The vote of women in Spain and the debate in the Cortes of 1930

The vote of women in Spain and the debate in the Cortes of 1930

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September 30, 1930 occurred in the Spanish Courts a session to discuss the approval of the women's right to vote.

Among the deputies of the parties present was Clara Campoamor, deputy of Radical Party for Madrid, in favor of the granting of female suffrage because women had participated in politics and should think that they belonged to the Republic, and not be rejected by it.

According to her, women did not endanger the existence of the Republic precisely because they had risen up against the dictatorship of the previous period.

Campoamor expresses his outrage at the amendment presented by opponents of the granting of the female vote and explains that you cannot legislate without taking into account the participation and perspective of half of the voters, which are women. At the same time, he opposes the arguments of Victoria Kent arguing that women fought in various uprisings in greater numbers than men.

A Campoamor phrase to synthesize these ideas:

How can it be said that women have not fought and that they need long years of the Republic to demonstrate their ability?

In the session the following day, October 1, the debate continued.

Contrary to Clara Campoamor's perspective, so much Victoria Kent as Jose Alvarez Buylla, the latter from the Radical Party, voted "no" to granting the female vote in order to protect the republic, defending its proper functioning. It is also noteworthy Margaret Nelken who also rejected the approval of women's suffrage.

Kent proposed to postpone or condition women's voting rights because he preferred to let a few years of "coexistence" with the new political system go by.

I think its postponement would be more beneficial after a few years of being with the Republic and appreciating its benefits. Let women see that this political system has brought to Spain what the monarchy has not brought, those schools, laboratories, popular universities, Culture Centers where women can deposit their children to make them truly citizens.

According to Victoria Kent, by approving the right to vote for women there was a risk that they would vote for the right endangering the Republic.

Campoamor defended his perspective with questions:

Who protested and got up in Zaragoza when the war in Cuba more than women? […] Women! Have not women fought for the Republic? […] Don't they pay taxes to support the State in the same way as men? […] Precisely because the Republic is so important to me, I understand that it would be a very serious mistake to remove women from the right to vote.

For his part, the deputy of Regionalist League, Manuel Carrasco Formiguera, voted in favor of granting the female vote, wielding to defend Campoamor:

What the Republic cannot do is admit the principle of equal rights for both sexes and then exclude half of the Spanish citizens from the right to vote.

Despite the impediments posed by some groups such as the Radical Party, Republican Action and the Socialist Radical Party, the vote resulted in 161 votes in favor and 121 against, with which the law granting female suffrage was approved.

This debate in the Cortes shows a contradiction in the Republic, that proclaimed the principle of equal rights of both sexes, while questioning and impeding the right to vote of women.

It is also striking that Campoamor, a feminist deputy from the center was the defender of women's suffrage, while the two left-wing deputies, that is Victoria Kent and Margarita Nelken, will be reluctant.

In this episode of Spanish democracy, it can be seen that, despite the proclamation of the Republic on April 14, 1931, the approval of fundamental rights in the Spanish society of the moment was complicated as is the vote of women, due to disagreement between political representatives.

In other words, the simple approval of the Republic was but a single step that Spain had to take on a very long road still to go.

There are several factors that made this political juncture possible. One of them was the repression of the dictatorship of General Miguel Primo de Rivera (1923-1930). To this must be added the role played by great figures of the moment such as José Ortega y Gasset who supported political change. There was thus a feeling of rejection towards the Monarchy.

On April 12, 1931, municipal elections were held in which the socialist and republican parties defeated the monarchists. Two days later, the Republic was proclaimed.

Previously, only men who were 23 years old or older could vote. While women and priests could run for election, they could not legally vote until the approval of the Republican Constitution of 1931, and they exercised this right for the first time in the 1933 elections.

Article 36 of the 1931 constitution recognizes electoral rights for women: “Citizens of either sex, over twenty-three years of age, will have the same electoral rights as determined by law.”.

This law of laws is very important for Spain because it supposes its modernization in the recognition of rights and freedoms, essential for democracy.

Universal male suffrage in Spain was approved in 1890, but women could not participate in public life or fight for their social and professional situation until the second decade of the 20th century.

At this time, movements in favor of the emancipation of women emerged, relying on feminist theories that demanded legislative reforms regarding marriage, divorce, custody of children, equal opportunities and employment.

Despite the great progress that has been made today, some of these rights are not yet implemented.

Britain's feminist movement in the twentieth century deserves mention because it is growing in strength, especially after the role played by women in the First World War, which They filled the men's jobs at the front.

This situation increased its recognition in the society and economy of the country. Thus, in 1918 Great Britain, women over 30 got the vote. Between 1905 and 1917 the female vote was granted in Finland, Russia, Denmark and Norway.

In Spain, the closest thing happened in 1924 during the dictatorship of General Primo de Rivera, which allowed women over 23 who were heads of families and capable of reading and writing to appear as councilors; and granted the vote to those over 25 as long as they were independent of parental authority or guardianship of the husband, so that they could not vote contrary to him. But nevertheless, it is a dictatorship, so there was no opportunity to hold elections.

I am currently studying Journalism and Audiovisual Communication at the Rey Juan Carlos University, which has made me inclined towards the international section, including the study of languages. For this reason, I do not rule out teaching myself. I also like to practice physical exercise and spend a pleasant time chatting with my acquaintances and with new people. Finally, I enjoy traveling to know the authentic culture of each region of the world, although I admit that before I need to find out as much as possible about the place I'm going to visit, to fully enjoy the experience.

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