The Falange was the official name for the Spanish Fascist Party. The Falange was founded in 1933 by José Antonio Primo de Rivera who was the son of the former Spanish dictator, General Primo de Rivera. The Falange emphasised the national traditions of Spain and combined these with fascist ideology. This adoption of classic fascist ideals brought the Falange into direct conflict with the Republicans who were viewed by the Falange as bringing non-Spanish beliefs into a Roman Catholic society – primarily communism, a belief that rejected religion as “the opium of the people”, according to Karl Marx.
José Antonio Primo de Rivera was seized by Republicans at the start of the Spanish Civil War and executed at Alicante on November 20th 1936.
In 1937, the Falange received the overt support of the army led by General Franco. In essence, the power of the army and the charisma of Franco effectively meant that the Falange was taken over by the military. The law was used – the Unification Decree – to unite the Falange with the Carlist Party. The combined party was renamed ‘Traditionalist Spanish Falange’ in 1937 and was the only political party tolerated by Franco.
During the Spanish Civil War, it is thought that as many as 60% of the original members of the Falange were killed fighting for Franco.
Between June 1939 and July 1942, the Grand Council of the Falange served as the principal legislative body in Spain and was answerable directly to Franco as Spain became a dictatorship. The ‘Traditionalist Spanish Falange’ developed into the Nationalist Movement that survived until Franco’s death in 1975.
As Franco became more entrenched in power, he decided that as he had the backing of the military, he did not need the Falange as much as they needed him. As a result of Franco dispensing with their support, the influence and power of the Falange in the form of the party that de Rivera founded declined rapidly.