New Spanish government sets out plan to restore ‘democratic memory’

Post date: 20/01/2020

The IBMT has welcomed the commitment of the Spanish government to renew efforts to recover the country’s ‘democratic memory’ of the Spanish Civil War and subsequent Franco dictatorship.

Speaking at the London Socialist Film Coop on 12 January, IBMT Chair Jim Jump said a newly announced five-point plan was a very positive development.

'However, much depends on whether proper funding will be available to implement it,’ he cautioned.

Jump made these comments at a screening of the award-winning 2018 documentary ‘The Silence of Others’ on the victims of Franco and their struggle for truth and justice.

Spain’s new government, under Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, brings together the PSOE socialist party with its junior coalition partner Unidas Podemos, itself an alliance of the left-wing Podemos movement and the communist-led Izquierda Unida (United Left).

This follows the general election in November last year in which the PSOE emerged as the largest single party but without a majority in the Spanish parliament. The result replicated an earlier inconclusive election in April.

The key elements of the policy on democratic memory agreed between the PSOE and Unidas Podemos are:

• making 31 October a day of remembrance for the victims of the civil war and dictatorship;
• implementing a programme of exhumations of Franco’s victims from mass graves;
• removing of all Francoist symbols and outlawing support for Franco in public places;
• annulling court decisions made during the civil war and dictatorship for politically-related offences;
• carrying out an audit of property confiscated from Republican supporters by the Franco regime with the aim of returning them to their legitimate owners.

At the London Socialist Film Coop Jump pointed out that this latest initiative builds on the law on ‘historic memory’ introduced in 2007 by the previous socialist administration under Prime Minister José Luis Zapatero. Though this introduced many important measures, such as granting automatic citizenship to International Brigaders, it had ultimately ran into the ground because of resistance from the judiciary and obstruction by several regional governments, particularly over the exhumation of mass graves.

Before the latest general election, Sánchez's minority socialist government fulfilled the pledge to remove Franco’s remains from his mausoleum north-west of Madrid at the Valle de los Caídos, which was built by Republican prisoners. 

Appointed in January, one of the new government’s four deputy prime ministers, Carmen Calvo, of the PSOE, will be in charge of implementing the democratic memory plan. 

The coalition government was approved by the Spanish parliament on 7 January this year, becoming the first left-wing coalition government since the Spanish Republic of the 1930s and the first time there has been communist representation in the government since 1939.


Posted on 20 January 2020.

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