Andorrans seek universal male suffrage, 1933

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Timing
Time Period:  
April
1933
to
September
1933
Location and Goals
Country: 
Andorra
Goals: 
1) To attain universal male suffrage

2) To acquire Andorran independence from the co-princes in France and Spain. This was only briefly a goal, and was ultimately forgotten.

 

Preceding the campaign of 1933, only the eldest man in an Andorran household could vote. Due to Andorra’s long life expectancy, this meant that even middle-aged men were often unable to vote.

In April 1933 a group of young Andorran men drove around the country chanting “we want the vote” and headed toward the Casa de les Valls, which housed the General Council. One source claimed that the reason the protest began was related to a casino, but the claim could not be substantiated. On the way to the Casa de Valls, the original young men were joined by a total of 200 young supporters, who stormed the Casa de les Valls and forced the General Council to agree to grant universal male suffrage. Yet, after the men had left, the General Council decided not to submit the agreement. In response, an organization of Andorran expatriates in Barcelona threatened to kidnap the General Council members. Within three weeks, the expatriates had joined with the young Andorran men and together they stormed the Casa de les Valls once more.

At this point, the leader Andrés Massó added a fleeting new goal to the agenda, saying, “Nothing short of independence will do”.

By June, the First Syndic (the head of the General Council) exiled Andrés Massó and had dismissed the General Council. The General Council refused to be dissolved, even when the French Co-Prince of Andorra (the French president) urged them to obey. Consequently, the campaigners’ oppositional target shifted to the French, and the Andorran youth and rebels were joined by the rest of the Andorran populace.

Election dates intended to select a new General Council were constantly postponed because Andorrans insisted that their young men deserved suffrage. Andorrans further hindered the elections through acts of civil disobedience, for example Andorrans blocked the parliament building with their donkeys.

On July 24, when sixteen French deputies and the French Prefect of Perpignan came to Andorra on a visit, the Andorran people demonstrated against them. Then on July 29, the dismissed General Council further disobeyed the French co-prince by taking over the main government building.

On August 19, sixty gendarmes were sent by the French co-prince to occupy Andorra. They arrested six officials, disarmed the constabulary and Andorran police, and took over the House of Government. Meanwhile, a French agent, M. Samolin was placed in charge of the Andorran people and officials. As a result, the First Syndic joined the side of the Andorran people. He first called for the Andorran people to gather in opposition to the French occupation, and then he refused to give the French the keys to the Casa de les Valls.

On August 21, delegates of the Andorran people met in secret and asked the First Syndic and General Council to resign within 24 hours and hand over the authority to the six First Consuls (headmen) of the six Communes.

By the 24, the six Consuls had governing authority over Andorra. An election date was set for August 31, which was agreed upon by the people. For the first time, all Andorran men over the age of 25 were allowed to vote. The elections resulted in a new General Council and First Syndic. The gendarmes withdrew in October. Yet, in 1941 the Vichy French Military government revoked universal suffrage in Andorra, which was not granted again until 1947.

Research Notes
Sources: 
“Chronology.” Bulletin of International News. Vol. 10, No. 3 (Aug. 3, 1933), pp. 10-28.

“Chronology.” Bulletin of International News. Vol. 10, No. 5 (Aug. 31, 1933), pp 12-27.

“Chronology.” Bulletin of International News. Vol. 10, No. 9 (Oct. 26, 1933), pp. 9-33.

“Chronology.” Bulletin of International News. Vol. 11, No. 3 (Aug. 2, 1934), pp. 12-41

Eccardt, Thomas M. Secrets of the Seven Smallest States of Europe: Andorra, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, San Marino, and Vatican City. New York: Hippocrene Books, Inc., 2005, pp. 152-155

ICC. Europe Review 2003/04. England: Walden Publishing Ltd, 2003, pp. 10.

Fernsworth, Lawrence A. “Andorra: The Passing of the Last Feudal State.” Foreign Affairs, Vol. 12, No. 2 (Jan., 1934), pp. 335-338.

Name of researcher, and date dd/mm/yyyy: 
Lindsay Carpenter, 27/7/2011