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The attempted coup that put Spain’s democracy on tenterhooks

Spain will on Tuesday mark the fortieth anniversary of an attempted right-wing coup which for hours left the nation in a state of political chaos.

This is how the coup that threatened Spain’s fragile democracy unfolded, lower than six years after dictator common Francisco Franco died in 1975:

The assault

On the night of February 23, 1981 about 200 Civil Guard officers stormed the decrease home of parliament, firing assault rifles within the air as MPs debated the investiture of a new centrist government.

The group was led by lieutenant-colonel Antonio Tejero, who ordered everybody to lie on the ground.

Only three folks didn’t dive for canopy, outgoing prime minister Adolfo Suarez, his deputy common Gutierrez Mellado and the chief of the newly legalised Communist party, Santiago Carrillo.

While the roughly 350 MPs had been taken hostage in Madrid, common Jaime Milans del Bosch — a hardline military officer from the Franco regime — ordered tanks and troops onto the streets of , japanese Spain, to again the revolt.

In Madrid, rebels took over the studios of Spain’s public TV and radio for about 90 minutes earlier than they had been dispersed by riot police.

Inhabitants of the Spanish capital locked themselves at residence and a few packed their baggage, getting ready to flee.

King’s counterstrike

King Juan Carlos instantly sought to close down the coup. From the Zarzuela Palace close to Madrid he known as generals throughout the nation and ordered them to respect the brand new authorities.

In 1978, Spain had adopted a constitution that was overwhelmingly supported in a referendum and which established a parliamentary monarchy.

During the evening that adopted the coup try, the monarch took motion in opposition to its political chief Alfonso Armada, a common who had been the king’s navy teacher and later his secretary.

Juan Carlos barred Armada from the Zarzuela Palace and rejected his proposal to type a brand new authorities.

Just after 1:00 am, the king went on tv in his uniform as Captain General of the Armed Forces to say he had ordered all measures be taken to keep up the constitutional order.

“The Crown, … will not tolerate, in any degree whatsoever, the actions or behaviour of anyone attempting, through use of force, to interrupt the democratic process of the Constitution,” he mentioned.

The rebels who stormed parliament surrendered at midday on February 24, lower than a day after launching their attempted coup.

The context

The coup try got here amid widespread disenchantment with Suarez, who had been appointed prime minister by Juan Carlos in 1976.

By February 1981, the king had fallen out with Suarez, a centrist who confronted fierce opposition from the Socialists and strain from navy officers angered by the Communist Party’s legalisation.

The navy was additionally upset by the federal government’s failure to finish the Basque separatist group ETA‘s long-running marketing campaign of violence.

Suarez offered his shock resignation on January 29, 1981 following a gathering with navy leaders on the Zarzuela Palace.

Armada instantly tried to benefit from his affect over the king to be appointed as Suarez’s alternative.

When that failed, Armada pushed forward with preparations for the coup with Tejero and Milans del Bosch.

A navy court docket sentenced all three males to 30 years in jail.

Armada obtained a pardon in 1988 whereas Milans del Bosch was launched in 1990 and Tejero in 1996.

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