Political row erupts over exhumation of Franco remains

Pro-independence parties and Socialists criticize unionist Cs' intention to not support decree authorizing removal of dictator’s body from Valley of the Fallen

Valle de los Caídos ('Valley of the Fallen') monument, viewed from the esplanade.
Valle de los Caídos ('Valley of the Fallen') monument, viewed from the esplanade. / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

August 22, 2018 05:49 PM

For over 40 years the remains of dictator Francisco Franco have lain in the mausoleum outside Madrid known as the Valley of the Fallen. However, the intention by Spain’s Socialist government to pass a decree on Friday ordering the remains be exhumed has led to a political row, with Spain’s People's Party (PP) and Ciudadanos (Cs) parties against the move.

If both parties refuse to support the decree, its approval will be in the hands of the pro-independence parties and Unidos Podemos -which includes Catalan force En Comú Podem, non-aligned over independence-. 

"Cs and PP are competing to see who can act most like a caveman out of the two," said Alfred Bosch, of Catalonia’s Esquerra (ERC) party. Bosch called it “incomprehensible” that Cs and PP should oppose the public display of symbols supporting jailed political leaders and not favor the removal of Franco’s remains. “A mausoleum devoted to the memory of a military dictator does not affect the neutrality of the public space?” Bosch asked rhetorically.

Bosch went further, saying that his party not only supports the efforts to exhume the dictator’s remains, but is calling for a “complete review of the injustices of the dictatorship,” with the overturning of sentences handed down by the Franco regime, such as the execution in 1940 of the then Catalan president, Lluís Companys.

Urgency of the measure “not justified,” says PP

Yet, PP is threatening to appeal to Spain’s Constitutional Court should the government pass the decree modifying historical memory legislation to authorize the removal of Franco’s remains. According to a PP spokesman, the urgency of the move is “not justified” and he accused the minority Socialist government of governing by decree and currying favor with parties, such as ERC and Podemos.