More than 1,000 electoral rallies were held throughout Spain on Sunday (29 May) in the campaign to elect a new two-house Spanish parliament on the 15th of June, in the nation's first free poll in 40 year.
More than 1,000 electoral rallies were held throughout Spain on Sunday (29 May) in the campaign to elect a new two-house Spanish parliament on the 15th of June, in the nation's first free poll in 40 year. Most of the rallies were peaceful-but a major clash marred the five-day old election campaign. A traditional parade by the armed forces was followed by a right-wing Falangist demonstration-protesting at the name of the march-past being changed from the "Victory Day Parade" to "Armed Forces Day".
SYNOPSIS: A pig mascot led the forces parade down Madrid's Castellana Avenue. The march originally commemorated the victory of General Franco's nationalist forces over the Republicans in the 1936-39 civil war. The government wanted to change the name of the parade last year but the army high command refused. It was not until this year that they finally accepted the new title.
About 12,000 men and 150 aircraft and helicopters took part. The announcement earlier this month that no tanks or armoured vehicles would be included in the parade this year brought strong comment from the ultra-conservative newspaper, El Alcazar. An editorial said the government feared the vehicles would be used by the army to stage a coup. The Army Supreme Council condemned the article, and the paper's editor was indicated on a charge of inciting the armed forces to rebel.
King Juan Carlos took the salute from the passing troops in the parade and was then driven with Queen Sophia, his wife, down the avenue in an open-topped Rolls Royce. It was after the King left that a group of rightists began to march down the avenue.
The blue-shirted Falangists formed up and began chanting 'today is the day of victory'. Spectators jeered them and shouted abuse. Then the crowd began to cheer as police, some on horseback, moved in to break up the demonstration. The right wing is strongly opposed to the change of the parade's name, and see it simply as a weakening of the government. They have been equally critical of the legalisation of the Spanish Communist Party, saying the country now faces disaster.