Encyclopedia of Contemporary Spanish Culture

By Eamonn Rodgers; Valerie Rodgers | Go to book overview

U

UCD

The Union of the Democratic Centre (Union de Centre Democrático) was a centre-right coalition formed under the leadership of Adolfo Suárez in 1977 to contest the general elections of June in that year, the first free elections held since 1936. It brought together Christian Democrats such as Alfonso Osorio, liberals like the Garrigues Walker brothers, and former officials of the National Movement, notably Rodolfo Martín Villa, Landelino Lavilla, Torcuato Fernández-Miranda and Suárez himself. Many of the latter group were simultaneously members of Opus Dei. There was also a small number of social democrats under the leadership of Francisco Fernández Ordóñez.

Such a cluster of disparate groups inevitably lacked a clear and coherent ideology, but UCD was nevertheless held together by the personal leadership qualities of Suárez, and, above all, by a common commitment to the gradual evolution of democratic political structures through piecemeal reform of the institutions of Francoism. This strategy was vindicated in the 1977 elections, when, in an exceptionally high turnout of around 80 percent, UCD gained 165 seats in the parliament, with 34.3 percent of the vote. This left it comfortably ahead of its nearest competitor, the socialist PSOE, which gained 118 seats, or 28.5 percent of the votes cast.

The achievements of UCD in government were considerable, and included the Moncloa Pacts with employers and trade unions, agreed in October 1977, and, most significantly, the constitution of 1978, which enshrined certain basic civil rights, and provided the legal framework for the autonomous communities which make up the quasi-federal Spanish state of today. These measures, however, owed more to pragmatism than to ideological conviction, and commitment to them, especially on the right wing of the coalition, was often half-hearted. The promise of economic restructuring contained in the Moncloa Pacts was not implemented, and this led to the resignation in February 1978 of the social democrat Vice-President for Economic Affairs, Enrique Fuentes Quintana. His departure, combined with the sacking in 1979 of Fernández Ordóñez, weaked the social democrat element in UCD and accentuated its right-wing complexion. In addition, the government’s attempts to slow down the autonomy process, in response to opposition from the armed forces, lost it support in the regions, notably in Andalusia.

The results of the 1979 general election, however, suggested that UCD had maintained, or indeed slightly improved its share of the vote, receiving 35 percent, which gave it 168 seats. Nevertheless, its position relative to PSOE (which won 29 percent and 121 seats) remained the same. The results at national level, moreover, were affected by the perception among the electorate that PSOE was still wedded to Marxist-Leninist dogma, and concealed the fact that grassroots support for UCD was declining. The party suffered serious losses in municipal and regional elections over the next three years.

To add to UCD’s difficulties, internal divisions among the various disparate elements were

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Encyclopedia of Contemporary Spanish Culture
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Introduction x
  • Acknowledgments xii
  • Structure xiii
  • Architecture xiv
  • A 1
  • Further Reading 7
  • Further Reading 11
  • Further Reading 29
  • Further Reading 37
  • Further Reading 41
  • B 44
  • Further Reading 47
  • Further Reading 65
  • C 70
  • Further Reading 81
  • Further Reading 93
  • Further Reading 100
  • Further Reading 113
  • Further Reading 128
  • D 135
  • Further Reading 136
  • Further Reading 140
  • E 152
  • Further Reading 155
  • Further Reading 166
  • Further Reading 171
  • F 173
  • Further Reading 185
  • Further Reading 206
  • G 213
  • Further Reading 227
  • Further Reading 229
  • Further Reading 231
  • Further Reading 242
  • H 245
  • I 261
  • Further Reading 266
  • J 276
  • Further Reading 280
  • K 283
  • L 285
  • Further Reading 292
  • M 313
  • Further Reading 332
  • Further Reading 335
  • N 359
  • Further Reading 362
  • Further Reading 365
  • O 376
  • P 384
  • Further Reading 429
  • Q 430
  • R 433
  • Further Reading 435
  • Further Reading 436
  • Further Reading 439
  • Further Reading 443
  • References 452
  • S 464
  • Further Reading 471
  • Further Reading 475
  • T 502
  • Further Reading 508
  • Further Reading 509
  • U 526
  • Further Reading 536
  • V 537
  • Further Reading 538
  • Further Reading 539
  • Further Reading 544
  • W 545
  • X 550
  • Y 552
  • Further Reading 553
  • Z 554
  • Index 557
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