From Our Own Correspondent in Spain.
Now that the diplomatic noises of the last few weeks are dying down a little it might be as well to sum up the different points of view in Spain to-day. For this purpose I had two interviews in the last few days, one with a Republican and the other with a Monarchist ; both well known in Spanish politics, with a view to securing their ideas of the present situation and of the future.
It surprised me not a little to find that both of them were agreed on one thing—any idea of a transitional government was out of the question. The Republican was even more downright on this subject than the Monarchist, and some of his points are worth consideration.
He began by pointing out that the great fault of the republic was that it had no real Republicans to govern it, and that the Republican Party, confronted with the results of the municipal elections of 1931 was as much taken by surprise as the Labour Party
in England last year Consequently they found themselves obliged to produce a makeshift policy which led to oppression, especially of the working classes, and a consequent swing to Communism.
He gave this as the reason why so many sincere Republicans ended up by rejecting the policy of their own party; quoting as an example Unamuno, who was so bitter in his condemnation of the Republic in 1936 A COMMUNIST TERROR Any attempt to impose a provisional government now would mean one thing and one thing only—the Communists would once again launch their campaign of terror. murder and the burning and looting of churches; and that immediately. Thus the provisional government would be faced with two alternatives, either to use force to suppress such riots. or to allow thent a free hand. In either ease the result would have to be intervention from outside the country; and that is first of all abhorrent to the Spanish pride, and secondly. it wotsld almost certainly mean that Russia would get here first!
He confirmed my opinion that the Spaniards' fear of Russia is supreme at the moment, and the most unifying de
ment in her internal politics. While there is any chance of Communism getting a hold here, Franco is safe, and can count on about 80 per cent. of the people to support him.
His solution for the future was as follows—to allow the present Government to continue in office until such times as a change could be effected gradually, perhaps by the introduction of the Gil Robles element into politi cal life again. This would prepare the way for some attempt at elections although he was rather sceptical as to their value. His main point on this issue was that Britain should learn that her type of democracy is not neces
sarily for export. The Spanish temperament is incapable of such a system of government, and here in Spain, as history has shown, it always leads to chaos.
THE MONARCHIST'S VIEWS The monarchist, while In agreement about the impossibility of a provisional government, was all for the return of the King, naturally ; but at the same time even he was unable to sec exactly how such a thing could take place at once, because at once there would be a division between the Carlists and the ordinary monarchists; apart from the fact that the King would wish to form an interim government, with the same danger to the country as that mentioned by the republican.
However, on general principles of politics he had some interesting points to make. Ile remarked that Spain's greatest political error since the days of the loss of her empire was a pseudoisolationism which had led her away from other nations.
She should reverse that process and seek for trade and political union with either Britain or America, on the lines of the present agreement between England and Portugal. and gave it as his opinion that this had been Franco's idea from the first. Naturally, such a thing would be impossible at present, but the country would have to work round to that end ; and even if it were a slow process, still it should be done.
As will be seen from these two interviews, neither the Right nor the Left have any clear ideas as to what can be done at present to modify the regime, although all admit that a modification must come sooner or later.
The Spaniard is not renowned for his extreme patience, and therefore it is possible that some hasty steps will be taken ; and therein lies the danger. As usual, the Communists are the only ones who really know what they want and are organising to that end both inside and outside Spain. I have spoken with sonic of them, and their main idea is revenge.
FRANCO—YES ! COMMUNISM NO1 As one confessed : " We shall wipe out in blood every year we have been kept out of power." Here in Spain that danger is perceived very clearly; and the position of the majority of the people is well summed up in the latest slogan : " Franco—Test Communism —No!"
This is especially true of those areas in Spain which experienced the worst of the Red Terror during the civil war, for example, in Valencia and Malaga. It is hard to express in mere words the horror the ordinary Spaniards feel at the thought that Britain and America are thinking seriously of allowing such things to happen once more in this country; and I can assure you that the ordinary man in the street has no intention of allowing himself and his family to be murdered in their beds. If there is to be fighting and bloodshed it will be on both sides this time.
Add to this the fact that the Government of Franco, whatever its faults, is essentially Catholic in its composition and in its ideas; and if those ideas are often badly administered in practise that is due more often than not to the very psychological constitution of the Spaniard. We must learn that these people are not built on the same lines as ourselves, and that our systems and ideas cannot be applied to them without modification. To impose on the. Spaniard our idea of democracy would be to impose chaos instead of order. The party system never has worked well in the whole history of Spanish politics; and to expect a radical change all of a sudden is to expect a miracle.