free ebooks

A History of Spain by Charles E. Chapman

And the strikers were helpless


[Sidenote:

Conservative rule in a pseudo-Liberal state.]

On the surface the old politico-social ideas of Liberalism seemed for a while to have died, and the country came to be ruled by parties which supported the conservative constitution of 1876, although there was a widespread opposition in opinions it not in power. At the present time there is a Liberal and a Conservative party, but the difference between the two is recognized, even by many Spaniards, as being very slight. In 1911 there was a strike on the government-owned railways, whereupon the authorities suspended the constitutional guarantees, on the ground that the nation was in danger. One result was that bodies of men could not congregate,--and the strikers were helpless. In 1912 a general railway strike was threatened. The premier, Canalejas, called out the military reserves, and put them on the trains not only as guards but also as train operatives,--for, since all Spaniards who have served their term in the active army are in the reserves, the strikers were employed as military trainmen to put down their own strike,--a thing which they could not refuse to do, as they were under martial law. An early _Cortes_ was promised, at which the questions of increase in wages and decrease in the hours of labor would be taken up. The _Cortes_ was called,--and the matter of the strike was dropped. The interesting thing is that all of this took place while a Liberal government was in power! It is also said

that the Liberals and Conservatives agreed, a few years ago, to alternate in office, thus showing their contempt for the spirit of representative institutions, but the Liberals did not retire from their control of the government in 1913, wherefore not a little ill-concealed resentment was displayed by the organs of the Conservative party. In fact, parties are divided on lines of the allegiance of individuals to the chieftain (_cacique_) of their group. National policies and projects of reform on the part of those in power get little beyond the stage of rhetoric, while government is too largely given over to the interplay of personal ambitions. To many the young king, Alfonso XIII, has seemed the most liberal-minded of the higher officers of the Spanish state, and in both word and deed he has appeared, until recently at least, to merit the characterization. Attaining to his majority at the age of sixteen, in 1902, he married the granddaughter of the English Queen Victoria in 1906,--an augury in itself of liberal views. A savage attempt was made, without success, to murder the young couple on their wedding day; on that occasion and two others when later assassinations were tried, Alfonso displayed such courage and coolness as to win for himself an immense popularity; "the valiant king" (_El rey valiente_) he is often called.

[Sidenote: Underlying resentment against the government and growth of elements in opposition.]

The political views of the Spanish people have been undergoing a change in recent years. Whereas the mass of the people were totally unready for the democratic constitution of 1812, or even for that of 1837, they are today becoming more and more radical in feeling. Everywhere there is discontent with the present management of state affairs, and it is customary to charge even the untoward incidents of daily life to the fault of "the bad government" (_el mal gobierno_), --for example, when a train is late, or over-crowded, both of which eventualities are of frequent occurrence. Many factors have combined to bring about this state of mind: much is traceable to social causes, to which allusion will be made presently;


eBook Search
Social Sharing
Share Button
About us

freefictionbooks.org is a collection of free ebooks that can be read online. Ebooks are split into pages for easier reading and better bookmarking.

We have more than 35,000 free books in our collection and are adding new books daily.

We invite you to link to us, so as many people as possible can enjoy this wonderful free website.

© 2010-2013 freefictionbooks.org - All Rights Reserved.

Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Contact Us