Labor Movement and Basque Nationalism in Spain

Indalecio Prieto and the Spanish Socialist Party

In the first decade of the 20th century, Indalecio Prieto became a leading figure of socialism in the Basque provinces. He became an important Spanish politician during the “Pereagua´s downfall (1910-1914)”. In that period, Perezagua was charged with the failure of the 1910 strike (he accepted the 9.5 hour workday, whereas worked demanded 8); also, Pablo Iglesisa gave him two commands  Perezagua did not agree with: to prioritize the political fight over the labour fight and to collaborate with the republicans. From 1910 to 1914, a harsh inner struggle took place inside the Socialist Party. In 1914 Perezagua was kicked out of PSOE and UGT, and Indalecio Prieto became the socialist leader, a typical socialist with liberal desires. As it was suggested by Pablo Iglesias Posse, he prioritized the political fight over the labour fight and started collaborating with the republicans against the Canovite system. The goal was to obtain more deputies in order to pass laws that would benefit workers. On the other hand, Indalecio Prieto was greatly opposed to separatism as well as towards the plans of the Basque nationalists in the draft of the Estella Statute, fearing the prospect of the territory becoming a “reactionary Gibraltar and a clerical stronghold”. However, he bet on the compatibility between “Fuerismo and Constitutionalism”.Apart from that, he decided not to vote in the elections of 1931, in which women asked the right for active suffrage. In spite of this, women got the right to passive suffrage, so they were able to stand as candidates. We must mention that several detractors of the female vote claimed that women were not yet qualified to vote due to their poor training. Their vote, as they commented, would be conditioned by the Church.

Labor Movement

Capitalism brought along the class-society. A new social class the proletariat appeared. Working conditions worsened and workers were unprotected: liberal governments set up market economies: there were no state regulations on labour. Workers began to organize collectively. They founded mutualist associations in order to help each other and fight for their rights. They organised labour unions and political parties. In the 2ND half of the 19th century, scientific socialism proposed a new interpretation of history based on class struggle. Marx and Engels published the Communist Manifest in 1848, and founded the Communist Party and the International Workingmen’s Association (IWA) in 1864. The IWA was split between 2 different views: Bakunin defended anarchism and Marx who defended a proletarian state. Bakunin was expelled from the IWA, and socialism became the leading ideology of European workers’ organizations.

Labor Movement in Spain

The birth of organised Labour Movement 1820-1200): The 1st unions were founded in Catalonia in the 1840s. They were assistance associations to help members in case of illness, necessity or strike. Internationalism spread thanks to the anarchist Gluseppe Fanelli. In 1870, was founded the FRE, branch of the IWA, in Spain anarchist ideology prevailed. Some followers of socialism, led by Pablo Iglesias, founded the Socialist Party of Spain (PSOE) in 1879. Main features Anarchism was the prevailing ideology during the Restoration period. Division between socialism and anarchism weakened the Movement, were enemies. Landless labourers’ organizations played an important role. 1 Anarchists: individual freedom, including violent actions.They rejected the idea of any political organization, including their own party. In 1911 anarcho syndicalism spread, and the CNT became the biggest workers’ organization in Spain./ 2 Socialism: well-organized, disciplined and hierarchical organization. They believed in a proletarian state after the revolution. Had little followers until the 1930s.

Basque Nationalism

The late 19th  century saw the rise of regionalism and nationalism in Spain, especially in Catalonia and the Basque Country. Several reasons: 1 Spanish nationalism was weak./ 2 The Spanish liberal state was centralist. Spanish national Identity was built upon the Castilian cultural axis, and on the Castilian language. The peripheral Catalonia and the Basque Country became Spain’s most industrialized areas. 
Two factors explain the rise of Basque nationalism: centralization and industrialization. On the one hand, the abolition of the Fueros (1876) provoked two types of reactions: the new industrial bourgeoisie accepted the loss, aligned themselves with the turno liberal parties, and profited from the taxation autonomy granted in 1878. Others defended the Fueros had to be restored. These, known as Euskalerriacos, had as leader the shipbuilder Ramón de la Sota, who was part of the wealthy new bourgeoisie. They did not favoured independence, but autonomy. On the other, from the 1870s on when Biscay underwent a rapid industrializ. This resulted in new social tensions. Immigrant workers flooded into Biscay. This produced a virulent reaction in traditional Basque circles. They reacted against the sudden changes that industrialization had brought and viewed them as a threat to Basque identity, language and culture. Their most important leader was Sabino Arana.

The Birth of Basque Nationalism

Sabino Arana:  founder of Basque nationalism. In 1893, speech in Larrazabal, in which he summarized his ideological principles: Traditionalism against the modern world’s evils/. Recuperation of Fueros meant full sovereignty, therefore, independence./The only defence against modernization was to cut down all links to Spain./Ultra-Catholicism/
Idealization of the Basque agricultural society, envisioned as a life model.//// Social foundations: Arana’s first followers were Bilbao’s traditional small bourgeoisie and land notables and the Basque oligarchy did not support this new ideology until later.
Evolution of Basque nationalism (1894-1923)
In 1894, brothers Sabino and Luis founded the first Batzoki, meeting space of Basque nationalists. In 1895, Sabino Arana founded the Basque Nationalist party (PNV). At first it was a party linked only to Biscay. They realized they would not be successful without the support of the high bourgeoisie, Arana moderated his ideas to attract wealthy pro autonomists or euskalerriacos. In 1898 he was elected deputy in Madrid. As a result, Euskalerria Elkartea integrated within PNV.
The party, however, was divided into independentistas (led by the Arana brothers) and posibilistas (led by Ramón de la Sota). Sabino Arana died in 1903 and Ramón de la Sota became the party’s leader. The posibilita view was finally imposed.
In 1921, the posibilitas kicked out the orthodox Luis Arana and Eli Gallastegui, who founded the independentist party EAJ. With Primo de Rivera’s dictatorship both political parties will unite under the brand of EAJ/PNV. which would have a great relevance during the Second Republic.