By Euro Weekly News Media • 24 March 2014 • 8:58
The man who led the Spanish nation to democracy following the death of fascist dictator Francisco Franco died on Sunday at the age of 81.
Following the death of General Franco, after almost four decades of dictatorship, King Juan Carlos named Adolfo Suarez as the prime minister in a new government in 1976.
Suarez was confirmed as leader of democratic Spain in a general election the following year.
He successfully steered the country through a turbulent transitional period, overcoming deep rifts within society left over from the 1936-1939 Civil War.
He was responsible for helping to heal many of the Civil War wounds, bringing in a number of measures including an amnesty for political offences.
Mr Suarez retired from political office in 1991 and it was revealed in 2005 that he was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.
Suarez was admitted to hospital in Madrid last week with a respiratory infection.
King Juan Carlos led the tributes describing Mr Suarez as a “loyal friend and exceptional partner”.
The King said: “My gratitude to the Duke of Suarez is deep and permanent and my pain today is great,” said the 76 year-old monarch.
“Overcoming the political and social fracture that Spain’s society experienced in the 20th century was his top priority, as it was mine.
“He knew that the welfare and better future for all called for consensus, understanding how to cede on minor issues if necessary to achieve agreement on what mattered most.”
Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has declared three days of national mourning. Suarez will receive a state funeral.
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