The Creation of the Popular Front in Spain

  • Paul Preston

Abstract

The adoption of the Popular Front strategy at the Seventh Congress of the Comintern in July and August 1935 ensured that popular frontism would be thereafter inevitably and inextricably associated with the international communist movement. Of the two countries where the strategy had greatest success, the more dramatic and long-lived experiment was indisputably that of Spain. In consequence, the war against the Spanish Popular Front, launched in 1936 by a right wing infuriated that it could not defend its material interests by legal electoral means, was widely assumed at the time and 7ince to be a war against communism. It is true that the abandonment of the Spanish Republic by the Western democracies threw it into the arms of the Soviet Union and thus gave substance to the association of the republican cause with communism. However, at the time of the formation of what came to be known only belatedly as the Popular Front, the Communist Party played merely a peripheral role. It served the purposes of anti-republicans, and of the communists themselves, to argue otherwise. None the less, the truth is that the victorious left-wing electoral coalition of February 1936 was a revival of an earlier Republican—Socialist alliance and its formation was well under way when popular frontism was invented. It was the work, not of the communists, but of the moderate socialist Indalecio Prieto and, above all, of the republican ex-Prime Minister Manuel Azaña, both of whom wished to keep communist participation to the barest minimum simply because it could bring few votes to the coalition and would frighten many potential supporters.1

Keywords

Economic Crisis Europe Stein Defend Stake 

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Notes

  1. 1.
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Copyright information

© Helen Graham and Paul Preston 1987

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  • Paul Preston

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