2009 | 57 | 2 | 223-242
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A DREAM OF FREEDOM. DEMOCRACY AND REPUBLICANISM IN SPAIN 1840 -1868 (Sen o svobode. Demokracie a republikanstvi ve Spanelsku, 1840 - 1868)

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This article is concerned with the political discourse of the Spanish republicans from around 1840, when republicanism appeared on the scene, until 1868, when the majority of liberal political forces combined to overthrow the monarchy of Isabella II. The republicans spread their discourse by means of the press and in the framework of the space for social life, including educational societies, clubs and secret associations. They turned to the ordinary people, who were denied political rights by the doctrinaire liberal regime, and presented to them the idea of a harmonious society composed of independent citizens. Exclusion from political life was understood as the main cause of social differences, and it was assumed that the right to vote would solve all types of inequality. The republicans succeeded in creating a movement of considerable breadth in geographical and social terms. It is possible to say that apart from its electoral results, republicanism was a key factor in politicizing the masses and bringing them into public life. Analysis of the discourse concentrates on key concepts such as democracy, citizenship, freedom and federalism, always bearing in mind, that the same terms may imply different conceptions of the principles, which symbolically structure society, in different historical periods. Extensional analysis of the discourse shows that the republicans had difficulty accepting pluralism and supporting among their popular base legal and institutional forms of participation in public life. The right to vote was seen more as a way of achieving social solidarity, than as an instrument of political change. The republicans also did not accept the legitimacy of the coexistence of different political projects, but considered that there was only one - that of the people. These concepts deeply influenced political events and practices in that period. The majority of Spanish liberals only slowly began to accept the rules of the game of the representative system and to install structures of consensus and integration of different political currents. This has basic importance for understanding the history of democracy in Spain.
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  • Florencia Peyrou, Departamento de Historia Contemporanea, Universidad de Valencia, Av. Blasco Ibanez 28, 46010, Valencia, Spain;
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