Spain has said that the remains of the late dictator Francisco Franco will be moved from the opulent Valley of the Fallen mausoleum to a state-run pantheon in June.
It follows several months of wrangling between the socialist Spanish government and Franco’s family, as well as resistance from Spain’s right-wing and far-right parties and groups.
It has also revived old tensions from Spain’s civil war and the subsequent four decades of Franco’s dictatorship.
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‘The reburial of Franco’s remains will take place on the morning of 10 June,’ Deputy Prime Minister Carmen Calvo said.
She said the body will be taken to the Mingorrubio-El Pardo state pantheon in a cemetery north of Madrid, where Franco’s wife is buried.
Franco’s current tomb at the Valley of the Fallen, west of Madrid, is on a huge hillside topped with a gigantic crucifix. It draws visits from tourists and rallies held by right-wing groups – with far-right sympathisers often giving fascist salutes.
The former right-wing People’s Party (PP) government resisted bids to exhume Franco, but Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez took up the task after taking office last June.
His government has also gained the Vatican’s approval for the move.
Sánchez’s government has previously rejected a proposal by Franco’s family to relocate him to Madrid’s main cathedral, fearing it would become a place of pilgrimage for sympathisers.
The National Francisco Franco Foundation, which defends the memory of the dictator, has said it will appeal the move at the Supreme Court.
‘When you attack Franco, you attack my family, over half of Spain, the monarchy and the Church which protected him,’ Franco’s great-grandson Luis Alfonso de Borbon said in an interview published in conservative daily newspaper La Razon in October.
Spain’s announcement comes as the country is gearing up for snap elections on 28 April.
Sánchez is trying to prevent the PP from returning to power with the support of newly-emerged far-right party Vox.
The two parties oppose Sánchez’s policies to try to rehabilitate the memory of the left-wing victims of the civil war and Francisco Franco’s dictatorship.
Last month, Sánchez visited France to pay tribute to the 450,000 Spaniards who sought refuge there at the end of the 1936-39 civil war and during the dictatorship.
He has vowed to defend the values of ‘tolerance and reject extremism’ in times of rising populism.