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By Paul Preston

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The main consequence of this, above all in the south, was that the UGT passed gradually, in the summer of 1930, from a secondary role in anarchist-led strikes to a more independent and dynamic one. With the exception of the Basque country, where Prieto had considerable support, the initiative for Socialist participation in the republican movement came from the masses, with the Besteiro- and Largo-Caballero-dominated leadership trailing behind. During the summer, the greatest labour agitation took place in the south, with general strikes in Seville, Granada and Málaga.

This was reflected in the elections for party offices at the PSOE’s Twelfth Congress, and for posts in the UGT at the union’s Sixteenth Congress. Besteiro was elected president of both the PSOE and the UGT. All senior offices went to followers either of Besteiro or of Largo Caballero. 62 21 THE COMING OF THE SPANISH CIVIL WAR Nevertheless, conflict between the workers’ movement and the regime was increasing. 64 In Asturias, the inability of the comités paritarios to resolve the problems of the mines was ever more apparent.

In 1924 Largo had opted for co-operation with the Dictatorship for no more theoretical reason than that he could see substantial material benefits for the UGT in doing so. By the same token, now in 1927, he began to change his mind in the face of growing evidence that such a tactic was having a deleterious effect on the UGT’s membership rolls. 55 The loss of prestige could be justified only if it were compensated by an increase in numbers. Yet there was little indication that the UGT’s virtual monopoly within the state industrial arbitration machinery had a significant positive effect on recruitment.

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