The Crisis of Democracy in Spain

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The Crisis of Democracy in Spain is the first study in English to scrutinize the central role of republicanism in the origins of the Spanish Civil War of 1936–39. Previously historians have focused on the Left and the Right of the political spectrum at the expense of the Centre. Yet the Centre, as represented by the republican movement, dominated the governments of the Second Republic of 1931–36 until it collapsed into war. The Crisis of Democracy in Spain thereby confronts the greatest paradox of the Second Republic: why did the most popular and historic party of the republican movement play a key role in the Republic’s destruction?


Nigel Townson is editor of a general history of Spanish republicanism; and author of a three-volume work of the Spanish exiled writer Arturo Barea, a counterfactual history of modern Spain; and, most recently, Spain Transformed: The Late Franco Dictatorship, 1959–1975 (Palgrave, 2007). He is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Political Thought and Social and Political Movements at the Complutense University of Madrid.


“First-rate…essential reading for anyone interested in 20th century Spain and should long be a standard in the historiography of the Second Republic.”  —Journal of Modern History

“The best recent political history of the tumultuous Spanish Second Republic… it should become the standard political narrative of the Republic for historians and students alike.”  —American Historical Review

“The first detailed and carefully documented account of Leroux and the Radicals. The interpretation is striking and challenging. An important work.”  —Choice

 “An exhaustive study of the political significance of the Radical Party during the 1930s that enhances our understanding of the republican regime … one of the best books on the life of the Second Republic.”  —Revista de libros