The Restoration Period in Spain: From Bipartisanship to Crisis (1874-1931)

The Restoration Period in Spain (1874-1931)

First Stage of the Restoration (1874-1902)

The initial phase of the Restoration period was characterized by a bipartisan system, with power alternating between the Conservatives (led by Cánovas del Castillo) and the Liberals (led by Sagasta) through electoral manipulation. The Constitution of 1876, drafted by Cánovas, established this framework. Outside of this system were the Republicans (divided into various factions) and the Carlists.

Key events during this period include:

  • The Third Carlist War (1876)
  • The end of Basque privileges and the Peace of Zanjón (1878)
  • The rise of Catalan nationalism with the Renaixença (1830s)
  • The abolition of slavery in colonial wars in 1888
  • The Cuban War of Independence and the Spanish-American War (1898), leading to the loss of Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines

These events culminated in an ideological and military crisis, giving rise to the Generation of ’98 and the Regenerationism movement led by Joaquín Costa.

Crisis of the Restoration System (1902-1931)

The second stage of the Restoration began with the ascension of Alfonso XIII to the throne in 1902. While the turno system persisted, a leadership crisis emerged within both the Conservative and Liberal parties. Key figures like Maura (Conservative) and Canalejas (Liberal) attempted reforms, but faced opposition from various groups, including Carlists, nationalists, republicans, socialists, and anarchists.

Significant developments during this period include:

  • The Moroccan War and the Algeciras Conference (1906)
  • The Tragic Week of Barcelona (1909)
  • The Disaster of Annual (1921) in Morocco
  • Spain’s neutrality in World War I (1914-1918)
  • Growing labor unrest and the rise of anarchism and socialism
  • The Bolshevik Triennium in Andalusia (1918-1921)
  • The dictatorship of Primo de Rivera (1923-1930)

Primo de Rivera’s dictatorship, established through a coup d’état, aimed to address the perceived failures of the Restoration system. He suspended the constitution, banned political parties and unions, and implemented various reforms. However, opposition from Republicans, intellectuals, and Catalan nationalists grew, leading to his resignation in 1930.

The crisis of the Restoration system ultimately culminated in the proclamation of the Second Spanish Republic in 1931, marking the end of an era.