June 29, 2009 / 7:55 PM / 10 years ago

Madrid strips Franco of honorary titles

Former Spanish dictator General Francisco Franco (L) speaks from the balcony of Madrid's Royal Palace next to the then Prince Juan Carlos of Spain in an undated photo. REUTERS/File

MADRID (Reuters) - Madrid’s city hall Monday stripped former Spanish dictator Francisco Franco of his title as honorary mayor and adopted son of the capital, 33 years after his death began the transition to democracy.

Councilors of all political colors unanimously voted to remove the titles, as well as medals Madrid conferred on the right-wing general, a spokesman for the council said.

“The capital of Spain is now clean of support for dictators,” left-wing Councilor Milagros Hernandez, was quoted as saying on the website of TV news channel CNN+.

The move is the latest in a effort spearheaded by the Socialist government to remove traces of Franco in street names, statues and other symbols glorifying the dictator who gained power after a three-year civil war which ended in 1939 and ruled until his death in 1975.

The removals started under a law passed in 2007 by the government of Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, whose grandfather was killed by Franco’s forces.

The push reverses an unspoken understanding after Franco’s death that his supporters would relinquish power on condition that future democrats would not rake up the past.

Members of the conservative Popular Party have criticized the socialist law for, as they see it, needlessly dragging up the wounds of the past. However, the PP — which rules the local authority in Madrid — backed the proposal to strip Franco of the city’s honors.

Reporting by Sarah Morris; editing by Ralph Boulton

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