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The Emergence of Mass Politics in Spain

Populist Demagoguery and Republican Culture, 1890–1910

In the Series
Studies in Spanish History

Author Text to Follow

This book scrutinizes the unfolding of mass politics in Spain in the shape of the republican movement and in particular the figure of Alejandro Lerroux, who led the radical left in Barcelona in the first decade of the twentieth century. By drawing on semiotic, linguistic and psychological approaches, the author analyses populism, anticlericalism, and the role of charismatic leadership in order to account for the transformation of Spanish political life. Most crucially, populism is reinterpreted not as a movement of protest but as a strategic means of opening up the oligarchical political system to greater participation and accountability.

Hardback ISBN: 978-1-902210-96-4
Hardback Price: £22.50 / $59.50
Release Date: January 2003
Page Extent / Format: 196 pp. / 229 x 152 mm
Illustrated: Yes



Chapter One
An Ill-Spent Youth
Chapter Two Honour by Pen and by Sword
Chapter Three The Sorcerer’s Apprentice
Chapter Four The Castle of the Damned
Chapter Five The Republican Reaction to the ‘Disaster’
Chapter Six A Plain Blunt Man
Chapter Seven Deputy and Conspirator
Chapter Eight Lerroux and Catalonia
Chapter Nine The Tragic Week
Chapter Ten Populism and Mass Politics in Spain


José Alvarez-Junco undertakes an analysis, both powerful and challenging, of the figure of Alejandro Lerroux and the republican movement he created in Barcelona during the first decade of the twentieth century. This is important for our overall understanding of early twentieth-century Spain, because from his base in Barcelona, Lerroux was to play a significant role in weakening the Restoration regime by robbing it of legitimacy and by mobilizing against it… Alvarez-Junco offers us, above all, a sophisticated deconstruction of Lerroux’s discourse and the oratorical strategies he employed in order to gain a mass base among the lower orders in Barcelona…
... This work will produce debate and controversy, and that is its great strength. It will force historians to think more carefully instead of using ascriptions such as left or right in an oversimplistic manner, to look beyond labels for the real content of a political language… Furthermore, the work provides a notable contribution to the study of populist currents in the early twentieth-century industrial world and the relation between these and the rise of both democratic and fascist movements. Finally it should stimulate further research into several other major questions that it highlights: the continuing attraction of the culture and language of the aristocratic old order, the usage of moral categories derived from Christianity, the weakness of liberal-democratic parliamentary culture, and the nature and importance of Spanish nationalist discourse. Given the skill Alvarez-Junco brings to bear in dissecting his subject matter, such debate should generate more light than heat.
Journal of Modern History

José Alvarez-Junco presents a fascinating description of the complex changes in the Spanish political system at the birth of the twentieth century. He deftly peels back the political and cultural underpinnings of the system in order to provide the reader with a full understanding of the situation in the run-up to the Spanish Civil War some thirty years later. Innovative and effective.
Political Science Quarterly

From reviews of the Spanish edition
I applaud the book’s multiple and complex historical strategies.
Carlos Serrano, Université de Paris, Sorbonne

A witty and learned construction of fin-de-siècle Spain.
Professor Paul Preston, London School of Economics

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