How much of the Spanish republics in the Spanish Civil War were Communists?


Jan 2018
San Antonio
I'm not fond of any dictators, but Communists have a nastier history than run-of-the-mill right-wing dictators.
You may have created a false dilemma: that the choice was between different dictators rather than between a republic and a dictator.
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Ad Honorem
Feb 2010
Canary Islands-Spain
The simple answer is no, Communist had little influence on the Republican government before the Civil War

But the issue is much complex. Let me split this in four:

-1917 Revolutionaries:

-The Communist Party (PCE) was born in 1921, split from PSOE. The PCE agreed to enter into the Third International, so they were closely alineated with the USSR.

Their votes were:

1931 - 0.77% votes - 0 representatives
1933 - 1.8% votes - 1 representative of 473
1936 - 3.5% votes - 17 representatives of 473

The PCE had little impact on the Spanish politics through most of the Republican period, before the Civil War. However, by 1936 their importance was greater than their political representatives: they were extremly well organized, and they had an armed militia, the "Antifascist workers and peasants Militias" which played a crucial role during the army's coup d'etat of July 1936. Also due to their close connection to Moscow, many of its members had been trained in proper military achademies in the USSR. This was the backbone of the People's Republican Army, the new army of the Republic after 1936

During the war, their role skyrocketed much above their official institutional representation, because the Soviet Union linked their aid to promoting PCE. Since mid 1937, the military operations were controled by them. This close connection led also to the PCE carrying Stalinist purges in Spain, a continuation of those taking place back in the USSR. By the end of the war, when the rest of the political forces agreed to surrender, the PCE kept fighting and then passed to France

-Since 1930, small non-Stalinist parties have been active in Spain, by 1935 they were united in the POUM, basically a Trostkyst party (but some of their groups had broke apart from Trotsky!!). They were just 5,500 extremely active members. Their importance was above their institutional representation, particularly due to their important militia (by 1936, it can be considered that the party was a militia itself). The PCE tried their best to annihilate the POUM, and so did both politically and physically


They were communist as well, Libertarian Communist actually. They had thrived in Spain since the second half of the 19th century, in a kind of mystical, missionary or apocalyptic scenario where a new world of no state, no class, no church and no army would exist. By 1931, they were 2,000,000 members in the main Anarchist group, the CNT

However, the Anarchist weren't exactly Republicans. They hated all kind of institutions, and so they considered the Republic (which was Liberal at first) another form of opression, one more gentle than the previous regimes though. During the period 1931-1936, the Anarchist supported and opposed the government, depending of their interest. When the Civil War started, they sided with the Republic, but they were always unruly, tried to have their own laws, militias and state forms. The Republican forces used the force to put them into the Republican order, and so by the end of the war they were largely demovilized and dispaired. Their most active militias, however, kept fighting to the end, and many passed to France as the PCE

-Other Socialist parties:

They were Marxist parties, but of social-democratic form, mostly avoiding violent or revolutionary actions. PSOE was the most important, but not the only one. They were the hegemonic groups during the Republic.

In 1934, PSOE moved to revolutionary actions and tried a Revolution against the conservative movement then in charge of the government. This failed, and the Socialist leaders agreed that such attempts were against their interest. PSOE (current government party in 2019!!) had rejected the propositions of entering the Third International from Moscow, and so kept itself away from the USSR. In fact, not being aligned with Moscow cost PSOE their leadership during the war, when Largo Caballero resigned in May 1937. The presidency was for another PSOE man, Juan Negrín. However, Negrín was controled by the PCE and the USSR. This is the moment the Spanish Republic became a puppet of Moscow

-What was the Republic?

The Republic was the dream of the Spanish intellectuals since the 19th century. It would be a regime of liberties and light, in the line with the French Revolution values. The First Spanish Republic lasted just one year and ended in disaster. The Second Spanish Republic (1931-1939) was basically a Liberal regime based on its institutions, and supported by left and right wing liberals. The Republic was controled by liberal-socialist parties in 1931, by liberal-conservative parties in 1933, and again by liberal-socialist parties in 1936. The more time passed, the more extreme became political parties. By 1936, old Liberal parties were weak, while radicals from both wings grew stronger.

