Circa 1930, an anti-monarchial movement developed in Spain. This pro-republic group consisted of liberals and socialists who were tired of the monarchy. In 1931, Spain's leader, Alfonso, called for elections throughout the country. There was unprecedented support for the republicans, therefore, Alfonso fled. Consequently, the republicans, also known as the loyalists, took control.
They developed a democratic constitution and elected a president. However, although there was widespread support for the new government, Spain still had many who were pro-monarchy; furthermore, under the republicans, Spain lacked unification, and consequently, groups of right wing supporters grew. Eventually, there was so much political turmoil and opposition, that Spaniards stationed in Morocco declared civil war on the Republic. This nationalist force was headed by a prominent military leader, General Francisco Franco.
It was through the civil war, which was caused by the numerous errors made by the republicans, that Francisco Franco and the nationalists achieved control of Spain. After holding parliamentary elections, the republicans elected the republic's first president, Nice to Zamora, and divided itself into twenty parties ranging from extreme left to extreme right wing. These groups had completely different ideologies, and in addition, the new government lacked experience in ruling a country; therefore, each of the twenty parties wanted the republic modified to suit their beliefs. Amidst this conflict, the republic developed a constitution, which some right wing supporters criticized for being very biased, favoring the Leftists. However, these cynics represented a minority, therefore, they were outvoted and the constitution was passed in December 1931. There were many other downfalls of the republic that resulted in the Spanish Civil War.
One downfall was that the parties within the republic were constant divided, and leaders were often adversaries. For example, the left was divided into two groups, moderate lefts, led by Indalecio Prieto, and the much larger, more militant leftist group led by, Largo Caballero. Another problem with republic was their organization, or their lack of. They had an awkward system of choosing the president's cabinet ministers.
The president appointed his own, however, it had to have the approval of the Cortes, or the assembly where all the separate factions of the republic met. The real problem here related back to the opposing ideologies; a cabinet that satisfied both sides was impossible. The constitution also lacked a senate, a fundamental part of democracy, which was ultimately the republic's goal. The predominately Left government then looked to reform Spanish society from the ways of its previous monarch. They struck first with the Red Biennium, which reformed Catholicism in Spain, the military, and gave autonomy to Catolina. The government first went after the Roman Catholic Church by shutting down Christian schools, forbidding religion to be taught in class, and disallowing religious funerals.
This caused an uproar throughout Spain. Orthodox Christians and those who seldom practiced it were furious. The government then moved on to the army, looking to reduce the number of officers and modernize it. The Spanish army, as was the case with most armies, was right wing and conservative. Therefore, when the Leftist government looked to make changes, any kind at all was seen as bad. The government's solution to reduce the officers was to offer them the opportunity to retire on full salary.
Ironically, those who accepted spent their extra time and money plotting with the Nationalists. Following this, the government decided to grant Catolina's wishes to form self-government. This caused other regions to demand this freedom, which would thereby de-unify Spain even more. These actions of the Red Biennium greatly angered the conservatives who supported the church, and who were supported by the army. Therefore, when the government called for an election in 1933, the conservatives formed the CEDA (Spanish Confederation of Autonomous Rightist Parties).
The CEDA was elected into office and they took power that summer. Most of the time CEDA was in power, they spent it undoing all the changes made by the republic. There then came a point where they", declared themselves against the existing institutions of the country". In response to the internal havoc of the CEDA, the Leftists revolted, and what ensued was a period of political turmoil. The gap between both sides widened. The president at the time, Alcala, tried to unite Spain, which was in shambles.
He formed the Popular Front made of Leftists. At this point, there were constant violent attacks by both sides, and political assassinations became routine. Reacting to this instability, Spanish army units in Morocco declared a war against the Spanish republic. They were able to take one third of Spain unchallenged; however, The Populist Front quickly took up arms. The nationalists immediately chose Franco as their leader, because of his military wit and his long military history and experience. Franco then received support from Spain's fascist party, the Spanish Phalanx.
The fighting ensued for three years; therefore, the rest of the world noticed the situation. Franco then began receiving aid from Hitler and Mussolini, while the Loyalists were supported by the Communist Soviet Union. Considering their allies and their land positioning, the nationalists had the upper hand. As the nationalists gradually took more control of Spain, the foreign loyalist supporters began pulling their troops out. Once the aid had completely left, Franco led a huge attack, which took the capital. Consequently, the rest of the loyalists surrendered, and Franco and the nationalists achieved power in Spain.
In 1931, Spain's government was overthrown, and a republic was formed. The new government consisted of socialists and liberals who were tired of the monarchy. The republicans had no previous experience in governing a country; therefore, they made many mistakes, which led Spain into years of political strife, and eventually, a civil war. The civil was the stepping-stone which elevated Franco and his supporters into power.