The Falange Española Tradicionalista y de las Juntas de Ofensiva Nacional Sindicalista (FET y de las JONS; lit. 'Traditionalist Spanish Phalanx of the Councils of the National Syndicalist Offensive'), frequently shortened to just "FET", was the sole legal party of the Francoist regime in Spain. It was created by General Francisco Franco in 1937 as a merger of the Carlist, monarchist, and ultracatholic Traditionalist Communion with the fascist Falange Española de las JONS (FE de las JONS). In addition to the resemblance of names, the party formally retained most of the platform of FE de las JONS (26 out of 27 points) and a similar inner structure. In force until April 1977, it was rebranded as Movimiento Nacional in 1958.
The FET y de las JONS began as the Spanish Falange, a Falangist party, The Council of National Syndicalist Offensives, a national syndicalist party and Catholic Monarchist Traditionalist Communion, a Catholic monarchist party, three parties that were becoming relevant in Spanish right wing politics before the civil war. The Spanish Falange and the Council of National Syndicalist Offensives were relatively small, and merged into the Spanish Falange de la JONS leading up to the 1936 election. As civil war broke out, the Falange grew rapidly in membership, and the Traditionalist Communion, already a prominent force, mobilized its forces to fight the leftist government.
Spanish Civil War
With the eruption of the Civil War in July 1936, the Falange fought on the side of the Nationalist faction against the Second Spanish Republic. Expanding rapidly from several thousand to several hundred thousand, 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.
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 18 November 1936, José Antonio Primo de Rivera was executed on 20 November 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.
On April 19, 1937 Francisco Franco issued a Unification Decree, which forcibly merged the Falange with the Carlist Comunión Tradicionalista to form the Falange Española Tradicionalista y de las JONS (FET y de las JONS). Franco assumed the role of jefe nacional ("National Chief"), following the model of Fascist party.[note 3] All other parties supporting the rebel faction were disbanded, but former members of those parties were free to join the FET as individual members. The new party's official ideology was the Falangists' 27 puntos—reduced after the unification to 26, the article barring mergers being dropped. The merged party incorporated many Falangist symbols–the blue shirt, the yoked arrows, the red and black flag, and the anthem Cara al Sol among others. 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. Franco became jefe nacional and "Supreme Caudillo" of the FET. He was vested with "the most absolute authority," including the power to name his successor, and was only responsible to "God and history."
None of the vanquished parties in the war suffered such a toll of deaths among their leaders as did the Falange. 60% of the pre-war Falange membership lost their lives in the war.
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.
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. 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 government ministers with Carlist leanings (most notably Varela and Galarza) 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.
By the middle of the Second World War, 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".
The Falange also developed youth organizations, with members known as Flechas and Pelayos, under the umbrella of the Spanish Youths Organization. Most of these young members wore red berets.
With improving relations with the United States, economic development 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. 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.
- ^ Headquarters of the General Secretariat.
- Blinkhorn 2003, pp. 10–11: "The Franco regime-the only European regime with a major radical fascist ingredient to survive long beyond 1945, and studied here by Paul Preston—is a useful example. Notwithstanding the aforementioned fascisant tendencies within the Spanish Catholic and monarchist right, radical fascism, in the form of the Falange (fused from 1934 with the JONS), was weak until 1936 when it began to expand rapidly, not least through the recruitment of disillusioned JAP-ists. [...] The product, like the Italian Fascist regime, was a compromise between radical fascism and conservative authoritarianism, in this case with unambiguous military and Church support. As Preston indicates, Falangism played a superficially prominent and important role for as long as it suited Franco, that is, until the mid-1940s, thereafter to be shunned into the sidings of Spanish political life.";
- Griffin & Feldman 2004, pp. 82–83; Albanese & Hierro 2016, p. 54: "It was the FET-JONS, the main actor in Spain, which wanted the full fascistization of the country and which was mos active during the period in trying to achieve it through the so-called 'syndicalist revolution'. This should not come as a surprise; Falange did not need the fascistization process, since it was already fully fascist from the beginning. Further, relations between Falange and Italy had become increasingly stronger since the Spanish Civil War, to the extent that Mussolini saw the Spanish party at the main vehicle capable of transforming Spain into a fully fascist country. Similarly, FET-jons also regarded Mussolini's Italy as its main point of reference and even asked the authorities in Rome for advice about carrying out the fascistization process of the Francoist regime as effectively as possible.";
- Thomàs 2020, pp. 38–39: "Al referirnos a fascismo español lo hacemos a dos organizaciones diferentes. En primer lugar al partido fascista Falange Española de las JONS, que existió entre 1934 y el 19 de abril de 1937; y en segundo, al partido único del régimen franquista, Falange Española Tradicionalista y de las JONS, creado el último día citado y subsistente durante toda la vigencia del Franquismo -ni más ni menos que hasta abril de 1977, aunque en 1958 trocó su denominación por la de Movimiento Nacional. Existieron así dos organizaciones fascistas diferentes, aunque la segunda nació en parte de la primera y la integró."
- ^ According to Enrique Moradiellos, Franco's rule as jefe nacional could be split into three periods: the first one, parallel to the period with the greatest level of fascistization of the regime, marked by the preeminence of Ramón Serrano Suñer as right hand (1937–1941); the second one, in which Franco assumed a more active role (1941–1945) in the party affairs, with the first spell of José Luis de Arrese as Secretary-General, and from 1945 until his death, the period in which Franco distanced from the daily affairs of an increasingly bureaucratic FET y de las JONS.
- Albanese, Matteo; Hierro, Pablo del (2016). Transnational Fascism in the Twentieth Century: Spain, Italy and the Global Neo-Fascist Network. Bloomsbury Publishing. ISBN 978-1-4725-3200-8. Retrieved 5 July 2020.
- Blinkhorn, Martin (2003). Fascists and Conservatives: The Radical Right and the Establishment in Twentieth-Century Europe. Routledge. ISBN 978-1-134-99712-1.
- Griffin, Roger; Feldman, Matthew (2004). Fascism: The 'fascist epoch'. Taylor & Francis. pp. 82–83. ISBN 978-0-415-29019-7. Retrieved 5 July 2020.
- Payne, Stanley G. (1987). The Franco Regime, 1936–1975. Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press. ISBN 978-0-299-11074-1.
- Thomàs, Joan Maria (2013). "La unificación: coyuntura y proyecto de futuro". In Ruiz Carnicer, Miguel Ángel (ed.). Falange. Las culturas políticas del fascismo en la España de Franco (1936-1975) (PDF). Zaragoza: Institución Fernando el Catolico. p. 170. ISBN 978-84-9911-216-9.
- Thomàs, Joan Maria (2019). José Antonio Primo de Rivera: The Reality and Myth of a Spanish Fascist Leader. Berghahn Books. ISBN 978-1-78920-209-0.
- Thomàs, Joan Maria (2020). "La Alemania nazi y el fascismo español durante la Guerra Civil". Cuadernos de Historia de España (in Spanish). Buenos Aires: Universidad de Buenos Aires. 87 (87): 38. doi:10.34096/che.n87.9047. ISSN 0325-1195.