Franco’s image on wane on 30th anniversary
21 November 2005
MADRID — The image of Spanish military dictator Francisco Franco on the 30th anniversary of his death is worse than it was five years ago, according to a new poll.
The poll published in the daily El Mundo found Franco was perceived as a bad or very bad leader by 51.2 percent of those polled, compared with 38.1 percent in a survey conducted in 2000, the newspaper said.
The negative view of the late dictator was strongest among young people, aged 18-29 years, and less unfavourable among those over 65.
The poll was conducted by the Sigma Dos institute among a sample of 800 people on 14-15 November.
On the other hand, the survey showed that more people think Franco’s influence can still be found in Spanish society: 24.1 percent currently compared with 17.7 percent five years ago.
In the early hours of November 20, 1975, Franco died after a long illness ending his 39 years in power.
On Sunday, his supporters gathered to mark the anniversary of his passing at the Valle de los Caidos (Valley of the Fallen) mausoleum outside Madrid, while anti-fascists staged rallies in the capital.
Madrid police said about 1,000 people congregated in the Plaza de Oriente – the traditional site for pro-regime rallies and gatherings during the four decades of Franco’s authoritarian rule – to commemorate the death of the then-82-year-old “Caudillo” (leader), as he was called.
Waving Spanish flags and displaying right-wing symbols of various sorts, the demonstrators shouted “Viva, Franco!” and hurled insults at prime minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero.
During the rally, which lasted more than two hours, those on hand listened to speeches by various figures from the Spanish right, including octogenarian ultra-conservative Blas Piñar, the founder of the New Force.
He praised Franco and said that nowadays “the state is dedicated to destroying the nation through the regional structure and the Constitution of 1978”.
In addition, speakers had harsh words for immigrants – especially Muslims, of whom there are some 1 million in Spain – and came out against abortion and the country’s gay marriage law, which was passed in June.
After the event, about 40 people went to another central Madrid plaza, where they placed a floral wreath on the pedestal where, until last March, the only statue of Franco remaining in the city had stood.
On Saturday, some 6,000 people attended the Mass celebrated at the Valley of the Fallen, where Franco’s remains are interred.
Elsewhere in Spain, four men ripped a commemorative marble plaque off Franco’s birthplace in the north-western city of La Coruña, after which they were arrested.
And about 30 youths gathered outside a church near Barcelona where a Mass was being celebrated for Franco and Jose Antonio Primo de Rivera, the founder of the Spanish Falange, the only legal party during the dictatorship.
The acts honouring Franco, who ruled Spain for almost 40 years after a military uprising sparked a vicious and bloody three-year civil war in 1936, coincided with other ceremonies recalling the end of the authoritarian regime and the full restoration of the monarchy in the person of King Juan Carlos on 22 November, 1975.
During the first three years after Juan Carlos assumed the throne, Spain made a political about-face, opening the door to its current well-established democracy and to its full inclusion in European affairs.
A new constitution was drafted and ratified by referendum in December 1978, but just over two years later, in February 1981, conservative military officers attempted a coup d’etat, which was successfully put down.
During the three decades since the return of democracy, Spain has had five prime ministers of different political stripes: centrists Adolfo Suarez and Leopoldo Calvo-Sotelo, Socialist Felipe Gonzalez, conservative Jose Maria Aznar and Zapatero, also a Socialist.
[Copyright EFE with Expatica]
Subject: Spanish news