Falange Española de las JONS

Spanish Falange of the JONS
Falange Española de las JONS
Founder José Antonio Primo de Rivera
Founded 29 October 1933 (1933-10-29)
Dissolved 19 April 1937 (original)
Merged into FET y de las JONS
Newspaper Patria Sindicalista, Arriba (historical)
Student wing Sindicato Español Universitario
Youth wing Frente de Juventudes
Ideology Falangism
National syndicalism
Political position Far-right
Religion Catholic Church
Colors Black, Red (flag of the Falange); Blue
Party flag

Falange Española de las Juntas de Ofensiva Nacional-Sindicalista (Spanish for "Spanish Phalanx of the Councils of the National-Syndicalist Offensive";[1] FE de las JONS for short), or simply called the Falange ( listen ), was a Fascist and National Syndicalist political party founded in Spain by José Antonio Primo de Rivera in 1933. Originally just called the Falange Española ("Spanish Phalanx"), in 1934, the party absorbed the Juntas de Ofensiva Nacional-Sindicalista, being renamed Falange Española de las Juntas de Ofensiva Nacional-Sindicalista after the latter organization's integration into the party. The Falange Española de las JONS ceased to exist as an independent entity when, in 1937 during the Spanish Civil War, Francisco Franco combined it with the Carlists to form the similarly named Falange Española Tradicionalista y de las Juntas de Ofensiva Nacional Sindicalista (a more conservative than fascist party) which became the sole legal party in Spain until its dissolution in 1977.

Historical context

In Spain, the Falange was a political organization founded by José Antonio Primo de Rivera in 1933, during the Second Spanish Republic. Primo de Rivera was the son of General Miguel Primo de Rivera, who governed Spain as Prime Minister in the 1920s.

Unlike other members of the Spanish right, the Falange was republican, avant-gardist, and modernist (see Early History below), in a manner similar to the original spirit of Italian Fascism. Its uniform and aesthetic were similar to contemporary European fascist and national socialist movements. After the party was coopted by Francisco Franco and consolidated with the Carlists, it ceased to have a fascist character (to the extent Fascism is considered revolutionary) inasmuch as Franco was a Monarchist, although it retained many of the external trappings of fascism.[2][3][4][5]

During the Spanish Civil War the doctrine of the Falange was used by General Franco, who virtually took possession of its ideology, while José Antonio Primo de Rivera, arrested before the beginning of the war, was executed by the Spanish Republican Government. During the war, and after its founder's death, the Falange was combined by decree (Unification Decree) with the Carlist party, under the sole command of Franco, forming the core of the sole official political organization in Spain, the Falange Española Tradicionalista y de las Juntas de Ofensiva Nacional-Sindicalista, or "Spanish Traditionalist Phalanx of the Assemblies of National-Syndicalist Offensive" (FET y de las JONS). This organization, also known as the National Movement (Movimiento Nacional) after 1945, continued until Franco's death in 1975.

Early history

The year after its founding, the Falange united with the Juntas de Ofensiva Nacional-Sindicalista of Onésimo Redondo, Ramiro Ledesma, and others, becoming Falange Española de las Juntas de Ofensiva Nacional-Sindicalista (Falange Española de las JONS).

The Falange was not an archetypal party of the right. Ronald Hilton has argued that Spanish leftists spoke of José Antonio with respect.[6] The party attracted a considerable number of prominent intellectuals, including Pedro Mourlane Michelena, Rafael Sánchez Mazas, Ernesto Giménez Caballero, Eugenio Montes, José María Alfaro, Agustín de Foxa, Luys Santa Marina, Samuel Ros, Jacinto Miquelarena and Dionisio Ridruejo.[7] The party was republican, modernist, championed the lower classes and opposed both oligarchy and communism, and it never garnered the kind of popular following demonstrated by fascist movements elsewhere in Europe.[8] For these reasons the Falange was shunned by other right-leaning parties in the Spanish general election, 1936, where it received just 0.7% percent of the vote and did not win a single seat in the Cortes. It only surpassed one percent of the vote in five provinces, performing best in the Provinces of Valladolid and Cadiz, where it received between four and five percent.[9] Having likely never exceeded ten thousand members in the early 1930s, the Falange lost supporters in the run-up to the Civil War, leaving a core of young, dedicated activists, many in the organization's student organization, the SEU (Sindicato Español Universitario).[10]

