The Spanish government on Thursday exhumed the remains of the former dictator Gen. Francisco Franco from the underground basilica that he built after winning his country’s civil war. The move had prompted criticism that, coming just two weeks before a national election, it would reopen old rifts in Spanish society.
Franco’s remains were flown by helicopter from the basilica where he was buried in 1975 to a cemetery near Madrid that contains a family crypt where his wife is buried and that is beside El Pardo palace, which Franco used during his rule.
The exhumation and reburial followed a yearlong judicial battle between the caretaker Socialist government of Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez and relatives of Franco who had sought to reverse the decision.
Mr. Sánchez said on Thursday that the exhumation would “bring an end to the moral insult that is the exaltation of a dictator in a public space.”
The government said the exhumation would cost about $70,000. But Pablo Casado, the leader of the opposition Popular Party, said last month that not “one cent” should be spent on exhuming Franco, who governed the country for almost four decades.
“I’m more worried about living dictators than dead ones,” Mr. Casado said. “I would like to speak about the Spain of my children rather than that of my grandparents.”