Tributes have poured in from across Spain after the death of former prime minister, Adolfo Suarez at the age of 81.
Suarez was one of the country’s most respected politicians after guiding the nation through the turbulent years following the death of the fascist dictator Francisco Franco.
King Juan Carlos who became a personal friend of Suarez who had been suffering from Alzheimer’s for nearly a decade, called him a ‘great statesman’.
“He always showed loyalty to the Crown and all it represented: the defense of democracy, the rule of law and the unity and diversity of Spain,” said King Juan Carlos in a televised tribute.
It was after Franco’s death in 1975 that King Juan Carlos called on Suarez, a young Francoist minister, to try to unite the country’s disparate political factions who were further apart than ever after nearly 40 years of fascism exiled thousands of left-wingers.
He went on to organise Spain’s first democratic elections since the war which he ended up winning in 1977.
Spain’s current Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said Suarez had acted as a bridge for reconciliation between Spaniards:
“It’s the moment now to show our respect and gratitude to a man of consensus that made possible democracy in Spain and opened to us the doors of Europe.”
Three days of official mourning have been announced begining today when politicians of all parties will pay their respects to the man recognised as one of the founding fathers of modern Spain.
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