Spanish general election, 1931
All 470 seats of the Congress of Deputies
236 seats needed for a majority
Elections to Spain’s legislature, the Cortes Generales were held in 1931.
General Primo de Rivera, who had run a military dictatorship in Spain since 1923, resigned as head of government in January 1930. There was little support for a return to the pre-1923 system, and the monarchy had lost credibility by backing the military government. Dámaso Berenguer was ordered by the king to form a replacement government, but his dictablanda dictatorship failed to provide a viable alternative. In the municipal elections of 12 April 1931, little support was shown for pro-monarchy parties in the major cities. King Alfonso XIII abdicated and the Second Spanish Republic was formed.
The Second Republic was a source of hope to the poorest in Spanish society and a threat to the richest, but had broad support from all segments of society. Niceto Alcalá-Zamora was the first prime minister of the Republic. The wealthier landowners and the middle class accepted the Republic because of the lack of any suitable alternative.
An electoral law of May 1931 replaced the previous single-member constituencies with much larger multi-member ones. The Senate was abolished and thus the government became unicameral. There would be one seat for every 50,000 people, with a separate seat for any city with more than 100,000 inhabitants. Any electoral list gaining an outright majority of votes in a district would be guaranteed and simultaneously restricted to 80% of the seats. A list winning a plurality of votes but that failed to win a majority would receive two thirds of the seats. The remainder would be passed to the second list if they received 20% of the vote. Voters would be entitled to vote for as many or as few districts as they liked. The system favoured multi-party coalitions that could thus win a majority of votes.
Women were unable to vote in this election, but they could stand for and be elected to office. They achieved the vote in the Constitution of December 1931 and were able to vote for the first time in 1933, before women in France and other countries.
The Liberal Republican Right (DLR) was led by Alcalá Zamora and Miguel Maura. Uniquely, it identified as Catholic and did the most to appeal to monarchists and those on the right. However, despite putting up 116 candidates across Spain, it led a poor campaign which was poorly organised.
The Radical Republican Party occupied most of the middle ground and was far more successful at winning conservative, moderate support. It was led by Alejandro Lerroux. Such conservatism was at odds with most republicans, who believed greater reforms were necessary to bring about stability. This was the case with the Radical Socialist Party, led by Álvaro de Albornoz and Marcelino Domingo, which promulgated extremist views. "There is nothing to be conserved" Albornoz argued.
The Socialist Party stood to the left of the political spectrum, and was kept in line with the coalition by a majority of its leadership rather than unanimously. A legal revolution was necessary, argued a key Socialist figure, Largo Cabellero. However, extremists in and outside of the party loomed as potential competition, and the Socialist line was thus that the coalition was only a stepping-stone to a fully socialist state.
The official instructions were that civil authorities were not to interfere with the vote; however, in some areas ad hoc republican patrols were set up, undoubtedly deterring some conservatives from voting. Some members of councils stood; some provincial governors did the same, but not it their own area of governance. The Republican-Socialist coalition dominated the campaigning; the right, still reeling at the loss of the monarchy, remained disorganised. Only in one area did the right manage to collectivise sufficiently: the Basque Country. Many members of the right switched to republicans, despite having little in common with them – one group in Asturias went under the contradictory name the "Monarchist-Republican Party".
The Republic and Socialist coalition won a huge victory, helped by a public more liberally inclined than in 1933 or 1936. The lowest turnout, 56%, was in Ceuta; the highest, 88%, in Palencia. Broadly speaking, turnout was higher in the north than the south. Overall, turnout was around 70% which was considered high. The Socialists won around 2,000,000 votes; Republicans 1,700,000, Radical Socialists 1,350,000 and the Liberal Republican Right 950,000.[nb 1]
|Electoral alliance||% vote||Seats won|
|Combined Socialist–Republican Coalition+||34.28%||193|
|PSOE and the Leftist Coalition+||14.56%||80|
|Catalan Leftists[nb 2]||9.64%||42|
|Galician Republican Party (Partido Republicano Gallego) and allies+||3.73%||24|
|Spanish Radical Republican Socialist Party (Partido Republicano Radical Socialista Español)+||3.53%||13|
|Democratic Federal Republican Party (Partido Republicano Democrático Federal) and Federalist independents||1.06%||7|
|Socialist Revolution Party (Partido Social Revolucionario)||0.57%||1|
|Extreme Federal Left Party||0.30%||2|
|Radical Republican Party (Partido Republicano Radical) and allies+[nb 3]||10.59%||42|
|Liberal Republic Left (Derecha Liberal Republicana) and allies+||4.39%||8|
