King and Zapatero lead tributes to former PM Calvo-Sotelo

5th May 2008, Comments 0 comments

Three days of mourning announced in wake of death of 82-year-old politician.

5 May 2008

MADRID - Spain on Sunday paid tribute to former Prime Minister Leopoldo Calvo-Sotelo, a key figure in the transition to democracy, who died at the age of 82.

All of the country's top authorities, led by King Juan Carlos and Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, made their way to Congress, where the body was carried in through the main doors, a ceremony that is restricted to certain solemn occasions. The government has decreed three days of mourning and a state funeral is planned for next Thursday.

Hundreds of politicians and thousands of members of the public also stopped by to pay their last respects to the first head of government to die during Spain's 30-year democracy.

Calvo-Sotelo died on Saturday in his Madrid home.

"I will never forget his commitment to Spain for so many years, his invaluable contribution to our transition process, his efforts to give Spain the place it deserved in the world, and his proven and permanent loyalty to the Crown," said the king.

"This is a day for democracy to cry over someone who worked hard to give us a free country in which to live," added Zapatero.

The wake was also attended by former Prime Minister José María Aznar, whom Calvo-Sotelo publicly supported when his own party, UCD, was dissolved in the early 1980s.

Calvo-Sotelo will be remembered as having the shortest tenure of any prime minister in democracy, from 1981 to 1982, and also for the failed military coup of February 23, 1981 that interrupted his appointment as head of government.

[El Pais / ANP / Expatica]

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