Other notable deaths

Other notable deaths

May 04, 2008

LEOPOLDO CALVO SOTELO, 82

Former Spanish prime minister

Former Prime Minister Leopoldo Calvo Sotelo, who presided during Spain's rocky transition from the fascist dictatorship of Gen. Francisco Franco to liberal democracy, died yesterday in Madrid. He was 82.

Mr. Calvo Sotelo, Spain's second post-Franco prime minister, governed from February 1981 to December 1982 after predecessor Adolfo Suarez stepped down.

During a vote to approve his premiership, a group of right-wing Civil Guards broke into parliament, fired shots into the ceiling and held lawmakers captive.

Spain held its breath for 17 hours as it watched its nascent democratic institutions paralyzed until, after a broadcast by King Juan Carlos condemning the attack, the perpetrators left parliament by climbing out of a window and were arrested.

After the attempted rightist coup, Parliament set a date for general elections. The Socialist candidate, Felipe Gonzalez, won - ushering in Spain's modern democracy.

"A genuine political moderate, [Mr. Calvo Sotelo] obviously held things together through the worst moments of Spain's emerging democracy," said historian Paul Preston.

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