Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Adolfo Suárez

When the Spanish dictator Francisco Franco died on 20 November 1975, nobody predicted the central role that would be played in the country's political development by Adolfo Suárez González, a young bureaucrat of the country's single party, the Falange, or Movimiento. Many expected a bloodbath and only a few hoped that the passage to democracy might be managed through negotiation between the more liberal supporters of the dictatorship and the more moderate members of the opposition. In the event  Suárez led and ensured that transition as Spain's first elected prime minister after Franco, but was not himself able to flourish in the new political environment.

King Juan Carlos joined politicians in parliament on Monday to pay their last respects to Adolfo Suárez who died at the age of 81 on 23 March 2014 after suffering from Alzheimer’s for over 10 years. 

Prime minister Mariano Rajoy and other political leaders stood outside the parliament building as soldiers brought in Suárez's coffin to a slow and solemn drum beat. Flags flew at half-staff as Spain held three days of mourning for one of the key architects of Spain's transition from dictatorship to democracy in the 1970s. In his honour, the government announced that Madrid's Barajas airport would now be called Adolfo Suárez, Madrid-Barajas airport.

In the parliament, the king laid a Royal Order of Carlos III gold chain, Spain's highest civilian award, close to the coffin before expressing his condolences to Suárez's family.

Suárez's body lay in state on Monday before a burial on Tuesday in Avila, 60 miles north-west of the capital.

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