This led to the catastrophe of July 1936, when the a conspiracy of right wing officials performed a coup d'etat. Armed militias from parties and trade unions prevented the seizure of half of the country, while the other half was controled by the Army. At this moment, the political structure of the Republic crumbled, the goverment having no authority. The power was in the hand of the party's militias, which slowly rebuilt a Republican authority, ultimately based on Soviet military aid and political hegemony


Ad Honorem
Dec 2014
You may have created a false dilemma: that the choice was between different dictators rather than between a republic and a dictator.
You have created the false dilemma. It was to choice between the Red Dictatorship, the Bloody Revolution or the White Dictatorship. Fortunately.. in Spain, white Forces won the War. Thanks to Franco, García Valiño, Vigón etc etc

Second Republic NEVER was a democracy.. Self-proclaimed established from the first moment the Terror and the censorship. Republic self-proclaimed April 14th... only 4 weeks later, between 10th to 13th May... Reds burning churches, Libraries, convents... many books were burning between them... the Encyclopedia...considered a bourgeois work ...May 12th, 1931, the REDS burnt the second biggest Library in Spain: 80.000 books were burnt.. between them medieval books, incunabula and original books written by Cervantes, Lope de Vega, Quevedo, Calderón de la Barca, Feijóo etc etc

The list of the churches, libraries etc burnt by REDS in may 1931 (only 25 days after Self-proclaimed Republic)

The republican governor in Malaga send a cable to Azaña: Ha comenzado el incendio de iglesias. Mañana continuará (It´s just begun the fire on churches..Tomorrow it will continue). The new republican authorities made nothing to avoid the looting and arson.. in fact, some of them encouraged attacks on the church (Remember not even one month!!!).


Ad Honorem
Nov 2010
Groundhog day

Martin puts it sensibly again. Anyone who believes the cosy liberal elite theories about a lovely democratic republican government needs either to read more or seek help. But the deep roots go right back through the anti-clerical riots, the Carlist Wars and even the absolutist/liberal wars

Postimperial Spain (and even during) was a very, very troubled and divided society. In a way the Guerra Civil and dictatoship purged 300 years of grief, with a big load of grief.


Ad Honorem
Feb 2010
Canary Islands-Spain
The Republic was a democracy of Liberal nature, this is clear when we go a bit deep below propaganda.

The government, left or right wing, faced extreme left and right wing groups that tried to take the regime farther from its original purpose, thence the continuous conflict between the Republican institutions and the many groups that threatened it.

This is obvious for any one reading a bit about the issue.

The events of Málaga in 1931, for example, resulted in the declaration fo state of war and the intervention of army units. They were sent there by the left wing government.
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May 2017
Mr Martin,you forget the principal names of the winners of this war:Franco of course,but in the band of the four you have:Hitler,Mussolini,Salazar,who were not monuments of democracy and christianism.Why the negationists say everytime that the democracy is the devil…..


Ad Honoris
May 2014
Dear Futurist,

Everything depends on what do you understand for being a communist.... remember Lee Harvey Oswald... he was asked if he was communist and he said.. No, I am not a communist.. I am a Marxist - Leninist.

Truth, PCE as FALANGE were very minority political organizations before the War.

However we can´t forget PSOE was a Marxist Party... in three wings: Largo Caballero (Marxist Leninist), Indalecio Prieto (Marxist) and Julian Besteiro (the only moderated).

PSOE was a MARXIST PARTY till the year 1979 (XXVII Congress).

So... The main Marxist forces in Spain was PSOE not PCE.

Can you see this page from the EL SOCIALISTA (The Socialist.. PSOE´s official paper)

In this editorial from the year 1931, PSOE say they want the PROLETARIAT dictatorship... "Queremos lograr nuestras aspiraciones legalmente"...(we want to achieve our aspirations legally (we want to socialize the Private Ownership). Also, PSOE declare they want to destroy the "democracia burguesa y el liberalismo"
(bourgeois democracy and liberalism... because they are enemies of this Republic)...

Remember... the editorial is from 1931.. previous event to the Constitution. So... PCE was almost impossible to be popular when PSOE was the large MARXIST party in Spain. PSOE wanted to finish with all the political parties and to establish the Proletariat dictatorship and prohibit the private owneship.

PSOE Meeting in 1931:

Why'd the PSOE change their attitude in regards to this in 1979?

Breath takeningly small.

1936 2.5% of the vote.

Communist Party of Spain - Wikipedia
"Being a well-knit and highly disciplined organization, the PCE could in spite of its numerical weakness play an important part in the war. In the first five months of the war, PCE grew from 30,000 members to 100,000. It also founded a Spanish branch of the International Red Aid, which assisted the Republican cause considerably."
So they didn't get much popular support but nevertheless were able to punch significantly above their weight militarily.
May 2017
Garcia Valino presented himself as the spanish Napoleon,but everybody knows that he was defeated in Valencia by the general Menendez,and that in the position of captain of industry he was caught the hands in the bag in a big deal of corruption in his holding.
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Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
the discussion should be focused on the Stalinists party rather than the broad Marxist movement

the Stalinian PCE gained influence by being the conduit for Weapon supplies from the USSR
tanks , planes , guns ... nobody else helped , the democracies were useless while the Fascists were very involved

the Stalinian run Comintern parties and propaganda outlets were totally and effectively supporting the Republic

very soon the PCE used its influence to progressively control the Army an engaged in purges of all other Marxist and
Anarchist factions
a prime target was the Trotskist Marxists , they were targeted for extermination