Following the elections the left-wing Popular Front government persecuted the Falange and imprisoned Primo de Rivera on 6 July 1936. In turn, the Falange joined the conspiracy to overthrow the Republic, supporting the military revolt ultimately led by Francisco Franco and continuing to do so throughout the ensuing Spanish Civil War.

Spanish Civil War

The Swan as a symbol of Grand Inquisitor Cisneros (1436–1517) based on his personal coat of arms. Shirt Shield from the Frente de Juventudes, 1950s. This shield was also worn on the uniform of the Milicias Universitarias

With the eruption of the Civil War in July 1936, the Falange fought on the Nationalist side against the Second Spanish Republic. Expanding rapidly from several thousand to several hundred thousand,[11] the Falange's male membership was accompanied by a female auxiliary, the Sección Femenina. Led by José Antonio's sister Pilar, this latter subsidiary organization claimed more than a half million members by the end of the war and provided nursing and support services for the Nationalist forces.[12]

The command of the party rested upon Manuel Hedilla, as many of the first generation leaders were dead or incarcerated by the Republicans. Among them was Primo de Rivera, who was a Government prisoner. As a result, he was referred to among the leadership as el Ausente, (the Absent One). After being sentenced to death on November 18, 1936, Primo de Rivera was executed on November 20, 1936 (a date since known as 20-N in Spain), in a Republican prison, giving him martyr status among the Falangists. This conviction and sentence was possible because he had lost his Parliamentary immunity, after his party did not have enough votes during the last elections.

After Franco seized power on 19 April 1937, he united under his command the Falange with the Carlist Comunión Tradicionalista, forming Falange Española Tradicionalista y de las Juntas de Ofensiva Nacional Sindicalista (FET y de las JONS), whose official ideology was the Falangists' 27 puntos—reduced, after the unification, to 26. Despite this, the party was in fact a wide-ranging nationalist coalition, closely controlled by Franco. Parts of the original Falange (including Hedilla) and many Carlists did not join the unified party. Franco had sought to control the Falange after a clash between Hedilla and his main critics within the group, the legitimistas of Agustín Aznar and Sancho Dávila y Fernández de Celis, that threatened to derail the Nationalist war effort.[13]

None of the vanquished parties in the war suffered such a toll of deaths among their leaders as did the Falange. Sixty per cent of the pre-war Falange membership lost their lives in the war.[14]

However, most of the property of all other parties and trade unions were assigned to the party. In 1938, all trade unions were unified under Falangist command.

Franco era

Falange party flag
Main article: Francoist Spain

After the war, the party was charged with developing an ideology for Franco's regime. This job became a cursus honorum for ambitious politicians—new converts, who were called camisas nuevas ("new shirts") in opposition to the more overtly populist and ideological "old shirts" from before the war.

Membership in the Falange/FET reached a peak of 932,000 in 1942.[15] Despite the official unification of the various Nationalist factions within the party in 1937, tensions continued between dedicated Falangists and other groups, particularly Carlists. Such tensions erupted in violence with the Begoña Incident of August 1942, when hardline Falangist activists attacked a Carlist religious gathering in Bilbao with grenades. The attack and the response of Carlist government ministers (most notably José Enrique Varela and Valentín Galarza Morante) led to a government crisis and caused Franco to dismiss several ministers. Ultimately, six Falangists were convicted of the attack and one, Juan Domínguez, was executed.[16]

By the middle of the World War II, Franco and leading Falangists, while distancing themselves from the faltering European fascists, stressed the unique "Spanish Catholic authoritarianism" of the regime and the Falange. Instructions were issued in September 1943 that henceforth the Falange/FET would be referred to exclusively as a "movement" and not a "party".[17]

The Falange also developed youth organizations, with members known as Flechas and Pelayos.

