It’s a legal-political document, a constitution concretely, the constitution of 1876. The audience was the public, because the constitution tries to legislate for all the country. It’s a primary and historical source. The authors were the Cortes, elected in January 1876 after the restoration of the Bourbon dynasty in 1875.It was written and approved in 1876.
This text is a selection of articles of the 1876 Constitution. The principal ideology was conservative liberalism, the predominant one of the deputies elected in January 1876. The draft of the Constitution was written by a commission formed by 39 deputies, presided by the liberal Manuel Alonso Martínez.
The type of State that this Constitution promoted was Constitutional Monarchy.The king is the head of the State and his powers are limited by the Constitution.
One of the most important ideas that we can find in the text are:
-With respect to the divisionof powers, we can find information in the last articles, in which it is said that sovereignty is shared between the Cortes and the King, as we can see in articles 18, 50 and 51.
The monarch held both the executive (exclusively: ARTICLE 50) and the legislative power (the legislative power was shared with the Cortes: ARTICLE 18), as we can see in some of the articles of the text, as articles 50 and 51. In addition, he was considered to be above the rest of the institutions, , he was the head of the army, had an arbitrary role in political life in order to guarantee the pacific alternation of political parties, got veto power, could appoint the ministers and call, suspend and dissolve the Cortes.
- The text included many individual rights that had been reflected in the 1869 Constitution, but they could be regulated by future laws, which meant their restriction. One of the rights that appearon the text is the freedom of speech, as we can see in Article 13, which speaks about the right of opinion and ideas of all the Spanish citizens, andthis article also says the ways in which the citizens can use this right. There are more rights recognized on this article, as right of association, reunion, petition, as we can see in article 13, but all these rights would be restricted by further laws.
This Constitution includes also some remains of the 1869 Constitution, such as the right of opinion and ideas, which were not included in other Constitutions.
- As for religion, as we can see in Article 11, which says that the official religion of the State is the Catholic one, allowing the cult to other religions, but public manifestation were forbidden.
-As we can see in the text in Article 19, the Cortes were formed by two chambers, as it is said in the text, Congress (formed by elected deputies) and Senate (only ½ of the deputies were elected).
Other ideas that we can find in the text are the ones from Article 75, which says that the Codes of the Monarchy would be the same for all the cases without any exception (this refers to the elimination of the Basque and Navarrese fueros after the end of the 3rdCarlist War) andArticle 76 says that the courts of justice can exclusively in charge of judicial power. Article 76 refers to the division of powers, one of them was the JUDICIAL POWER.
In this Constitution we can see some remains of the past and similarities with other past Constitutions, such as the one from 1845, for example, the religion, the Catholic one continues to be the most important one of the state and the only one to be allowed in public. This meant areturn to the past, because the 1869 Constitution had established freedom of cult. Another similarity with the 1845 Constitution is that power is shared between the King and the Cortes.
In 1873 after the fall of the Elizabethan Regime and the abdication of Amadeus I of Savoy the First Republic was proclaimed, which wanted to convene the Constituent Assembly to establish a new constitution, but it failed because in January 1874 Pavia and Serrano gave a coup d’état. With this fact and after in December 1874 of General Martinez Campos uprising (pronunciamiento) for the restoration of the traditional monarchy in favour of Alfonso XII in December 1874, the (began moderate) Restorationbegan, led by former moderates like Cánovas.
A royal order from 1875 established that the army’s role was defending national independence and keeping out from politics. In exchange for this, the army received a huge budget. AlphonseXII’s was publicized as the military king and he was called the Peacemaker. However, the subordination of the army to the civil power was not completely achieved. The military continued to participate in politics.
The army contributed to the end of the war conflicts: the 3rdCarlist War finished in 1876. The fueros of the Basque Provinces and Navarre were abolished, but they received a special economic treatment with the Basque Economic Agreement to collect the taxes directly.
The Great Cuban War, started in 1872, ended in 1878 with the signature of the Peace of Zanjón, with a wide amnesty for the fighters, the promise of the abolition of slavery and political and administrative reforms for the island that were not fulfilled.
Once the Constitution was passed, Cánovas’ effort oriented to build two parties that could alternate in power. His model was the British bipartisan system, with two main parties accepting the monarchy and the basic institutions of the State. The Conservative Party was formed around himself and it included former moderates of alfonsinos, former members of the Liberal Union and some former Carlists who had decided to abandon violence and accepted the system. Its main support came from the big landowners and the upper bourgeoisie. The Liberal Party formed around Sagasta, included former progressives from the two branches and as time went by it also integrated former members of the Liberal Union, some democrats and conservative republicans. Their main support came from the middle bourgeoisie, small merchants and landowners. Both parties accepted the monarchy, the 1876 Constitution, the defense of private property and a unitary and centralized State.
As the dynastic parties only represented the interests of a minority of the population, electoral manipulation was the only way to guarantee that they would be elected. The Constitution gave the monarch an arbitrary role in the alternation in power: when they party in the government went through a crisis, the other dynastic party went to the royal palace and asked the monarch for the decree of dissolution of the Cortes and formed a new government. The new government, without a supporting majority in the Parliament, “cooked” the results of the elections.
In this way, the dynastic parties alternated periodically and pacifically in power, depending on their internal stability or some unexpected events, like Alphonse XII and Cánovas’ deaths.
This Constitution was very important because it was in force until 1923 (the longest Constitution in force in Spain’s history).It had an extended validitybecause it was in force throughout the period of the Restoration, including a regency and two reigns.
This Constitution established the foundations of the Spanish political and social life at the beginning of moderate Restoration.This Constitution is characterized as monarchic, moderate and eclectic, it collects religious question, personal rights, bicameral system, separation of powers and the establishment of a single jurisdiction (in this way, the Basque fueros were eliminated).
Under this constitution the bipartisanship was established with a stable system accepted by the dynastic parties, capitalism and industrialization were consolidated, the Basque fueros were abolished and economic agreements were approved in the Basque Provinces and Navarre. It also gave stability to the country, although they didn’t stop having problems like the labour movement, the rise of nationalism, democratic forces and the colonial problem.