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Alejandro Lerroux and the Failure of Spanish Republican Democracy

A Political Biography (1864–1949)

Roberto Villa García is Senior Lecturer in Political History at Rey Juan Carlos University of Madrid (Spain). Author or coauthor of El Precio de la Exclusión. La Política en la Segunda República (Madrid, Encuentro, 2010), La República en las Urnas. El despertar de la democracia en España (Madrid, Marcial Pons, 2011), España en las Urnas. Una Historia Electoral 1810– 2015 (Madrid, La Catarata, 2016) and 1936. Fraude y Violencia en las elecciones del Frente Popular (Madrid, Espasa, 2017).

Alejandro Lerroux (1864–1949) was one of the most polemical figures of early twentieth century Spanish politics. As leader of the Radical Republican Party and six-time prime minister between 1933 and 1935, his admirers saw him as a patriot determined to create a Republic for all citizens, while his critics denounced him as an opportunistic demagogue willing to sacrifice the Republic to its enemies. Like his French republican contemporary Georges Clemenceau, Lerroux’s long political journey took him from the fiery radical leftism of his youth to centrist consensual politics. Thus while Lerroux was the most significant advocate of a revolutionary break with Spain’s monarchical and authoritarian past before 1931, after the proclamation of the Second Republic he wished to build an inclusive and tolerant democracy.

This book is the first scholarly biography in any language of this titan of modern Spanish politics. Nigel Townson’s The Crisis of Democracy in Spain (2000) is the only book in English to discuss Lerroux’s career in any detail, but his study is restricted to the Second Republic. Utilising neglected primary material, Villa García argues that Lerroux embodies the transition from the elitist liberal politics of the nineteenth century to the modern mass politics of the twentieth. Like the Second Republic itself, Lerroux’s political career ended in failure. The work is a timely reminder to students of modern Spain that the demise of Republican democracy was not inevitable. Nevertheless, after the abrupt end to Lerroux’s effort to sustain a broadly based moderate and democratic government, Spain would never again achieve stable and constitutional rule until 1977. The political defeat of Lerroux was a major turning point in the country’s history, a fateful step in the failure of democracy and the coming of civil war.

Hardback ISBN: 978-1-78976-048-4
Hardback Price: £65.00 / $74.95
Release Date: November 2020
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-78976-053-8
Paperback Price: £27.50 / $39.95
Release Date: November 2020
Page Extent / Format: 264 pp. 229 x 152 mm
Illustrated: Yes


Prologue by Stanley G. Payne

Introduction                 The Truth Betrayed: Alejandro Lerroux and his Critics
Chapter 1                      The Forging of a Rebel (1864-1899)
Chapter 2                      Revolutionary Organiser (1899-1909)
Chapter 3                      The Respectable Republican (1909-1923)
Chapter 4                      From Sceptical Conspirator to Minister of the Republic (1923-1931)
Chapter 5                      Leader of the Republican Opposition (1932-33)
Chapter 6                      Prime Minister (1933-1934)
Chapter 7                      A Conservative against Anarchy (1934-1935)
Chapter 8                      Much Ado About Nothing (1935-36)
Epilogue                       Exile and Return (1936-1949)
Primary Sources and Bibliography

Reviewed in Italian by Anontio Manuel Moral Roncal in Spagna Contemporanea, 2021, n. 59. 

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