For most of the Franco regime, the National Movement was the only political party allowed to operate legally. Suárez was appointed interim president by King Juan Carlos I following Franco's 1975 death. Leftist and centrist politicians opposed Suárez's appointment, based on his close ties to the Franco regime. Nevertheless, Suárez proved to be a true reformer, spearheading political changes in 1976. He was also able to reform the military and return it to civilian control. These actions helped him form a more centrist party for the upcoming 1977 elections.
In 1977, during the first elections held after Franco's death, Suárez led the Unión de Centro Democrático (UCD, Democratic Center Union) to a majority in the parliament and was appointed premier. His government continued to institute democratic reforms, relying on a coalition of centrist politicians. One of the biggest reforms was the implementation of a new constitution in 1979. In the 1979 elections, Suárez and the UCD were again victorious. Government became increasingly problematic, however, with an economic downturn and an increase in regionalist agitation. Suárez resigned in 1981 and subsequently dropped out of the UCD. In 1982 he formed the Centro Democrático y Social (CDS, Democratic and Social Center), which enjoyed only moderate success. In 1991 Suárez announced his retirement from public life. In May 2005 his son announced that his father was suffering from advanced Alzheimer's disease and that he recalled little of his time in government.
David H. Richards
Abella, Carlos. Adolfo Suárez. Madrid, Spain: Espasa, 1997.; Salvad, Francisco J. Romero. Twentieth-Century Spain: Politics and Society in Spain, 1898–1998. New York: St. Martin's, 1999.; Threlfall, Monica, ed. Consensus Politics in Spain: Insider Perspectives. London: Intellect, 2000.