The Bourbon Restoration in 1874 was propped up by the charade of turnismo, by which alternating left- and right-leaning governments were achieved by ‘massaging’ the ballot. After a military coup in 1923 the Second Spanish Republic was established; it was genuinely democratic, but veered between increasingly polarized socialist and right-wing coalitions. The army responded by purging its staff of republicans, and launching another (failed) coup in 1932. In 1934, an up and coming General Francisco Franco earned the sobriquet ‘Butcher of the Asturias’ for the brutal suppression of a miners’ strike. When the Popular Front alliance of Socialists, Communists and radical Republicans comfortably won the 1936 election, a cabal of army officers and fascist-inspired Falangists had had enough: their coup began in Spanish Morocco, and succeeded in much of northern Spain. However, most of the main cities, central Spain and the Mediterranean littoral remained loyal to the Republic. The battle-lines were drawn.
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