Ramon Alberch talks about Alejandro Lerroux, and his Radical Republican Party.
The Radical Republican Party, that’s the other side. Completely different. Their leader, a very odd man from, if I’m emembering correctly, Andalusia, Alejandro Lerroux. The “Partit Republicà Radical” is responsible for an expression that exists to this day in Catalonia, A somewhat insulting denomination, referring to someone as a Lerrouxist. Why? The ‘Partit Republicà Radical’ was Spanish nationalist, anti-dynastic, with a touch of violence and anti-clericalism. All mixed mixed in with the demagoguery of a silver-tongued politician. Not so different from some politicians today. People lacking substance, but possessing great oratorial skills. He has memorable quotes, and was called the emperor of the Paral·lel, because Paral·lel Avenue, back then, was the home to cabarets, bars… A desolate place where the underworld converged. At the time, it was his sphere of influence. Among his well-known quotes, which he said during a meeting, “Go into the convents, lift the veils of the novices, and make them mothers.” That was incendiary to the utmost. But he has tremendous power. Why so much power? Because the working class is becoming non-Catalan, not in a pejorative sense, but through precedent. It’s a working class that comes from Andalucia, Murcia, for the Universal Exposition of 1888. They have come to the city for work. In 1908, the Radical Republican Party is founded. Seven years after the Lliga, the Regionalist League. Two years after the famous Solidaritat Catalan [Catalan Solidarity], a coalition of Catalan parties opposed to the Madrid government. Lerroux, at that moment, has a very loyal following. He speaks to them in Spanish because it’s the language of the immigrants. With that, he creates much division between those who are and aren’t Catalan. This is where the expression Lerrouxism originates. When someone creates a movement in Catalunya, like the Andalusian Socialist Party in the 1980s, they’re called Lerrouxist if they divide people based on place of origin. These are Catalans. These aren’t. He leverages that to great effect, and identifies a proletariat that sees Catalan and Catalanism as bourgeois, separate from them. To not be Catalan or a Catalanist is to be a worker. This simplification helps build support, but he meets opposition in the CNT. The CNT presents a real challenge, but regardless, in Barcelona city hall, from 1914 to 1915, and 1917 and 1920, they exert great influence, which is ultimately forfeited because of underhanded business dealings, unclear economic initiatives, and cronyism. But even so, up until the Republic, 1933 to 1935, the Radical Republican Party manages to rule for a time. With lots of party splits…But with the rise of the Republic, the arrival of the war, it becomes nearly extinct owing to the formation of different factions backed by strong leadership and diffuse ideologies backed by demagoguery. But it’s a party that, during the first-third of the 20th century, especially in Catalunya, has great strength, and presents clear opposition to the Lliga. So it must be understood that these are the two big parties of that time.