Local Life and Municipal Services in Spain at the Beginning of the 20 th Century
The interpretation that still prevails of the political and economic history of Spain at the beginning of the century, emphasizes the basically rural and backward character of a society that grew and was modernized very slowly. Even as late as 1932-1936, during the Second Republic in Spain, political backwardness, industrial underdevelopment and engrained agrarian conflict are common factors stressed by many authors and, in contrast, there was a lack of a solid alternative politically and economically rooted in their as yet minority urban middle classes.3 And «perhaps the sole outstanding fact in 1898 was the extent and unanimity of the malaise in the middle class» [PAN-MONTOJO, 1998, p.262]. Recently these ideas are being revised in search of «more subtle interpretations of the political reality which is more prosaic, but not for that reason less complex». Political historians such as Forner and García argued that political fraud, corruption and backwardness cannot explain completely and convincingly early 20 th century Spain. On the contrary, they suggest that the implicit critical factor in the so-called «vieja política» (old politics) was a more general lack of civic maturity, that might have filled the established rules of the political game with democratic content [FORNER & GARCÍA, 1992, pp. 41 y ss.]; but in fact Spanish society only gradually began to fill this gap. They also add that, in such a process of growing maturity, cities played, as should be expected, a fundamental role.
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