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  • Print publication year: 2020
  • Online publication date: April 2020

6 - The Persistence of the Landed Elites and the Nature of Farm Lobbies

from Part III - Explaining the Weakness of the Family Farm


Unlike most Western European countries, Spain’s landed elites and Church hierarchy remained politically and economically strong before the Great Depression. Spanish farm lobbies therefore continued to reflect the interests of large landowners and cereal farmers, whose demand for higher tariffs led to an expansion in wheat cultivation, despite the country’s weak competitive advantage. By contrast, family farmers, despite representing around a third of the electorate, were politically under-represented, which would have important consequences for the democratic experiment during the Second Republic. Neither the landed elites nor the Church hierarchy were required to participate in mass political parties before 1931, which limited their interest in organizing village-level cooperatives into federations, and at the same time helped them to preserve their traditional powers. Catalonia was the exception, as regional political demands required the landed elites to participate in mass politics, and explains the success of local farm cooperatives and rural associations.

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