Franco’s family given deadline to move remains
Spain’s outgoing government has given the family of former dictator Francisco Franco a deadline to decide where his remains should be reburied, as it rushes to complete his relocation before the general election on April 28.
The Fascist leader is buried in the basilica at the Valley of the Fallen (pictured) near Madrid.
The authorities had wanted to move Franco’s remains to a family crypt under Madrid’s Almudena Cathedral, but were told the site could lead to “public disorder”.
The memorial site was partly built by leftist prisoners under forced labour to commemorate those killed in the Spanish Civil War. He died in 1975, not during the war, creating one source of anger about his burial there.
Spain remains bitterly divided over how Franco should be remembered with the far-right Vox party set to prosper in the snap election.
The minority Socialist administration says the site is a shrine to a brutal dictator who oversaw tens of thousands of executions. The party has repeatedly pledged to move the remains to a less grandiose site.
Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez says the symbolic gesture is needed to help Spain come to terms with its troubled past.
The exhumation could still be delayed if the family appeals against the decision at the Supreme Court.
Justice minister Dolores Delgado said the government would choose a location if Franco’s family failed to make a suggestion by the end of the month.
Franco family lawyer Luis Felipe Utrera described the deadline as “pure propaganda” and said the dictator’s relatives had the right to appeal.
If delayed, the decision could easily be reversed by a right-wing administration.
Polling ahead of the April election predicts a coalition including Vox, an extreme-right populist party critical of immigration and Catalan separatism. The party, which was formed in 2013, last year won 12 seats in Andalusia’s regional parliament.
It could go from zero national assembly MPs to 26 seats if it secured the 11-per-cent support suggested by polling. That might enable it to select which party formed the government in a kingmaker role.
No far-right party has won national representation since the death of Franco.
Vox’s mostly male leadership is known for its backward gender politics and commitment to Spanish unity.
The Valley of the Fallen. Picture credit: Wikimedia