Thus it is not altogether surprising that under the constitutional monarchy public affairs were dominated by an oligarchy and political activity mostly controlled by local bosses (caciques). In most parts of the country elections were rigged with little protest from the citizenry. It is certainly true that dissidents were excluded, discriminated against, and occasionally beaten up by hired thugs, particularly in the early years, but it is not at all clear that such practices were followed where the dissident minority was as large as 10 or 15 percent. Whenever a sizable minority of local voters showed a determination to have responsible elections, it became very difficult, and eventually impossible, to rig the contests. Even in Barcelona, however, no more than 25 percent of the electorate showed interest in voting until after the turn of the century. In some provinces, the local political leaders and bosses were genuinely accepted by the majority of people as representatives of local interests, and in many others they were tacitly accepted without a struggle by a society in which mutual concern and cooperation beyond the family group was not a strong cultural value. Caciquismo was a corollary of Spain's level of civil development in the later part of the nineteenth century.
Stanley G. Payne "The Spanish Revolution" W. W. Norton and Company, Inc. 1969