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Flag of the Second Spanish Republic

The Spanish Constitution of 1931 meant the beginning of the Second Spanish Republic, the second period of Spanish history to date in which the election of both the positions of Head of State and Head of government was democratic. It was effective from 1931 until 1939 (although the Constitution continued to be nominally in effect, since the spring of 1936, just prior to the Civil War, it had been largely abandoned, the extreme left having taken power, disenfrancising the center and conservatives[1]).

The Second Republic began on 14 April 1931 after the abdication of King Alfonso XIII, following local and municipal elections in which republican candidates won the majority of votes in urban areas. The abdication led to a provisional government under Niceto Alcalá Zamora, and a constituent Cortes to draw up a new constitution, adopted on 9 December 1931. The document provided for universal suffrage and proclaimed a purported complete separation of Church and State, but in actuality it provided for significant governmental interference in church matters, including the prohibition of teaching by religious orders and the banning of the Society of Jesus.[2] Some scholars have characterized the Constitution as hostile to religion and seen that hostility as a cause of the subsequent civil war. The Second Spanish Republic lasted from April 14, 1931 to July 18, 1936 (military uprising) or April 1, 1939 (republican defeat by Francoist forces).

Contents

The flag

The flag of the Second Spanish Republic (1931-1939) was a tricolour (red, yellow and purple) in horizontal stripes of the same dimension, unlike the traditional red-yellow-red Spanish flag, with a shield in the middle. The purple colour is inspired in the Comuneros revolt and is a means to represent Castile and Leon. A shield with squared-edges topped by a mural crown and quartered with the coats of arms of these four regions, clockwise: Castile (a castle), Leon (a lion), Navarre (golden chains in asterisk shape on a purple shield), Aragon (vertical yellow-red stripes). Left and right of the shield are the "Hercules columns" with the motto "Plus Ultra".

Influence of the 1931 Constitution

The Second Republic in 1931 brought enormous hopes for Spanish workers and peasants, and in social terms some advances were made, especially for women. In the 1931 Constitution, women won the right to vote, and also the right to be elected to any public office. In 1932 laws on civil marriage and divorce were introduced. For the period they were the most progressive in Europe for they recognised divorce by mutual consent, and the right of women to custody of children.

In 1935, prostitution, which had previously been recognised by law, was declared illegal. In the field of general working conditions, some improvements were achieved, for example, the right to freedom of association and the right to belong to a union. On 1 July 1931, the 8-hour working day was decreed. Night work was regulated, obliging bosses to allow 8 hours of rest, and the Sunday Rest Law was granted to all workers.

The revolution of 1931 that established the Second Republic brought to power an anticlerical government.[3] Although the constitution was largely sound, generally according thorough civil liberties and representation, the notable exclusion being the rights of Catholics, a flaw which prevented the forming of an expansive democratic majority. [4] The controversial articles 26 and 27 of the constitution, strictly controlled Church property and prohibited religious orders from engaging in education. [5] Not only advocates of establishement of religion but also advocates of church/state separation saw the constitution as hostile; one such advocate of separation, Jose Ortega y Gasset, stated "the article in which the Constitution legislates the actions of the Church seems highly improper to me." [6] Pope Pius XI condemned the Spanish Government's deprivation of the civil liberties of Catholics in the encyclical Dilectissima Nobis (On Oppression Of The Church Of Spain )."[7] Not only advocates of establishment of religion but also advocates of the separation of the church and state saw the constitution as hostile; one such advocate of separation, Jose Ortega y Gasset, stated "the article in which the Constitution legislates the actions of the Church seems highly improper to me."[8]


Since the far left considered reform of these aspects of the constitution as totally unacceptable, commentators have opined that "the Republic as a democratic constitutional regime was doomed from the outset". [4] Commentators have posited that such a "hostile" approach to the issues of church and state were a substantial cause of the breakdown of democracy and the onset of civil war.[9] One legal commentator has stated plainly "the gravest mistake of the Constitution of 1931-Spain's last democratic Constitution prior to 1978-was its hostile attitude towards the Catholic Church." [10]

The constitution also made the right to property subject to the public good, such that it could be nationalized as long as the owner was compensated. [11]

See also

Spanish First Republic

External links

References

  1. ^ Payne, Stanley G. A History of Spain and Portugal, Vol. 2, Ch. 26, p. 646-647 (Print Edition: University of Wisconsin Press, 1973) (LIBRARY OF IBERIAN RESOURCES ONLINE Accessed May 15, 2007)
  2. ^ Torres Gutiérrez, Alejandro ,RELIGIOUS MINORITIES IN SPAIN. A NEW MODEL OF RELATIONSHIPS? Center for Study on New Religions 2002
  3. ^ AnticlericalismBritannica Online Encyclopedia
  4. ^ a b Payne, Stanley G. A History of Spain and Portugal, Vol. 2, Ch. 25, p. 632 (Print Edition: University of Wisconsin Press, 1973) (LIBRARY OF IBERIAN RESOURCES ONLINE Accessed May 30, 2007)
  5. ^ Smith, Angel, Historical Dictionary of Spain, p. 195, Rowan & Littlefield 2008
  6. ^ Paz, Jose Antonio Souto Perspectives on religious freedom in Spain Brigham Young University Law Review Jan. 1, 2001
  7. ^ Dilectissima Nobis, 2
  8. ^ Paz, Jose Antonio Souto Perspectives on religious freedom in Spain Brigham Young University Law Review 1 January 2001
  9. ^ Stepan, Alfred, Arguing Comparative Politics, p. 221, Oxford University Press
  10. ^ Martinez-Torron, Javier Freedom of religion in the case law of the Spanish Constitutional court Brigham Young University Law Review 2001
  11. ^ Smith, Angel, Historical Dictionary of Spain, p. 195, Rowan & Littlefield 2008
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