SPAIN'S NEW PREMIER
CLASH OF PARTY IDEALS
THE LEADERS TALK
A Government of the Left, composed principally of advanced Republicans and Socialists, has been in power in Spain under the Premiership of Senor Azana since the General Elections of February 16. The Left gained a majority of about 30 seats over the Royalist, Catholic, and Conservative parties of the Right block and the Centre (writes Bertram Willmore from Spain to the "Daily Telegraph").' The Azana Government has already amnestied the 30,000 people who were imprisoned all over Spain for complicity in the October, 1934, revolution in Asturias and Catalonia. ■It has taken the first step towards giving back to Catalonia its precious autonomous Government, which had been suppressed after the 1934 revolution. It has decreed a number of other measures, and has made an energetic start on the task of finding- work for Spain's 700,000 unemployed. But every day it becomes more apparent that though the Left extremists feed and,grow strong on such political. fare, it does not satisfy their appetites. SPAIN "JUST REBORN." Senor Azana is- determined to govern legally and to maintain order. Many of the Communists and other extremists are more and more confidently claiming that they will have all they want—and they want a good deal—whether they get it legally or not. Don Luis Zulueta, 'a Left Republican and Foreign Minister in Senor Azana's last Cabinet—tall, spare, benevolent, and bespectacled—declares that the Spanish nation has "just been reborn."The country had wanted to make a complete sweep of its past ways of life ever since last century. That transformation is now being carried out. ■ "That is why you see such an unquiet spirit everywhere," he told me. "What must be done is to direct and canalise it and use it to the best purpose of progress and reform. ' "Fortunately, tolerance is a marked characteristic of our Constitution, and I believe Senor Azana is the very man to interpret it and carry it out intelligently and tolerantly." Senor Julian Bestero, leader of the moderate and intellectual Socialists, taller and leaner even than Senor Zulueta and equally benevolent looking, considers the election a triumph for "pure" Republicans and Socialists against the reactionaries. He expects that the Left's Radical election pact will be quickly carried out. A SOCIALIST COUP? "But if the whole programme is realised," he assured me, "I shall not be" satisfied. Many really Socialist measures are excluded from the pact. "There is, for instance, the economic problem of Asturias, once an exceptionally prosperous province, but now greatly depressed; the need to reorganise the railway systems and harmonise road and rail transport services; the need to increase the national electricity output and develop the industry, and the great problem of unemployment, particularly in the agricultural industry. A Government, even a bourgeoise one, must try to solve these problems. "I belieye the Azana Government could work on such lines for years with the help and support of the Socialists in Parliament and . their syndical organisations in the country. "Senor Gil Robles' C.E.D.A. party seem to have a tendency towards a dictatorship rather on the lines of that an Austria. The Catholics might become circumstantial Monarchists. ■ The Socialists are faced now with the pro-blem-of whether they should eventually try to seize power and establish a dictatorship of the proletariat, or ■whether they should continue to act constitutionally. We are to have a Socialist congress very shortly, and the point will certainly be decided then. I hope the party will not decide in favour of a dictatorship of the proletariat." THEIR. LENIN. Senor Largo Caballero, the extreme Socialist leader, dubbed "by many the Lenin of Spain, is small, and rather plump. His hair is very thin. He is fair-complexioned, and has light blue eyes.. His smile is charming, easy, and as innocent as that of a child. He thinks that the Government have begun "lazily." •' ' "Fundamentally, all the parties of the Right are Monarchists. They want capitalism and a king-like President of the Republic," he told me. "One of the great difficulties of the Republic is that the leadership of the country in the army and the Ministries is in the hands of Monarchists. We want to republicanise all these posts. The Government ought to do this." Senor Jose Diaz, leader of the Communist Party—a middle-aged barkeeper, in humble circumstances, said he was delighted with the election results. - "Now work will have to be found for the workers. The Government has begun well," he declared. "We shall be sympathetic towards it while it carries out the Left pact, the measures of which will be beneficial to the workers and the middle classes. "There is much unemployment. Capital must be used and not left lying idle." Senor Diaz ruefully denied stories that his party had received large sums of money from Russia to help the organisation. "I only wish," he added, with a smile, "that they would send me some. Trade is bad." NO MONARCHIST. Senor Gil Robles, leader of the C.E.D.A. Catholics—a large man, young, dark, energetic, and efficient —who will be" the leader of the strongest single party in the Cortes, denied any desire to .become a dictator or restore the monarchy. He emphasised that he was a convinced Republican. In Parliament he proposed to oppose the Government reasonably, but not systematically. He thought the position 'of Senor Azana, with the Socialists and Communists at his back always pushing him along, would be increasingly difficult. He did not believe the Government would last for the full four years' life of this Parliament. Senor Jose Calvo Sotelo, leader of the Monarchists—the dark and dis-tinguished-looking Finance Minister during the dictatorship of General Primo de Rivera and now the leader of the Monarchists —admitted to me that the elections had thrown all thoughts of a restoration of the Monarchy far back on the hprizon. ''For the time being, at least," he said, "the most urgent thing is to defend the Republic against Communism. ."The Rights, will, I think, support the Government because the Government will try to withstand the revolutionary pressure of the Socialists and the Communists. The Socialists in Spain are not like those in England or Belgium. Here 90 per cent, of them want revolutionary tactics—a dictatorship of the proletariat. FAITH IN THE ARMY. "I think we are bound to have a dictatorship in Spain some day, but, \\ dp not know whether it will be of the >
Left or of the Right. The C.E.D.A. will never be a party of dictatorship in Spain. I am not myself a supporter of dictatorship. "If there is a moment of great danger for the country from Communist agitation I believe the army will step in and save it if there are no politicians capable of doing so. The army will not let Spain fall into a Red revolution. "At the moment everyone of the Right is hoping that Senor Azana will check the Red advance. "I do not like dictatorships, but I believe democracy .in Spain will always lead, inevitably, to Communism. My ideal is for the country to have some sort of a corporative Parliament, in some ways like that of Italy, but even more like that of Portugal.
"Sixty per cent, of the nation is proletarian. We have a small middle class and a fairly strong and numerous upper class. Gradual evolution is what will bring us the greatest- happiness and prosperity. At present the country is split in two politically, and there are not many points of agreement between the two sections." Speaking in terms of Parliamentary representation, he thought the present situation much better than that of 1931. The minority is stronger, and though the Government is composed of much the same people it has more experience. "The fact that there is a General at the War Ministry seems to me an advantage," he said. "He will preserve the moral unity of the army better than a .politician could. "In the streets the situation is worse, because- the political temperature is higher than it was in 1931. Senor Azana will obviously try to keep public, order. At present things are not too difficult for him, but when his 'honeymoon' with the extremists is a little older the situation may become strained and dangerous. "Economic conditions are- infinitely worse than in 1931. The Right is immetisely strong, and it might have been governing now had it not been for bad tactics. It will govern again," he said firmly.
Permanent link to this item
UNEASY PATH, Evening Post, Volume CXXI, Issue 85, 9 April 1936
UNEASY PATH Evening Post, Volume CXXI, Issue 85, 9 April 1936
Using This Item
Fairfax Media is the copyright owner for the Evening Post. You can reproduce in-copyright material from this newspaper for non-commercial use under a Creative Commons New Zealand BY-NC-SA licence . This newspaper is not available for commercial use without the consent of Fairfax Media. For advice on reproduction of out-of-copyright material from this newspaper, please refer to the Copyright guide.