Fernando Ruenes, president of New Generations in the Asturian municipality of Llanes, resigned along with the group’s treasurer, Pablo Alonso, after the photo showing them posing with the flag in one of the party’s offices, was leaked online.
Both have said that they are "extremely sorry for the damage caused to the Popular Party", adding that the photograph was "a joke" and was taken before they took up their positions, in September 2014.
They claim the photograph was taken towards the end of 2013, but it was clearly snapped in one of the offices of the Popular Party; in the background posters for Spanish Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy and the Asturian PP President, Mercedes Fernández, are clearly visible.
Ruenes says it was "an error" to take the photograph, according to Spanish radio station, Cadena Ser, but he also added that he was surprised that this image of a pre-constitutional flag has been so heavily criticized when "Catalans fly the estelada (an unofficial flag often flown by supporters of the Catalan separatist movement), which is not constitutional, and the Basques fly flags calling for reconciliation with ETA prisoners."
Both men blame the leaking of the photograph on the political enemies of Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, suggesting it is part of a their strategy in this key political year in Spain.
New Generations was created three years after the 1975 death of dictator, Gen Francisco Franco. The organization’s aim is to involve young people in the politics of the conservative Popular Party, currently in power in Spain.
The party’s youth wing has around 65,000 members throughout Spain, approximately 65 percent of all young people involved in political organizations.