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Confrontational Politics in Spain Expository Essay

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Updated: Dec 3rd, 2019


Confrontational politics can be viewed as that form of politics where two usually opposing sides are engaged in perpetual attacks on each other in their effort to reduce the support of the other group. It characterizes many politics across the world. This is because it is one of the main strategies to win more supporters.

In most cases, this kind of politics tends to create a violent atmosphere. This form of politics is opposed to the consensus politics which is characterized by agreement among the political parties.

Over the past, politics in Spain has been characterized by confrontational politics. This was characterized by high level of criticism and questioning any deviation in governance in the prevailing government.

In every country, it’s recommendable for the opposition to make constructive criticisms of the government activities while the ruling party should on the other hand show respect to the criticisms and views from the opposition side as people are becoming more informed (Pandy 2009: par 13).

In other words, the opposition side should engage in criticisms which can help in improving the prevailing conditions to a better level. The suggestions from the opposition side should also not be discarded by the ruling parties. This promotes democracy in the country. Spain has been experiencing conflicts for a very long time.


As already noted, confrontational politics in Spain can be attributed to a number of factors. These range from the prevailing ideologies as well as existing political systems. Some ideologies incite people to oppose the prevailing government while others promote submissiveness among the people.

There are also political systems which govern through dictatorship. This kind of political system intimidates any critics and therefore reduces any chance of having confrontation among the leaders. These are some of the factors which determined the presence of this kind of politics in Spain during the period.

In the period between 1898 and 1939, the Spanish history was characterized by a high level of events and movements. In 1898, the country faced the war known as American Spanish War.

This war marked a very important occasion in the Spanish politics since it marked the end of the last Spanish colonies which included Puerto, Philippines, Cuba and Rico (Salvado1999: 165). Later, the country dipped into social and cultural crisis.

To start with, Europeans doubts about the democratic liberalism after the World War I triggered confrontational politics in Spain (Solsten and Meditz 1988: par 11). In addition, the political system was in serious crisis. This atmosphere facilitated confrontational politics in the country

It is also possible that this form of politics in Spain during this period can be attributed to shifting from dictatorship to republic. As already noted dictatorship regime does not entertain any critic and is therefore less likely to have any confrontation.

In dictatorship, the leaders use excessive power in leading the people with the help of various sanctions to those who seemed to oppose already existing arrangements. After shifting from the dictatorship to republic, people had power to question the prevailing government with a high level of freedom.

For instance, people strongly rejected the government in the old system because they were not prepared to face a corrupt system characterized by excessive authority. This is unlike in the republic regime where every leader has the freedom to give their own views on critical matters concerning the government (Pandy 2009: par 7).

Confrontational politics in Spain during this period can also be attributed to the rise of revolutionary leaders. For instance, there was the rise of controversial Alejandro Lerroux during the period (Salvado1999: 145). During this period, Lerroux organized Republican movement.

The main purpose of this movement was to make demands and criticize the prevailing arrangements. He succeeded in organizing people and he developed effective electoral machinery. As Salvado (1999), noted, “His party, the Republican Radical, was to dispute the hegemony of Catalan politics with the Nationalist groups, especially the Lliga, for the next twenty years” (48).

However, this leader was faced with several scandals. This raised concern among the people who discovered the fact of the matter. This situation provided a favorable environment for confrontation. Lerroux had already dominated the municipal government by then.

Despite of this fact, he was still funded from Madrid by the liberal administrations (Sanchez 2000: par 2). Lerroux succeeded in mobilizing the lower class in the most unique way. He was involved in campaigns fighting for the rights of the workers. Through such activities, Lerroux developed a confrontational politics where he stressed the authority to consider improving the welfare for the workers.

He criticized a situation where the government allowed workers to be exploited at the expense of profit generation. In fact, he was nicknamed as the emperor of the region because of actively engaging in these activities. In his effort to fight for the rights of employees, Lerroux organized several rallies and made arrangements for the places where the workers would gather and access cultural and recreational services.

During the period in question, most of the leaders involved themselves in corrupt deeds. Corruption led to the suffering of the common people in the country. The political leaders took this opportunity to criticize the leaders in the leading group in their effort to seek support from the people. Leaders took the advantage of the corrupt leaders to build their reputation at the eye of the public.

In Spain, there were various ideologies that were opposing to each other. For instance, the ideologies of the socialists were different and unique. For example, socialist system was mostly dominant in Asturias, Castilla, Basque country and Anarcho-Syndicalist (Vallès 1989: 5). Again, the working class had its own unique ideologies. According to Encarnación (2008), Anarchist ideology was common in the first two federations of the Spanish Workers which existed before the period (175).

The development of Marxism ideologies could also have led to confrontational politics. Marx ideologies give an analysis of the modes of production in an economy. Marx addresses two modes of production, which are capitalism and socialism.

Capitalism is more exploitive unlike in the case of socialism where the means of production is collectively owned. In capitalism, the means of production are individually owned. Under socialism, people shared the product of their labor together and therefore, there was no room for exploitation.

However, people had varying views on the matter. These differences led to criticism and hence confrontational politics during this period. For instance, capitalism system leads to unequal distribution of resources. Consequently, this leads to significant differences among the people. These differences lead to conflicts in the society and therefore encourage confrontational politics.