|Liberal Democratic Republican Party (Partido Republicano Liberal Demócrata) and Supporters of the Republic||1.05%||4|
|Other Republican Independents||0.74%||2|
|Republican Party of the Center (Partido Republicano de Centro)[nb 4]||0.56%||2|
|Republican Action (Acción Republicana)+||0.47%||–|
|Republican Catalan Party (Partido Catalanista Republicà)+||0.31%||1|
|Navarre Basques[nb 5]||3.59%||15|
|National Action (Acción Nacional)||2.34%||7|
|Regionalist League (Lliga Regionalista)+||1.97%||3|
|Independent Catholics of the Right||0.72%||–|
|Monarchist League (Unión Monárquica)||0.10%||1|
|Basque Nationalist Action (Acción Nacionalista Vasca)||0.08%||–|
|Coalitions marked + also formed part of the Combined Socialist–Republican Coalition in some seats.|
Party divisions at the start of the Cortes, after seats had been awarded between coalitions:
|Affiliation||Party||Name in Spanish or Catalan||Abbreviation||Seats|
|Marxist and Anarchist Left|
|Spanish Socialist Workers' Party||Partido Socialista Obrero Español||PSOE||115|
|Socialist Union of Catalonia||Unió Socialista de Catalunya||USC||4|
|Revolutionary Antifascist Left||Izquierda Revolucionaria Antifascista||IRA||2|
|Extreme Federal Left||Extrema Esquerra Federal||IEEF||2|
|Leftist Federal independents||–||–||2|
|Workers and Peasants' Bloc[nb 6]||Bloc Obrer i Camperol/Bloque Obrero y Campesino||IRA||–|
|Communist Party of Spain||Partido Comunista de España||PCE||–|
|Radical Socialist Republican Party||Partido Republicano Radical Socialista||PRSS||59|
|Republican Action[nb 7]||Acción Republicana||AR||26|
|Democratic Federal Republican Party||Partido Republicano Democrático Federal||PRD Fed.||16|
|The Association of Service to the Republic||La Agrupación al Servicio de la República||ASR||13|
|Radical Socialist Catalan Left[nb 8]||Esquerra Catalana Radical Socialista||ECRS||2|
|Republican Left of Catalonia||Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya||ERC||29|
|Federation of Galician Republicans[nb 9]||Federación Republicana Gallega||FRG||14|
|Nationalist Republican Party||Partido Nazonalista Repubricán||PNzR||1|
|Republicans of the Centre and of the Right|
|Radical Republican Party||Partido Republicano Radical||PRR||90|
|Liberal Republican Right||Derecha Liberal Republicana||DLR||25|
|Liberal Democrat Republican Party||Partido Republicano Liberal Demócrata||PRLD||4|
|Centre Republican Party||Partido Republicano de Centro||PRCe||2|
|Supporters of the Republic||Apoyo a la República||AAR||2|
|Provincial Republican Association||Agrupación Republicana Provincial||ARP||2|
|Independents of the Centre||–||–||4|
|Regionalists and Nationalists of the Centre and of the Right|
|Basque Nationalist Party[nb 10]||Partido Nacionalista Vasco||PNV||7|
|Galician Independents[nb 11]||–||–||5|
|Catalan League||Lliga Catalana||LR||2|
|Catalan Republican Party[nb 12]||Partit Catalanista Republicà||PCR||2|
|Agrarian Republican Autonomy Party||Partido Agrario Republicano Autonomista||PARA||1|
|Independents (pro-Statute of Estella)||–||–||3|
|Parties of the Right|
|National Action[nb 13]||Acción Nacional||AN||5|
|Monarchist parties of the Right|
|Traditionalist Communion[nb 14]||Comunión Tradicionalista (Carlista)||CT||4|
|Agrarian Catholics||Católico Agrarios||CA||3|
|Monarchist Union||Unión Monárquica||CT||1|
|Traditional Catholic Party[nb 15]||Partido Católico Tradicionalista||PCT||1|
|Liberal Monarchists||Monárquico Liberal||ML||1|
- Payne notes the difficulty in separating votes between parties because of the wide range of coalitions and other problems.
- Included the ERC, ECRS and the Radical Republican Party.
- Included the PRR, DLR, and RS.
- Only stood in the Balearic Islands.
- Included the Traditional (Carlist) Commune (Comunión Tradicionalista (Carlistas))
- Trotskyist Communists. Stood only in Madrid and Catalonia.
- Stood only in coalition with other parties.
- Linked to the PRRS
- Included ORGA and the Galician Republican Party.
- In coalition with the CT.
- Formed the Galicianist Party in December 1931.
- Formed in March 1931 from the Catalan Action (Acció Catalana) and Republican Catalan Action (Acció Republicana de Catalunya) parties.
- Became part of CEDA in 1932.
- In coalition with the PNV.
- In coalition with the CT and PNV.
- Preston (2006). p. 36.
- Preston (2006). p. 37.
- Thomas (1961). pp. 18–19.
- Beevor (2006). p. 20.
- Thomas (1961). p. 21.
- Preston (2006). pp. 38–39.
- Payne (1993). p. 47.
- Payne (1993). p. 48.
- Beevor, Antony: THE BATTLE FOR SPAIN. page 30. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson. 2006.
- Payne (1993). p. 49.
- Payne (1993). pp. 47–48.
- Payne (1993). p. 50.
- See both "Elecciones 28 junio 1931" (in Spanish). Retrieved 31 August 2011. and "Votos por coaliciones" (in Spanish). Retrieved 31 August 2011..
- Beevor, Antony (2006). The Battle for Spain: The Spanish Civil War 1936–1939. London: Weidenfield and Nicolson. ISBN 0-297-84832-1.
- Payne, Stanley G. (1993). Spain's first democracy: the Second Republic, 1931-1936. Univ of Wisconsin Press. ISBN 978-0-299-13674-1. Retrieved 23 August 2011.
- Preston, Paul (1994). The coming of the Spanish Civil War: reform, reaction, and revolution in the Second Republic. Psychology Press. ISBN 978-0-415-06354-8. Retrieved 9 August 2011.
- Thomas, Hugh (1961). The Spanish Civil War (1 ed.). London: Eyre and Spottiswoode.