Removal of Franco’s remains approved by Spanish parliament

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SPANISH MPs have voted in favour of a motion put forward by the opposition PSOE party to move the remains of former dictator Franciso Franco to a new location.

Although the motion is non-binding, the result is significant politically as it was passed by 197 votes to one, although 140 MPs from the country’s ruling conservative Popular Party (PP) and the Republican Left of Catalonia abstained.

It also extends to the body of Franco’s predecessor Jose Antonio Primo de Rivera, who founded the fascist and nationalist Falange political party in 1933.

Both men are currently buried at the controversial Valley of the Fallen memorial near Madrid.

The monument is supposed to commemorate the estimated 500,000 people who died during the Spanish Civil War and contains the remains of more than 33,000 victims, but the only two marked graves are occupied by Franco and Primo de Rivera.

In a statement prior to the vote, the PSOE said it had raised the motion so that the valley “ceases to be a place of Francoist and national-Catholic memory and is redesigned as a space for reconciliation and collective democratic memory, where victims of the civil war and dictatorship are recognised and treated with dignity.”

Franco led the country from 1939 to 1975, and if the motion were to be actioned, his body would be exhumed while that of Primo de Rivera would be moved to a less prominent position in the basilica.

The document also calls for an investigation into setting up a DNA bank to name the thousands of unidentified victims of the civil war and subsequent dictatorship, plus a census of public infrastructure built using forced labour during Franco’s time.

It is part of an attempt by the PSOE to revive the Historical Memory Law, which was approved by socialist former Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero in 2007 and legalised the removal of iconography and street names honouring the Franco regime.

Funding related to the law was axed by the PP when current Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy assumed power in 2011.

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