See study by S. G. Payne (1961).
Falange Española de las J.O.N.S. (better known as Falange or Phalange) is the name assigned to several political movements and parties dating from the 1930s, most particularly the original fascist movement in Spain. The word Falange means phalanx formation in Spanish. This warlike symbol was chosen due to the militaristic nature of the party.
In Spain, the Falange was an extremist political organization founded by José Antonio Primo de Rivera in 1933, during the Second Spanish Republic. Primo de Rivera was a Madrid lawyer, son of General Miguel Primo de Rivera, who governed Spain as Prime Minister with dictatorial power under King Alfonso XIII in the 1920s. General Primo de Rivera believed in state planning and government intervention in the economy. His son and the Falangists he led expressed regret for the demise of the elder Primo de Rivera's regime, and proposed to revive his policies and a program of national-syndicalist social organization.
In style and ideology Falangism was originally similar to Italian fascism. It shared its contempt for Bolshevism and other forms of socialism and its distaste for democracy, as well as its ideological centre-piece of National Syndicalism. Its uniform and aesthetic was similar to contemporary European fascist and national socialist movements. After the party was coopted by Franco and consolidated with the Carlists, it ceased have a fascist character (which seeks a revolutionary transformation of society whereas Franco was conservative), although it retained many of the external trappings of fascism.
During the Spanish Civil War the doctrine of the Falange was used by General Franco, who virtually took possession of its ideology, while José Antonio Primo de Rivera was sentenced to death by the Spanish Republican Government. During the war, and after its founder's death, the Falange was combined by decree (Unification Decree) with the Carlist party, under the sole command of Generalísimo Franco, forming the core of the sole official political organization in Spain, the Falange Española Tradicionalista y de las Juntas de Ofensiva Nacional-Sindicalista, or "Spanish Traditionalist Phalanx of the Assemblies of National-Syndicalist Offensive" (FET y de las JONS). This organization, also known as the National Movement (Movimiento Nacional) after 1945, continued until Franco's death in 1975. Since 1975, Phallangists have diversified into several different political movements which have continued into the 21st Century.
Members of the party were called Falangists (Falangistas).
The year after its founding, the Falange united with the Juntas de Ofensiva Nacional-Sindicalista of Onésimo Redondo, Ramiro Ledesma, and others, becoming Falange Española de las Juntas de Ofensiva Nacional-Sindicalista.
During the Second Spanish Republic, the Falange professed Christian values and confronted wealthy land-owners and communists. Its members were opposed by leftist revolutionaries.
After the electoral victory of the Popular Front, and still in a Democracy the party suffered official persecution and Primo de Rivera was arrested on (6 July 1936). The Falange joined the conspiracy to overthrow the Republic: On 17 July, the African army led by Franco rebelled. The next day nationalist forces in mainland Spain, including Primo de Rivera's party, followed suit.
During the Spanish Civil War, the Falangists fought on the Nationalist side against the Left-led Republic, being the fastest growing party on their side (from a few thousands to some hundred thousand members before the Unification). This sudden rise can be well explained; Franco used its ideological pillar.
The command of the party rested upon Manuel Hedilla, as many of the first generation leaders were dead or incarcerated by the Republicans. Among them was Primo de Rivera, who was a Government prisoner. As a result, he was referred to among the leadership as el Ausente, (the Absent One). On 20 November 1936 (a date since known as 20-N in Spain), Primo de Rivera was sentenced to death by the Spanish legal Government in a Republican prison, giving him martyr status among the Falangists. This conviction and sentence was possible because he had lost his Parliamentary immunity, after his party did not have enough votes during the last elections.
After Franco seized power on 19 April 1937, he united under his command the Falange with the Carlist Comunión Tradicionalista, forming Falange Española Tradicionalista y de las JONS (FET y de las JONS), whose official ideology were the falangist's 27 puntos. Despite this, the party was in fact a wide ranging nationalist coalition, closely controlled by Franco. Parts of the original Falangist (including Hedilla) and many Carlists did not join the unified party.
None of the vanquished parties in the war suffered such a toll of deaths among their leaders as did the Falange. Sixty per cent of the pre-war Falange membership lost their lives in the war.
Most of the property of all other parties and trade unions were assigned to the party. In 1938, all trade unions were unified under falangist command.
After the war, the party was charged with developing an ideology for Franco's regime. This job became a cursus honorum for ambitious politicians -- new converts, who were called camisas nuevas ("new shirts") in opposition to the more overtly populist and ideological "old shirts" from before the war.
The Falange also developed youth organizations (Flechas, Pelayos; compare to Hitlerjugend and Italian Balilla and Arditi), a female section (Sección Femenina) led by José Antonio's sister, that instructed young women on how to be "good patriots, good Christians and good wives", and a student's union (the Sindicato Unificado de Estudiantes (SEU)) -mandatory till the 1950s. The SEU ("Sindicato Español Universitario") was still mandatory during de 1960s.