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Cantonalism, mainly prevalent in late 19th century and early 20th century Spain, is a political option which aims to divide the state into highly autonomous cantons.

It is in favor of federalism with a radical character (including redistribution of wealth, improvement of the working classes etc.), its goal is to establish a confederation of towns or cities (cantons) as a federation of independent units. It resembles in some ways to the Greek polis. Cantonalism was predominantly a phenomenon of the petty bourgeoisie, but also had a great influence on the nascent labor movement, and constituted a precedent for anarchism in Spain.


Federal Shield of Valencia Canton, 1873

In Spain there have been two eras when cantonalism has come to the forefront.

First period[edit]

The first of these events took place during the First Spanish Republic, on July 12 of 1873 in Cartagena, when the insurgency took place with the name Cantonal Revolution. In the following days it spread through many regions including, Valencia, Andalusia (especially Granada[1][2]), Cartagena (which endured for several months the attack of Nicolás Salmerón) and in the provinces of Salamanca and Ávila, all of them in places that came to articulate cantonalism. It can also be noted, the attempt to establish cantons took place in Extremadura, Coria, Hervás and Plasencia. Pi y Margall, seeing that cantons declared independent by the tardiness of the taxation of improvements, resigned from his post to be succeeded by Salmerón.

Second period[edit]

The second period when this phenomenon took place, despite not being in an ideological manner as above, corresponds to the end of the Second Spanish Republic, which was developed during the Spanish Civil War and the so-called Spanish Revolution, when for five months committees were established. Dozens of municipal and district councils of autonomous power, independent from the state, with their own notes and coins, were established. In some cases, independent municipalities or provinces communicated this decision to the League of Nations. Asturias and Leon declared sovereignty in late August 1937 with the formation of the Sovereign Council of Asturias and Leon (es).[clarification needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ El Imparcial. Madrid. 26 July 1873, p. 3
  2. ^ El Imparcial. Madrid. 22 de diciembre de 1873, p. 2

External links[edit]