Falange Española de las JONS

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Falange Española de las JONS
Founder José Antonio Primo de Rivera
Founded February–March 1934
Dissolved 19 April 1937
Preceded by Falange Española
Merged into FET y de las JONS
Newspaper Arriba (historical)
Patria Sindicalista
Student wing Sindicato Español Universitario (es)
Youth wing Frente de Juventudes
Ideology Falangism
National syndicalism
Spanish nationalism
Political position Far-right
Colors Black, Red (flag of the Falange); Blue
Party flag
Bandera FE JONS.svg

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 (About this sound listen ), was a fascist and national syndicalist political party founded in 1934 in the Spain Republic as merger of the Falange Española (founded in October 1933) and the Juntas de Ofensiva Nacional-Sindicalista (founded in October 1931). The Falange Española de las JONS ceased to exist as such when, during the Spanish Civil War, General Francisco Franco merged it with the Traditionalists in April 1937 to form the similarly named Falange Española Tradicionalista y de las Juntas de Ofensiva Nacional Sindicalista, which became the sole legal party in Spain until its dissolution in 1977.

Early history[edit]

In 1934, Falange Española merged with the Juntas de Ofensiva Nacional-Sindicalista of Onésimo Redondo and Ramiro Ledesma, becoming the Falange Española de las Juntas de Ofensiva Nacional-Sindicalista (Falange Española de las JONS).

Falange Española had been founded in October 1933 in Madrid by José Antonio Primo de Rivera, while the JONS were themselves a merger of the Valladolid-based Juntas Castellanas de Actuación Hispánica (JCAH), led by Onésimo Redondo and the Madrid-based group of La Conquista del Estado around Ramiro Ledesma Ramos.

The party direction was initially organised as a triumvirate formed by Ramiro Ledesma, Ruiz de Alda and José Antonio Primo de Rivera, while the secondary General Secretary position was given to Raimundo Fernández-Cuesta.[2] 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.[3]

Being a somewhat echumenical party, Martin Blinkhorn has recognised at least four different ideological strands within the Falange since the fusion until the expulsion of Ledesma: the conservatism one espoused by monarchists such as Francisco Moreno Herrera, marquis of the Eliseda, the authoritarian Catholicism of Redondo, the radical (and anti-clerical) national syndicalism of Ledesma and the distinctive elitist regenerationism of José Antonio Primo de Rivera.[4]

In October 1934, the direction unified under a National Chief ("Jefe Nacional") in the person of José Antonio and developed the political program known as "the 27 Points".[5]

In November 1934, the marquis of the Eliseda, who was a financial backer of the party, left the Falange over disagreements with the proposals of the party in regards of the state-church relations, which he deemed "frankly heretical".[6] His dismissal left the party without its main financial income and propaganda aparatus.[7]

Inner tensions over the draft of the political program continued. The power struggle between Ramiro Ledesma, who espoused a radical and anticapitalist vision; and José Antonio Primo de Rivera, which held a more conservative and aristocratic one, eventually led to the expulsion of Ledesma in January 1935.[8]

The party was republican, modernist, championed the lower classes and opposed both oligarchy and communism, but it never garnered the kind of popular following demonstrated by fascist movements elsewhere in Europe.[9] 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.[10] 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 (es)).[11]

Following the elections the left-wing Popular Front government persecuted the Falange and imprisoned the Marqués de Estella 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[edit]

The Swan as a symbol of Grand Inquisitor Cisneros (1436–1517) based on his personal coat of arms while the shirt shield from the Frente de Juventudes (1950s) 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,[12] the Falange's male membership was accompanied by a female auxiliary, the Sección Femenina. Led by the 3rd Marqués de Estella'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.[13]

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 the Marqués de Estella, 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, Estella 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.

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.[14]

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.[15]

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 party was coopted by General 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.[16][17][18][19]

Franco era[edit]

Falange party flag

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.[20] 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.[21]

By the middle of 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".[22]

The Falange also developed youth organizations, with members known as Flechas and Pelayos.[citation needed]

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.[23] 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.[24]

Post-Franco era[edit]

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 the 3rd Marqués de Estella and General 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 and 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.[25]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Jean-Benoît Nadeau; Julie Barlow (2013). The Story of Spanish. St. Martin's Press. p. 285. 
  2. ^ Sanz Hoya 2008, p. 187.
  3. ^ 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).
  4. ^ Blinkhorn 1975, p. 168.
  5. ^ Quirosa-Cheyrouse y Muñoz 1998, p. 62.
  6. ^ González Cuevas 1996, pp. 107-108; Sanz Hoya 2008, p. 151; Diego González 1998, p. 47.
  7. ^ González Calleja 2012.
  8. ^ Preston 2003, p. 223.
  9. ^ Berdichevsky, Norman (September 2008). "Franco, Fascism and the Falange: Not One and the Same Thing". New English Review. 
  10. ^ Payne 1987, p. 65.
  11. ^ Payne 1987, p. 62.
  12. ^ Payne 1987, p. 176.
  13. ^ Payne 1987, p. 187.
  14. ^ Paul Preston, Franco, London: 1995, pp. 261-6
  15. ^ Hugh Thomas, The Spanish Civil War (2001), p. 903
  16. ^ "Visions of Awakening Space and Time : Dogen and the Lotus Sutra". 
  17. ^ "Franco and the Spanish Civil War". 
  18. ^ "The transformation of Spain". 
  19. ^ Payne, Stanley. "Fascism in Spain, 19231977". 
  20. ^ Payne 1987, p. 238.
  21. ^ Payne 1987, p. 308-09.
  22. ^ Payne 1987, p. 322.
  23. ^ Payne 1987, p. 523.
  24. ^ Payne 1987, p. 527.
  25. ^ "Falange splinter group smashed by police sting - Navarran cell, unknown to mainstream far-right, attacked ETA families, bars" (PDF). 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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