Praetorian Politics in Liberal Spain

By Carolyn P. Boyd | Go to book overview

CHAPTER TEN
Junteros, Africanistas, and Responsibilities

The Restoration system had functioned so long as there was little need for strong government in Spain. Popular apathy, an elite consensus, and military quiescence had enabled the turno parties to define their differences in purely personalistic terms, frequently without regard for public opinion or the national interest. But economic expansion and social mobilization since 1914, together with the failure of the Spanish army in Morocco, had transformed the Spanish political environment. As the fall of the Maura government in March 1922 made clear, a growing number of Spaniards now found the traditional immobility of the dynastic parties intolerable. If those parties -- and the parliamentary monarchy -- were to survive, they must meet the challenge of the parliamentary Socialists, who viewed the Moroccan war as the occasion to build a new majority in favor of political and social reform. Until the experiment was cut short by the pronunciamiento of September 1923, first the Conservatives and then the Liberals would attempt to render the regime more responsive to public opinion.

Although Romanones had defected from the Maura coalition in hopes of returning to power at the head of a reunited Liberal party, his ambitions quickly proved to be unrealistic. Not only was Santiago Alba bent on excluding him from the Liberal coalition, but the king was also unwilling to transfer power to the Liberals, whose alliance with the Reformists he distrusted as a potential threat to the military campaign in Morocco and possibly, to the Crown itself. Moreover, with his wellpublicized defiance of the Maura government only two months behind him, Alfonso was unwilling to risk new elections to the Cortes. Accordingly, he appointed José Sánchez Guerra, the leader of the Conservative majority in the Cortes since January 1922, who formed a cabinet on March 8 that included Maurist and Lliga representatives.1

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