32) “Adolfo Suárez, In Memoriam”

by Javier Carro

Topics: Frontpage, Leadership

Adolfo-Suarez-asg-w-300x224_27mar14

 “Adolfo Suárez, In Memoriam”

March 26, 2014.

-The leader who changed the history of Spain-

Adolfo Suárez, Spain’s former Prime Minister who led the nation to democracy, following the death of Franco, died at the age of 81 (Cebreros/Ávila, September 25, 1932 – Madrid, March 23, 2014).

The respected statesman had suffered from Alzheimer’s disease for the last decade and passed away six days after being admitted into a Madrid hospital with a respiratory infection. Adolfo Suárez has been remembered with tears in Madrid, and whole Spain along this week. The people collective hearts were broken. Remembered fondly for his youthful vigor and seductive character.

He was the man who steered the country after Franco. It was King Juan Carlos who named Suárez as the Prime Minister (“Presidenteʺ) in a new government in 1976, just months after Gen. Franco died ending almost four decades. He was confirmed as leader of democratic Spain in a general election the following year. He successfully steered Spain through a delicate transition period overcoming deep rifts within society left over from the 1936-1939 Civil War, with an amnesty for political offences.

King Juan Carlos led the tributes describing Mr Suárez as a ʺloyal friend and exceptional partner”.

Thousands of Spaniards lined the streets of Madrid on Tuesday to bid an emotional farewell to the former statesman, the former prime minister hailed as the architect of Spain’s transition to democracy, as his coffin was carried through the capital before being taken for burial in his home province of Ávila. During the solemn procession on Tuesday, there were shouts of “Learn from him!” coming from the crowd, directed at the political leaders walking behind the coffin. “People are disillusioned with current party politics, and they are disillusioned with current politicians, who are widely seen as rather mediocre figures. This very much colours their reading of Suárez,” said Charles Powell, a Madrid-based historian and biographer of the former leader. “Suárez, unlike current political leaders, is seen as a statesman rather than a party political leader.”

The features of the charm: in the face-to-face showed a close and seductive character. The charm always accompanied him. Even in the moments of failure, who approached him had then wonders about the conversation at his side. The keys to the seduction of Adolfo Suárez can reel off in brief but intense features. Always hearty. Adolfo Suárez spoke on the short distances to the leg the trowel. Permanent smile. His usual smile would see white teeth as the keys of a piano and showed a great bonhomie. He was a stronger defender of the values of dialogue and consensus. Suárez understood better short distances: the meeting alone, the discreet pact, the foreground before the camera. And how does not: the table and winks of Mus (playing cards).

He was a passionate football-fan, and a great supporter of Deportivo-La Coruña (he had lived in La Coruña with his parents for some years).

His speeches are famous: Historical message of June 13, 1977, (“I can promise and promise”) to ask for the vote to UCD (Union of the Democratic Centre):

Good evening, ladies and gentlemen: I come to talk to you about a new horizon for Spain. I come to ask for your vote to make it possible. I am, as a candidate, to ask for your vote to the Union of the Democratic Centre (…/…)

I can promise, and promise, to try to draw up a Constitution in collaboration with all stakeholders represented in the courts, anyone who is its number of seats. I can promise, and I promise, because after the elections there will be already the necessary instruments, dedicate all efforts to achieve social understanding that allow setting the new basic lines that follow the economy Spanish in the coming years. I can promise, and promise, that men’s Union of the Democratic Centre will promote a tax reform to ensure, once and for all, to pay more who else has. I can promise, and promise, a legal framework for institutionalizing each region according to its own characteristics. I can promise, and promise, that we will work with honesty, with cleaning and in such a way that all of you can control the actions of Government. I can, in the end, promise and promise, that achievement of a Spain for all not will be endangered by the ambitions of some of the privileges of a few. Ladies and gentlemen: today as candidate request your vote. I request for nominations to Congress that Union of the Democratic Centre presents in all Spain and for the men and women’s Union of the Democratic Centre who aspire to the Senate. (…/…)

With your assistance, from the normalcy that we are reaching, since the moderation that inspires us, since dialogue with all groups and parties, I think that we will be able to consolidate permanently and firmly a democratic monarchy, capable of providing realistic response to the problems confronting us. That is, ladies and gentlemen, our horizon. And so I ask for your vote. Thanks a lotʺ.

Suárez had been General Secretary in the National Movement (Movimiento Nacional, Falange), and he had hesitated in the process against the set of forces who tried to oppose it, especially during the scarce year elapsed between his appointment as head of Government and the first free elections, of the 15 June 1977. He decided to first amnesty of political prisoners, dissolved the single Party (National Movement), legalized the groups who jostled for democracy; Socialists and Communists to the sectors contained more disconcerting, while Suárez beat so that the same Parliament that Franco had passed a law that gave way to universal suffrage. In 1977, the time of greatest glory and power by Adolfo Suárez, the main factor of strangulation of the Spanish economy was inflation (that year reached an annual rate of 40%), not unemployment. In June of that year when wins elections, Suarez and his two top aides, Fernando Abril Martorell and Enrique Fuentes Quintana, trace two directions: first, negotiations with Europe, which will last eight years still before the full integration of the Spanish: “Europe are three institutions: the Common Market, NATO and the Council of Europe”. The second direction was to obtain a consensus, despite having won the elections with much slack, to develop and implement an economic policy that taken out the country from its catastrophic situation. That agreement, which in principle did not exist either in the Council of Ministers (why negotiate if we have won at the ballot box?), they were the “Moncloa Pacts”, the pacts brought stabilization measures and structural reforms, represented a crucial contribution to the success of the transition process.

On October 28, 1982, just 21 months after resign, Adolfo Suárez collapsed in the general election. All centrism collapsed, specially his old party, UCD, and the new one, CDS. But the electoral collapse of the former President was particularly symbolic. From 168 Members who had UCD in 1979 moved in 1982 to 11 of UCD and 2 CDS. In three years, centrism had lost four million votes. The electoral earthquake in 1982 put an end to a cycle. Despite this, Suarez kept the experiment of the CDS and went up in the following elections: in 1986 it was 1.8 million votes and 19 seats, becoming the third political force, but in 1989, fell again in the General Elections: 14 seats. The ʺtwo-party system” made its appearance… Suárez resigned as President of the CD in 1991. That was his final point in Spanish political life, but Adolfo Suárez had made history.

He remains as one of Spaniards’ favorite leaders and the most charming and loved Presidente. Adolfo Suárez will become the “Spanish Kennedy”.

As said by poet Alfred Tennyson. ʺTears of the widower, when he sees…Her place is empty, fall like these”.

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