• Short Summary

    INTRODUCTION: Spanish Prime Minister Adolfo Suarez announced his resignation on Thursday (29 January), taking the country by surprise.

  • Description

    SV and CUs (FILE) Adolfo Suarez at first news conference (2 shots)

    CU (FILE) Suarez speaking.

    SV and CU (FILE) journalists take notes as Suarez speaks. (3 shots)

    CU Suarez speaking in Spanish



    Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved

    Background: INTRODUCTION: Spanish Prime Minister Adolfo Suarez announced his resignation on Thursday (29 January), taking the country by surprise. Although he has recently come in for increasing criticism from the right wing of his own Centre Democratic Union Party (U.C.D.), he was expected to weather the storm. An official spokesman said only that 48-year-old Mr. Suarez was stepping down for strictly personal reasons.

    The resignation was presented to King Juan Carlos on Wednesday (28 January). A government spokesman said the King had accepted it and that it was "irrevocable."
    SYNOPSIS: When Adolfo Suarez gave his first news conference as Prime Minister three and a half years ago, after the first free elections in Spain for 41 years, few suspected that his democratic achievements were to be so many. Before Franco's death Prime Minister Suarez had won the Falangist uniform as head of the only legal political party,yet he was to usher in a multi-party system - including lifting a ban on the Spanish Communist Party - as well as introducing free trade unions and acting to curb the political influence of the army. His centrist coalition government, which was swept to power by more than six million voters in 1977, seemed set to rule until 1983 when his position was confirmed by another election victory two years ago.

    But when he reversed his policy on local autonomy following growing violence in the Basque country of northeast Spain, his party suffered a series of defeats at local elections. His critics within the party became more vocal, complaining that his government lacked direction and that the party lacked internal democracy. The row would have come to a head at a National Party Congress which was due to open at Palma, Majorca, on Thursday (29 January). Mr. Suarez was expected to survive the criticism this time, though many in his party feared he would not be able to give them another victory in 1983.

    In his farewell to the nation, Mr. Suarez said his decision had not been easy, but he was convinced that leaving was more beneficial for spain than remaining in office. He warned that personal attacks were a danger to democracy, and asked Spanish politicians not to resort to them in future. He said his efforts to give Spain a new system of liberties had been worthwhile, but the continuity of the task demanded a change of personalities. He said he did not wish the democratic system to be another short interlude in the history of Spain.

    Under the constitution, the whole government resigns with its leader. But the UCD has a working majority and seems certain to provide the next Prime Minister. One likely candidate is Leopoldo Calvo Sotelo, currently in charge of economic policy.

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