The Origins of the Socialist Schism: 1917–31

  • Paul Preston


In the continuing debate on the origins of the Spanish Civil War it has become commonplace for major responsibility to be attributed to the Socialist Party, the PSOE (Partido Socialista Obrero Español). Whether or not the PSOE was responsible for the breakdown of the Second Republic, it certainly had a crucial role to play therein. As the biggest party of the Left, the PSOE provided three ministers in the reforming governments of 1931–3 and the backbone of their parliamentary support. During the period of Centre-Right dominance from 1933 to 1935, the Socialists were the only major opposition force, both in parliament and in the street, and even took part in a major insurrection in 1934. From the so-called Popular Front elections of February 1936 until the outbreak of war in July of that year, the Socialists, yet again the biggest party, were the arbiters of Republican politics. Referring to the 1934 insurrection, one scholar has gone so far as to state that, ‘given that the future of the Republic depended on the Socialist movement and the Catholic party, it is important to recognise that it was the former and not the latter which abandoned democratic methods and appealed to violence’.1


Executive Committee Basque Country Socialist Party Strike Action Material Interest 
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© Paul Preston 1978

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  • Paul Preston

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