The president of Spanish party Ciudadanos, Albert Rivera, has said this Monday that he will support the PSOE government if their intention is to turn the Valle de los Caídos ("Valley of the Fallen") into a national cemetery like the one at Arlington, Virginia in the United States. That is, he will support it as long as the plan looks for consensus, not "to divide Spain artificially into two sides".
The Valle de los Caídos was set up by Francisco Franco near Madrid to bury and honour the dead from both sides of the Spanish Civil War. Because Franco himself is buried in the basilica and the site receives government funding it has become a focus of considerable controversy in Spain. PSOE is reportedly considering removing the dictator's remains from the site.
"If a bill is presented and there's a serious project to convert the Valle de los Caídos into a national cemetery, like the one in Arlington, where there's everyone and it doesn't matter which side they fought on, buried together, that's one thing. If what's wanted is to divide Spain artificially into two sides, that's another. If they bring it to the Congress, it needs a majority, consensus. You cannot make such a law with part of Spain against the rest", he said in an interview with Antena 3.
Specifically, Rivera said that "if the Valle de los Caídos has to be turned into a national cemetery", he would be in agreement with that, including if "that implies debating whether or not Franco's bones are removed". Meanwhile, if it was a question of "banning the cult of a dictatorship, of course" he party would give its support, as long as it's also prohibited to pay homage to "terrorists", because the conversation has to be about "historical memory, but all [of it]".
"These are some of the amendments and topics which Ciudadanos would put on the table if there's a bill on which they're looking for consensus", said Rivera but that, otherwise, "making a reform of this type would be a mistake". "It's a historical topic, a topic of the past. For many people it's important from an emotional, sentimental point of view".
Regardless, he believes that, for the moment, they are still testing the waters and they have to wait to see what proposal the government will bring. He criticised Pedro Sánchez for being more worried about "Franco's bones", which he sees as a matter of the past, than the future. "If what is wanted is, instead of a debate on education, health and justice, a debate on the past and not on the future, we'll see, but it seems that that is Sánchez's line".