With improving relations with the United States, the "Spanish miracle", and the rise of a group of relatively young technocrats within the government, the Falange continued to decline. In 1965 the SEU, the movement's student organization, was officially disbanded.[18] At the same time, the membership of the Falange as a whole was both shrinking and aging. (In 1974 the average age of Falangists in Madrid was at least 55 years). The organization's relatively few new members came mostly from the conservative and devoutly Catholic areas of northern Spain.[19]

Post-Franco era

After Franco's death (20 November 1975, also known as "20-N") the monarchy of Spain was restored to the House of Bourbon in the person of King Juan Carlos and a move towards democratization began under Adolfo Suárez, a former chief of the Movimiento. The Spanish transition to democracy splintered the Falange. In the first elections in 1977, three different groups fought in court for the right to the Falangist name. Today, decades after the end of the Francoist regime, Spain still has a minor Falangist element, represented by a number of tiny political parties. Chief among these are the Falange Española de las JONS (which takes its name from the historical party), Authentic Falange, Falange Española Independiente (which later merged with the FE de las JONS), and FE - La Falange. Vastly reduced in size and power today, these Falangist-inspired parties are rarely seen publicly except on ballot papers, in State-funded TV election advertisements, and during demonstrations on historic dates, like 20 November (death of Jose Antonio Primo de Rivera and General Francisco Franco). These three parties received 27,166 votes amongst them in the Spanish general election, 2004.

In 2009, police arrested five members of a Falangist splinter group calling itself Falange y Tradición. They alleged that this group which was unknown to mainstream Falangist groups, had been involved in a raft of violent attacks in the Navarre region. These attacks were primarily targeted at Basque separatist group ETA and their sympathisers.[20]


Symbols of Francoism:

See also


  1. Jean-Benoît Nadeau; Julie Barlow (2013). The Story of Spanish. St. Martin's Press. p. 285.
  2. "Visions of Awakening Space and Time : Dogen and the Lotus Sutra".
  3. "Franco and the Spanish Civil War".
  4. "The transformation of Spain".
  5. Payne, Stanley. "Fascism in Spain, 19231977".
  6. "SPAIN: Jose Antonio Primo de Rivera 10.27.03".
  7. See Mónica and Pablo Carbajosa, La Corte Literaria de José Antonio (Crítica; Barcelona, 2003) and Mechtild Albert, Vanguardistas de Camisa Azul tr. by Cristina Diez Pampliego and Juan Ramón García Ober (Madrid: Visor Libros, 2003).
  8. Berdichevsky, Norman (September 2008). "Franco, Fascism and the Falange: Not One and the Same Thing". New English Review.
  9. Payne, S.G. The Franco Regime, 1936-1975. Madison: University of Wisconsin, 1987. p 65.
  10. Payne 1987, p. 62.
  11. Payne 1987, p. 176.
  12. Payne 1987, p. 187.
  13. Paul Preston, Franco, London: 1995, pp. 261-6
  14. Hugh Thomas, The Spanish Civil War (2001), p. 903
  15. Payne 1987, p. 238.
  16. Payne 1987, p. 308-09.
  17. Payne 1987, p. 322.
  18. Payne 1987, p. 523.
  19. Payne 1987, p. 527.
  20. "Falange splinter group smashed by police sting - Navarran cell, unknown to mainstream far-right, attacked ETA families, bars.". El Pais - English Edition with the International Herald Tribune. El Pais. 24 October 2009. Archived from the original (PDF) on 25 October 2009. Retrieved 2009-10-25.
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