The Attempted Coup That Put Spain's Democracy On Tenterhooks
Umer Jamshaid 10 days ago Fri 19th February 2021 | 10:30 AM
Madrid, (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 19th Feb, 2021 ) :Spain will on Tuesday mark the 40th anniversary of an attempted right-wing coup which for hours left the country in a state of political chaos.
This is how the coup that threatened Spain's fragile democracy unfolded, less than six years after dictator general Francisco Franco died in 1975: - The assault - On the evening of February 23, 1981 about 200 Civil Guard officers stormed the lower house of parliament, firing assault rifles in the air as MPs debated the investiture of a new centrist government.
The group was led by lieutenant-colonel Antonio Tejero, who ordered everyone to lie on the floor.
While the roughly 350 MPs were taken hostage in Madrid, general Jaime Milans del Bosch -- a hardline army officer from the Franco regime -- ordered tanks and troops onto the streets of Valencia, eastern Spain, to back the revolt.
Inhabitants of the Spanish capital locked themselves at home and some packed their bags, preparing to flee.
- King's counterstrike - King Juan Carlos immediately sought to shut down the coup. From the Zarzuela Palace near Madrid he called generals across the country and ordered them to respect the new government.
In 1978, Spain had adopted a constitution that was overwhelmingly supported in a referendum and which established a parliamentary monarchy.
During the night that followed the coup attempt, the monarch took action against its political leader Alfonso Armada, a general who had been the king's military instructor and later his secretary.
"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 said.
- The context - The coup attempt came amid widespread disenchantment with Suarez, who had been appointed prime minister by Juan Carlos in 1976.
The military was also upset by the government's failure to end the Basque separatist group ETA's long-running campaign of violence.
Suarez presented his surprise resignation on January 29, 1981 following a meeting with military leaders at the Zarzuela Palace.
Armada immediately tried to take advantage of his influence over the king to be appointed as Suarez's replacement.
When that failed, Armada pushed ahead with preparations for the coup with Tejero and Milans del Bosch.
Armada received a pardon in 1988 while Milans del Bosch was released in 1990 and Tejero in 1996.