Overlooked Regimes: the Dictatorship of General Miguel Primo de Rivera

The setting is Spain in 1923. The country is in disarray, politics heavily factionalized and the government is unable to effectively run the country. The Spanish army, one of the largest pressure groups in Spanish politics at this time, is becoming restless and threatening a military coup. In order to avoid mass anarchy the King of Spain [Alfonso XIII], who is ruling by name only, invites Primo de Rivera to turn his hand to running Spain. Thus begins the dictatorship of General Primo de Rivera.


Primo de Rivera’s dictatorship; the key features:

Spain was put under the control of martial law, meaning that ordinary laws and regulations were suspended in favour of more intensive and strict rulings.

Enforcement of heavy censorship, most newspaper weren’t allowed to print

Creation of a new national party- the Union Patriotica [UP]. Mottos of the party included “Spain above all” and “Spain, One, Great and Indivisible”

Various attempts at revitalizing Spain’s failing economy by building roads and increasing steel and iron production.

Primo de Rivera’s cult of personality. Like most great dictators Primo de Rivera also created a heightened image of himself. Throughout his regime he was portrayed as the protective father of Spain and upon the start of his regime he was seen as the saviour of Spain. He was seen as brave and extraordinarily capable. Portraits of Primo began to appear in many public spaces.


The enemies of the regime:

Politicians: Primo de Rivera had an intense hatred of the Spanish political system and specifically the politicians in it. 1923-1926 was not a good time to be Spanish politician. However the disliked between these two groups was mutual, many Spanish politicians thought Primo de Rivera had no respect for law and order in Spain.

Students: some of the most active opponents to the Primo de Rivera regime were Spanish university students. In his crusade against some of his most vocal opponents Primo de Rivera had many students imprisoned. He even put the entire University of Madrid under the supervision of Royal Commissioners.


Throughout the years of his dictatorship Prime de Rivera continually claimed that his regime was a temporary measure, but time and time again he failed to hand back control. However his regime was such a disaster that by 1929 even the army [who were his biggest supporters in 1923] failed to support the regime, and consequently he was forced to resign.



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