#AdiósAdolfoSuárez: A small tribute to the man that could promise, and promised.
(Un pequeño homenaje al hombre que pudo prometer, y prometió.)
When we think about the Spanish Transition, terms such as consensus, pact, dialogue, democracy, rapidly appear in our memory, as well as the names of two men: Juan Carlos and Adolfo Suárez. Two elected men, not by the people, but elected (what a paradox, don´t you think?): the first one by Francisco Franco, and the second by his majesty the King, to accompany Spain towards democracy. It was not an easy task, because it was not easy to assure anything, between the happiness of many, and the tears of others, the dictatorship died and democracy was conceived. Our democracy was conceived by men and women, and Adolfo Suárez is without any doubt one of its recognized fathers. He led the Transition, without any valid models or references, as he himself highlighted it: “we were our own precedent”.
Well yes, Adolfo Suárez, the advocate of dialogue and consensus, revolutionized Spain´s History without revolutions. At the age of 43 and after 9 years in politics, this unknown technocrat, with little support from the elite of the time, achieved in only two years and a half to walk Spain from a dictatorial State to a constitutional democracy. He did it with a surprising integrity for those who still resisted accepting the waves of change in Spain by confronting the destabilizing canon shots of the extreme right and terrorism. He achieved his goals: he was able to elect a Parliament by universal suffrage for the first time since 1936, to draft the Constitution which was adopted by referendum, and to set the foundation for a democracy rooted in values of dialogue, understanding and harmony, in which the voice of all could be heard and listened to.
Those who today pay a tribute to Adolfo are those who once led to his withdrawal from what was already becoming a Roman circus. The defensive rise of Felipe González, the revival of Suarez´s past in the National Movement, joined with the UCD´s internal divisions, weakened him. The Spaniard´s disappointment and discomfort in 1980, together with civil-military conspiracies, carried Adolfo to humbly resign from the presidency of the Government.
The political animal and courageous democrat remained. On February 23, Suárez attended the investiture of his successor Leopoldo Calvo-Sotelo, when a Lieutenant Colonel of the Guardia Civil, a certain Antonio Tejero, attempted against the rule of law, the one that was costing so much to build, penetrating the democratic body with weapons. All deputies fell to the ground, all but three: Gutiérrez Mellado, Santiago Carrillo and Suárez.
Perhaps it was his political and personal generosity, which characterized him until the last moments of his life, leading him to express himself in this way when receiving the last visit of his confessor: “I’m always ready to give and to receive forgiveness “; perhaps it was his courage and vision of public affairs; perhaps his unwavering loyalty to the King and Spain; or perhaps the humility of a Christian, who combined his spiritual integrity with the great duties of a democracy thirsty for freedoms; perhaps, perhaps, perhaps. What is certain for me is that Suárez is one of the few Spanish men and politicians who inspire me.
His death has filled the Spanish society, which is going through a context of widespread political tension, complaints and alleged marches for dignity, with the nostalgia of a glorious past, in which prevailed the values of integrity, dialogue and consensus. Politicians and citizens must now go through the exercise of rethinking their duties and citizenship respectively, in our democracy, and avoid the temptation of threatening its principles which were championed by its founders, precisely the power of the word, integrity and courage against violence.
Neither the three days of official mourning, nor the more than 30,000 condolences and tributes that visited the funeral chapel, nor the almost unconditional recognition from the whole political spectrum, seems to me as sufficient to pay a rightful tribute to the courage, vision and faith of this statesman.
Demonstrations of affection are appreciated, but must go beyond political correctness. The real tribute is to change this circus in which the law of the jungle prevails. The real tribute is that each Spaniard makes an exercise of introspection, and applies the same level of requirement to others and to himself. Precisely today, when Spain is going through hard times we should remember the journey, not sublimating it, and look forward to the road that lies ahead. Neither the crisis nor the hardships or difficulties can make us forget that we owe ourselves to Spain, to a democratic Spain. It’s time to remember that citizens and politicians must keep working together for a society in which pluralism is respected and where the legality of the institutions is truly consolidated. I want to believe that with his death, Adolfo wanted to fill us with a message: the return to the spirit of the Transition, a spirit of harmony and of the construction a common project. A moment from which many good things blossomed, despite the fact that is was neither obvious nor easy to promise anything, as today it is not either.
Let’s give thanks and dedicate him a fairer, a more democratic, a better Spain. We need a reformer and visionary now! Lets be inspired by Adolfo, his moderation and humility as a man, a citizen, a politician and a Spaniard, but also by his weaknesses, in order to demand more from our politicians as citizens, but without forgetting that as citizens, we are called to aspire to be a little more like Suárez.
SILVIA GONZALEZ MARROQUIN is a Law student at Sciences Po Paris. She was raised between the US, France and Spain. She’s currently studying Law at IE University in Madrid.