March 18, 2019 / 4:18 PM / 6 months ago

Spanish far-right Vox enlists ex-generals to run for parliament

FILE PHOTO: General view of the Valle de los Caidos (Valley of the Fallen), the mausoleum holding the remains of former Spanish dictator Francisco Franco, on the 43rd anniversary of his death in San Lorenzo de El Escorial, outside Madrid, Spain, November 20, 2018. REUTERS/Sergio Perez/File Photo

MADRID (Reuters) - Spanish far-right party Vox has signed up three former generals to run for parliament in next month’s general election, two of whom expressed support for the legacy of former right-wing dictator Francisco Franco by signing a petition last year.

The inclusion of openly pro-Franco candidates with senior military backgrounds underscores the ground that Vox has broken in a country that had largely shied away from far-right, militaristic politics since General Franco’s rule ended with his death in 1975.

Former generals Agustin Rosety and Alberto Asarta will run as parliamentary candidates for the provinces of Cadiz and Castellon, Vox said. Another former general, Manuel Mestre, is running in Alicante, according to the party. Vox had already enlisted another general to run for mayor in Palma de Mallorca.

Rosety and Asarta signed a manifesto last year in support of Franco’s legacy, including the military uprising that ignited the 1936-1939 Spanish civil war and resulted in his rule until 1975.

Asarta signed the manifesto last year, according to a copy of it, while Rosety has signed it subsequently, said local media.

The manifesto, which was has been signed by about 600 former members of the armed forces, was issued as a response to the Socialist government’s plans to remove Franco’s remains from a state mausoleum outside Madrid, according to the promoters. The mausoleum has long been seen by critics as a monument to fascism.

Latest opinion polls show support for Vox, which opposes gender equality laws and immigration and has a strong stance against independence for Spain’s regions, as high as 12.1 percent. That could translate into 38 seats in the national parliament at the April 28 election.

Vox grabbed attention last year when it became the first far-right party in Spain in more than four decades to score an electoral victory, winning seats in a local election in Andalusia.

The Franco mausoleum at the Valley of the Fallen has long been a source of controversy. The Socialist government said last Friday the dictator’s body will be removed on June 10 and reburied in the family tomb at a state cemetery outside Madrid.

Reporting by Belen Carreno; Writing by Jose Elias Rodriguez; Editing by Axel Bugge and Frances Kerry

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