Communist Party of Spain

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Communist Party of Spain


(CPS, Partido Comunista de España), a party established on Apr. 15, 1920, by the National Assembly of the Federation of Socialist Youth of Spain as the Spanish Communist Party.

The founding of the party was part of the revolutionary upsurge that intensified under the influence of the Great October Socialist Revolution. Immediately after its creation, it joined the Comintern. The formation of the party accelerated a split in the Socialist Workers’ Party. The Extraordinary Congress of the Socialist Workers’ Party passed a resolution to reject the twentyone conditions for acceptance into the Comintern; leftist delegates who opposed this decision proclaimed the creation of the Spanish Communist Workers’ Party on Apr. 13, 1921. A single party, the Communist Party of Spain, emerged from a conference in Madrid, Nov. 7–14, 1921, of the two Communist parties. The First Congress of the party was held in March 1922. It approved the policy of a united front with the workers—members of the General Union of Workers (UGT) and those among the anarchists.

After the establishment of the military dictatorship of General Primo de Rivera in September 1923, the Communist Party was forced underground. After the overthrow of the monarchy on Apr. 14, 1931, which initiated the Spanish Revolution of 1931–39, the party left the underground to face the pressing task of overcoming the sectarian methods of work that had spread in the CPS. The Fourth Congress of the CPS (March 1932) decisively condemned sectarian tendencies and party members who espoused them.

Under the leadership of José Díaz, general secretary of the CPS from 1932 to 1942, Dolores Ibarruri, and others elected to the Central Committee by the congress, the CPS soon turned into one of the most influential political forces in the country. Fighting to achieve unity among workers and all strata of society capable of opposing the growing threat of fascism, the CPS proposed the creation of a broad antifascist front. The mass actions of 1934 were an important landmark in the struggle to rally the antifascists: the strike in October 1934 against the inclusion in the government of representatives of the Confederation of Autonomous Rights (CEDA); the popular uprising in Asturias; and armed demonstrations in Madrid, Catalonia, the Basque Provinces, and León. In December 1935 the General Confederation of United Workers (CGTU), led by the communists, joined the UGT, which was dominated by the socialists, and in January 1936 the CPS was instrumental in forming the Popular Front, composed of communist, socialist, and republican parties, which was victorious over the bloc of monarchist and clerical-fascist parties in the parliamentary elections of Feb. 16, 1936. In April 1936 the communist and socialist youth organizations merged to form the United Socialist Youth; in July 1936 four workers’ parties of Catalonia united on a Marxist-Leninist platform and created the Unified Socialist Party of Catalonia, which began working closely with the CPS.

During the National Revolutionary War of 1936–39, the CPS was a prime organizer of the Spanish people’s rebuff to the fascist military insurrection, which was supported by the fascist regimes of Germany and Italy. On all fronts Communists stood in the first ranks of defenders of the republic. The 70,000 fighting men of the Fifth Regiment, created by the Communists, became the nucleus of the new people’s army. On the initiative of the CPS, a number of important measures aimed at increasing the republic’s defensive capacity were carried out; agrarian reform was implemented in the republic, resulting in the transfer of more than 5 million hectares of landlord lands to the peasants; a considerable number of the large banks and enterprises passed into state control; and Catalonia and the Basque Provinces received autonomy. The membership of the CPS reached 300,000 during the National Revolutionary War (from 30,000 at the beginning of 1936 and 100,000 in June 1936). After the fall of the republic in March 1939 and the extension of the Franco dictatorship throughout Spain, the CPS managed to carry out the necessary reorganization of its ranks despite harsh repression and the underground conditions in which it was forced to work.

During World War II the CPS strove to keep Spain from entering the war on the side of Hitler’s Germany and to aid the guerrilla movement. After the war the CPS set about developing new tactics, combining legal and illegal forms of struggle in the new political situation. Rejecting guerrilla war as a useless method for the revolutionary movement under the changed conditions, the party led large-scale mass demonstrations opposing the Franco dictatorship and supporting genuine national independence and the elimination of American bases on Spanish territory.