The production system in Spain encouraged confrontational politics. During this period, the peasants and workers were often complaining on the prevailing system. This presented a ground on which the prevailing government was criticized.

The workers complained of their unfair compensation and blamed the government for their fate. The peasants complained of unfair return for their produce. The combination of these problems promoted confrontational politics.

During this period, Spain was faced by tough economic situations. This is one possible source of confrontational politics. The leaders started laying blames on the prevailing government for engaging the country in war, which led to economic stability.

As a result of economic instability during this period, people suffered from various kinds of problems. This formed a major ground for criticism for the prevailing regime.

Spain had experienced a time of authoritarian rule in its leadership. This system was characterized by submission to the authority. In this system, the political authority was at the hands of few people or a small elite group.

This system does not encourage challengers to question the existing arrangements and leadership (Dysophia 2011: par 5). Therefore, the leaders were free to meet their goals without worry since every decision they made was welcomed submissively without any resistance even if it was unacceptable.

However, this system was replaced with Second Spanish Republic. The new system led to a number of changes. This system encouraged democracy and therefore there were more criticism in an effort to achieve accountability among the leaders.

Unlike in the authoritarian system, this system allowed criticism from others and therefore it promoted democracy. This is unlike in the previous authoritarian system where power was concentrated in a small group. Another factor which led to the confrontational politics in Spain during this period is the politics of Catholicism.

In most cases, whenever there is an election, the opposition usually tends to question the results even when the election had been done with close observation by the domestic as well as the international observers (Ellis 2006: 150). The opposition side tends to raise various allegations against the elections. Confrontational politics in Spain can also be explained from this perspective.

In Spain, there were a lot of differences rising from the issue of Basque. From the Basques’ perspective, the resistance was aimed at retaining the cultural identity as well as preservation of the language (Totoricagüena 2005: 75).In connection to this, many Basques insisted for the government to allow the use of in public. This raised several issues with majority thinking that this issue was political and partisan one (Totoricagüena 2005: 95).

Some proposed that the Spanish government should release the Basque Provinces so that they can form their own state. However, some were totally opposing the idea. It was argued that Basques were not fully represented and therefore enough reason for an action.

In order to solve the issue at hand, majority proposed that confrontational politics would be more effective. In other words, the issue of Basque played a role in promoting confrontational politics in Spain.

Confrontational politics is characterized by several factors. For instance, the opposition side may tend to boycott the parliament. In some cases, such activities targets to intimidate the government from making certain decisions. This also ensured that the ruling government engages in acceptable practices for the good of its people.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Confrontational Politics

Confrontational politics in Spain has both negative and positive impacts to the country. When leaders are engaged in open criticism, they will tend to be clean to avoid being exposed in order to protect their support from the people. In authoritarian regime, the leadership is not questioned and therefore leaders are free to do whatever they like.

For instance, during General Franco’s regime, Spain faced authoritarian rule. During this regime, Franco had the power to dismiss ministers and other leaders who held important positions in the country and therefore could make any decision good or bad without questioning.

Ministers could not oppose his views as this could lead to their dismissal. As a result, there was no democracy in this system. In other words, confrontational politics facilitates democracy in the country. Confrontational politics also reduces corruption in an economy. In a system where leaders can be questioned freely, it will be difficult for them to use public funds inappropriately. This contributes in improving the living standards of people generally (Colomer 2008: 25).

Despite of these advantages of the confrontational politics, the system suffers some shortcomings. For instance, this form of politics sometimes leads to delay in decision making processes. For instance, leaders may spend a lot of time arguing about one issue. This form of politics may also lead to wastage of time.

Leaders may tend to lay accusation towards their rival group without strong basis with an aim of winning supporters. This leads to wastage of time which could have been used in other constructive activities.


In conclusion, this discussion has clearly revealed the possible factors that could have led to confrontational politics in Spain. This discussion has revealed that the possible factors which mainly contributed to this situation in Spain were political, economic and also the ideological aspects.

In the contemporary world, the awareness of the citizens has however increased. The citizens can now judge perfectly what is good or bad. However, the role of the opposition parties to criticize the ruling government is of great importance in the contemporary world since it tends to promote accountability among the leaders.

Reference List

Colomer, J. 2008. Comparative European Politics. New York, Taylor & Francis.

Dysophia. 2011. Confrontational Politics – Clawing Back Power. Web.

Ellis, A. 2006. Politics. Middlesex, Echo Library.

Encarnación, O. 2008. Spanish Politics: Democracy after Dictatorship. U.K.: Polity.

Panday, P. 2009. . Web.

Salvado, F. 1999. Twentieth-century Spain: politics and society in Spain, 1898-1998. New York, Palgrave.

Solsten, E. and Meditz, S. 1988. . Washington: GPO for the Library of Congress. Web.

Sanchez, A. 2000. Religion and Politics in Spain: The Spanish Church in Transition. Web.

Totoricagüena, G. 2005. Basque diaspora: migration and transnational identity. U.S.A., University of Nevada.

Vallès, J. 1989. . Web.

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