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24th Oct 2021

Polish MEP praising General Franco sparks parliament clash

A Polish MEP has sparked a sharp exchange of views in the European Parliament with his comment that Europe needs more politicians like Spanish dictator General Franco, as deputies debated the lessons learnt 70 years after his coup in Spain.

Maciej Marian Giertych, a Polish non-attached MEP from the League of Polish Families, a ruling coalition party in Poland, broke rank from his European counterparts who condemned General Franco and his dictatorship during a plenary debate on Tuesday (4 July).

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In his speech on the subject, Mr Giertych praised the Spanish right-wing powers and in particular general Francisco Franco for stopping the spread of communism to western Europe in the first half of the 20th century.

"The presence of such personalities as Franco, Salazar or DeValera in European politics guaranteed Europe's preservance of traditional values. We lack such men of action these days," said the Polish deputy.

"We observe deep sorrow some attempts for a historical revisionism which tends to criticise all that is traditional and catholic while portray in a positive light all that is lay and socialist."

"Let's not forget that Nazism in Germany and fascism in Italy were also spiced up by socialist and atheist taste," Mr Giertych added.

His speech was followed by a furious outcry from the German socialist leader Martin Schultz.

"What we have just heard is Mr Franco's ghost. It was a fascist speech and such a statement has no place in the European Parliament," said Mr Schultz, while shouting "You are Nazi" to some protesting Polish deputies.

The centre-right leader Hans Gert Poettering also denounced such statements, saying that while he himself is a catholic, he condemns any dictatorship even if it was trying to create conditions to support catholic ideals.

Over the past few months, socialist and liberal MEPs have several times criticised Polish government members, particularly for their views and policies on gays and lesbians.

Talking to journalists after the debate, Mr Schultz said "we can still see people like that spread around Europe" and argued "We need to create strong international pressure to fight against such tendencies as we are definitely not going to tolerate them."

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