José Antonio Primo de Rivera’s face appeared on some buses of the Municipal Transport Company (EMT) of the Madrid City Council as part of an election advertisement that the Spanish Falange installed on public transport nine days before the general elections of 23-J.
“For Jose Antonio / FE de las JONS vote / La Falange,” reads the message placed on a poster with Primo de Rivera’s face in black and white, the party symbol made up of several arrows. The advertisement is affixed to the back and sides of two EMT buses.
The Spanish Falange of JONS (Juntas de Ofensiva Nacional Sindicalista) is a political party founded in 1999 and contesting the 23rd general election. The formation has its origins in the Spanish Falange which was founded by José Antonio Primo de Rivera in 1933 under a fascist ideology.
The story of the dictator’s son
In April 2023, the remains of Primo de Rivera, son of dictator Miguel Primo de Rivera, were exhumed from Quilgamurus Valley and moved to the San Isidro Cemetery. The Falange Hymn was the official song of the Franco dictatorship.
What does an EMT say about Falange ads on buses?
According to EMT, the advertising of Falange on buses is carried out by Global, a company specializing in the advertising sector. The municipal company explains to Newtral.es that the Falange campaign has been contracted from 14 to 21 July in two buses. “Global is responsible for ensuring compliance with current legislation in the required campaigns,” the EMT told Newtral.es.
EMT adds that the global company contacted Autocontrol, a self-regulatory entity for the advertising industry, and the Provincial Electoral Council at the time Falange’s campaign was received. Both organizations referred Global to the District Electoral Council to respond to an inquiry about the ad.
“Autocontrol, the independent, self-regulatory body for the advertising industry in Spain, has confirmed that political campaigning does not fall within its scope of action,” says an email from the EMT.
What did the District Electoral Council respond to Global?
After consulting Newtral.es, the EMT reports that the Electoral Council of the region has responded to the company responsible for announcing the bus exploitation, defining its powers. “The electoral council of the district is responsible for distributing the various free places among the different political formations to place their propaganda posters and banners,” reads the council’s response compiled by EMT.
The district electoral board, citing EMT, says it is not the responsibility of electoral boards to “pre-check/supervise the content of election posters, nor to provide legal advice to any company or entity on the illegality of certain election posters.”
The global company refused to answer questions from Newtral.es about Falange’s advertisements on EMT buses. Newtral.es also consulted the Electoral Council of the Region of Madrid, but at the conclusion of this article there was no response.
Is the announcement of the brigades contrary to the legal framework?
Javier Tagadora, an expert in constitutional law from the University of the Basque Country, explains that it is not the responsibility of the Electoral Council to approve the declaration of political parties. He says, “The council can estimate the appeal if someone appeals it because they consider the Phalangists’ declaration to be inconsistent with the legal system.”
In this sense, he points out, putting a sticker with Primo de Rivera’s face, like the one Falang put on EMT buses, does not contradict the Spanish legal framework “because it is a permissive and guaranteed framework” for freedom of expression.
At the beginning of July, the Central Electoral Council declared that it “lacked the powers” to suspend a video of the Spanish Falange featuring “The Face of the Sun”. The agency’s response came through a query from RTVE asking if an advertisement for this party with the Falange anthem, used during Franco’s dictatorship, was compatible with the Code of Democratic Memory and, therefore, legal to be broadcast. Finally, RTVE proceeded to air the advertisement.