The Fifth Congress of the CPS, held in November 1954, adopted the “Program of the Communist Party of Spain in the Struggle for the Independence and Democratization of Spain and for the Fundamental Improvement of the Living Conditions of the Spanish People.” The program pointed out that the impending democratic revolution in Spain would be directed above all at monopoly capital, which had been gaining strength in the country, and the landed aristocracy, as well as against foreign imperialist forces, above all the USA, which were undermining Spain’s national sovereignty. The congress adopted new party rules. Seeking to achieve unity of action with all forces opposed to the regime, the CPS in 1956 put forth the slogan of “national concord.” The party began to establish contacts with Catholics, the progressive intelligentsia, the students, and anyone who favored the liquidation of the existing regime.

The Sixth Congress of the CPS, held in January 1960, confirmed the policy of national concord. Taking into account the recent international and domestic changes, as well as the recent experience of the Spanish and international workers’ movement, the congress reworked the program adopted by the Fifth Congress.

The new program spoke of the two stages of the Spanish revolution—democratic and socialist—and established that the Communist Party of Spain regarded its immediate task to be ending the Franco dictatorship and clearing the way for the country’s democratic development. The congress confirmed the CPS position on the major questions of domestic and international policy: defense of the rights of the peoples of Catalonia, the Basque Provinces, and Galicia to national autonomy; support for the national liberation struggle of the peoples of the colonies; resolution of all unsettled questions between Spain and Morocco; and the establishment of freedom of worship and the separation of church and state.

The congress introduced certain changes into the party rules. The post of chairman of the CPS was established, and the regular plenary session of the Central Committee of the party elected D. Ibarruri to this position (she was general secretary of the CPS from 1942 to I960). S. Carrillo was elected general secretary of the CPS.

In 1961 the CPS took the initiative in establishing a broad trade union opposition movement based on the organization of worker commissions democratically elected by the workers in enterprises; the commissions would stand in opposition to the official “vertical trade unions.” Active in the organization of the anti-Franco movement in various forms, such as strikes and demonstrations, the CPS has stood for peaceful democratic revolution in Spain, although it has refused to rule out the possibility of other means if reactionary violence compels the democratic forces to take up arms. The political resolution of the Eighth Congress of the CPS (October 1972) noted that the party stands for the preparation of a general political strike, which is to develop into a general national strike with the goal of eliminating the Franco regime.

Delegations of the CPS took part in the international Conferences of Communist and Workers’ Parties in Moscow in 1957 and 1960. The CPS approved the documents adopted by the conferences. A delegation from the CPS participated in the international Conference of Communist and Workers’ Parties that took place in Moscow in 1969.

Under its present rules, the CPS is built on the principle of democratic centralism. The supreme body is the party Congress; in the intervals between congresses, it is the Central Committee, from whose membership the Executive Committee and Secretariat are elected. The CPS includes the Communist Party of the Basque Provinces, the Unified Socialist Party of Catalonia, and the Communist Party of Galicia as autonomous organizations.

The chairman of the CPS is D. Ibarruri, and the general secretary is S. Carrillo. The central organ is Mundo obrero; the theoretical organ, the journal Nuestra bandera. (See Table 1 for a list of the congresses of the CPS.)

Table 1. Congresses of the Communist Party of Spain
First ...............MadridMarch 1922
Second ...............MadridJuly 1923
Third ...............ParisAugust 1929
Fourth ...............SevilleMarch 1932
Fifth ............... Nov. 1–5, 1954
Sixth ............... Jan. 28–31, 1960
Seventh ............... August 1965
Eighth ............... October 1972


Istoriia Kommunisticheskoi partii Ispanii, Kratkii kurs. Moscow, 1961. (Translated from Spanish.)
Ibarruri, D. “40 let Kommunisticheskoi partii Ispanii, ee korni, ee ideologicheskaia osnova i deiatel’nost’.” In VIs”ezd Kommunisticheskoi partii Ispanii 28–31 ianv. 1960. Moscow, 1960. (Translated from Spanish.)
Ibarruri, D. Edinstvennyi put’. Moscow, 1962. (Translated from Spanish.)
Ibarruri, D. V bor’be. Moscow, 1968. (Translated from Spanish.)


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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