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Spain

 
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Spain

THE CONSTITUTIONAL MONARCHY

[JPEG]

Early-20th-century stereoscope card showing Madrid's Puerta del Sol
Courtesy Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress

A brigadier's pronunciamiento that called Isabella's son, the able British-educated Alfonso XII (r. 1875-85), to the throne was sufficient to restore the Bourbon monarchy. Alfonso identified himself as "Spaniard, Catholic, and Liberal," and his succession was greeted with a degree of relief, even by supporters of the republic. He cultivated good relations with the army (Alfonso was a cadet at Sandhurst, the British military academy, when summoned to Spain), which had removed itself from politics because it was content with the stable, popular civilian government. Alfonso insisted that the official status of the church be confirmed constitutionally, thus assuring the restored monarchy of conservative support.

British practices served as the model for the new constitution's political provisions. The new government used electoral manipulation to construct and to maintain a two-party system in parliament, but the result was more a parody than an imitation. Conservatives and Liberals, who differed in very little except name, exchanged control of the government at regular intervals after general elections. Once again, caciques delivered the vote to one party or the other as directed--in return for the assurance of patronage from whichever was scheduled to win, thus controlling the elections at the constituency level. The tendency toward party fracturing and personalism remained a threat to the system, but the restoration monarchy's artificial two-party system gave Spain a generation of relative quiet.

Alfonso XIII (r. 1886-1931) was the posthumous son of Alfonso XII. The mother of Alfonso XIII, another Maria Cristina, acted as regent until her son came of age officially in 1902. Alfonso XIII abdicated in 1931.

Data as of December 1988

Spain - TABLE OF CONTENTS

  • Introduction
  • History & Historical Setting

  • Go Up - Top of Page

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