Reign of Alfonso XII: Canovist system and the constitution of 1876.

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Reign of Alfonso XII: THE SYSTEM Canova and the 1876 Constitution.


After the coup of Pavia and the dissolution of the Republican Parliament in January 1874 established a military regime under the presidency of General Serrano, without a specific program. During the Democratic Presidential term reorganization had left the conservatives around the figure of Alfonso, the son of the dethroned Isabel II. The leader of this group, Antonio Canovas del Castillo, a consensus was reached between conservatives and progressives to restore the Bourbon monarchy peacefully. First he persuaded Elizabeth II to abdicate in favor of his son Alfonso (1870) and then worried about the training that would be the future king, joining various British military schools.

On January 1, 1874, the future Alfonso XII Sandhurst signed the Manifesto (written by Canova) in which he promised an open monarchy, constitutional and democratic. However, on 29 December of that year, General Martinez Campos and Jovellar pronounced in Sagunto (behind the ruling were Cuban interests, both military and economists who had been harmed during the six years from the granting of autonomy the island and spreading anti-slavery ideas), derailing plans to return the crown Cánovas the Bourbons peacefully.

3. SYSTEM Canova.

Accomplished facts, Cánivas form an interim government and communicated to his proclamation as King Alfonso of Spain. Starts and called Restoration period (1875-1931) marked by the return of doctrinaire liberalism with conservative landowning bourgeoisie in power, political stability and the disappearance of the serious problems (an end to the Carlist War in 1876 ​​Somorrostro for peace, and in 1878 the Cuban War for Peace Zanjón) and all under the umbrella of a Constitution as of 1876 and a political system, such as Canova, which sanctioned the principle of peaceful party shift in government.

This was, according Canovas, the monarchy recover lost prestige, making it play a greater role in public life around the army barracks (it was important to the military education of Alfonso XII to end the interference of the military in political life), the political consensus of liberal and moderate parties traditional (bipartisanship) and acceptance by them of the peaceful turnismo, inspired by the British model.


Confirmed by Alfonso XII as prime minister, Canovas started to draft a new constitution that would end the radicalism of this administration. It was prepared by an assembly of notables, led by Alonso Martinez, and discussed by a committee of 19 members, controlled by the Conservative Party of Canovas. Elected by universal suffrage, a new Constituent Cortes in January 1876, with conservative majority (330 deputies out of a total of 391). The text was approved without major changes. It was based on the principle that the Crown Canovist and courts predated the Constitution, the king being the linchpin of the system. Their characteristics were as follows:

• Courts consist of two chambers of similar skills. A Senate consists of three types of senators in their own right (largest in Spain and officials of the Church and the Army), by royal appointment (half lifetime, the other half for five years) and by choice (180 Senators, 3 by province), and a Congress of Deputies, elected by popular vote (1 deputy for every 50,000 inhabitants). The electoral model was subsequently approved the censitario (Act of 1878 (until 1890, liberals Sagasta not introduce universal suffrage.

• The Crown retains the punishment and the enactment of laws and the supreme command of the armed forces. You can veto laws by a legislature and dissolve the House, but must call elections within 3 months. Appoints the executive, accountable to the Cortes, but the king is not responsible, in practice the government does not emerge from the parliamentary majority, but the real intention, which will convene elections to get a majority of your choice.

• It follows that the type of sovereignty is shared between the king and parliament.

• The judiciary is independent

• Include a broad statement of individual rights, but its development is delayed further organic laws, which tended to its restriction, but also gave the possibility of including others that made, in legal terms at the end of the century were similar to the rest of Europe.

• Municipalities and provincial councils were under government control.

• Recognize the denominational Catholic country, the maintenance of worship and the clergy, but there is a freedom of religion if we restrict the private sphere.

4. Alternation in power until 1885.

In the following years he set the two main parties: the conservative Cánovas, which included a moderate part of the Carlist military Liberal Union and a large segment of Catholicism, the liberal, founded by Matthew Praxedes Sagasta in 1880 joined members of the Liberal Union, progressives, Democrats and some Republicans Castelar.

From 1875 to 1880 ruled the Conservatives, having as priorities the ending of the Third Carlist War, after the battle of Montejurra Primo de Rivera and the occupation of Estella, the capital of Carlism. Somorrostro Peace, signed in March 1876, entails the abolition of the remnants of Basque privileges: exemption of weapons and the contribution to the cost of the state, through a "financial arrangement". As for the war in Cuba (1868-1878) ended when the island could send 70,000 troops under General Martínez Campos, whose conciliatory attitude was reflected in the signing of the Peace Zanjón why the island was granted the same political, organizational and administrative and Puerto Rico had, such as autonomy for their municipalities, political rights and representation in Parliament, and the abolition of slavery and the revision of tariffs. But soon these conditions apply, as the Cuban problem remained dormant.

Also enacted repressive laws and control of freedoms (press, assembly, association), limitation of rights (based on census suffrage, electoral law, not academic freedom) and centralizing law (abolition of privileges Basque municipal law).

From 1881 to 1884 ruled that the Liberals started their reform programs such as universal male suffrage for elections in 1882.


They are part of the political system created by Cánovas: parties turn to bipartisanship and subject to the will of the king. This needed to control the electoral process to maintain a constant financial oligarchy, industrial or agricultural power at all levels (local, provincial or state) and could impose their interests.

Two mechanisms were used: chieftaincy and electoral manipulation. The chiefs were local party leaders who handled the administrative apparatus of state to their advantage and its clientele, so that dominated a particular electoral area. The relationship between the chief and his supporters was of a clientele, through an exchange of goods and services, which included personal favors. The clients were indifferent to political ideology. They claimed the vote of the chief in exchange for favors or recommendations: to rid a child of military service, avoid payment of contributions or employment in a public body.

The manipulation of elections by the cacique system was conducted in an atmosphere of general demobilization of the electorate, largely rural and illiterate who mistrusted democracy and relied more on local leaders who hoped to gain favor as a compensation for their vote. In this way the electoral mechanism configured not the courts, but it was the government who shape the electorate. The king appointed the Prime Minister, proposing that ministers who, in turn, received the decree dissolving parliament. Since the government manipulated the elections are the majorities required by methods such as box, which depended on the Interior. Minister of the day put the deputies or persons keyseats natural constituency in which he was elected. 25% were natural candidates, as submitted in his home province, chosen by local party organization.

Cánovas Thus avoiding any people's participation in the political and social progress paralyzed.

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