Tejerazo, El

Tejerazo, El
   The popular name given to the attempted military coup staged by the army and the Civil Guard on 23 February, 1981 (also known as 23-F), El Tejerazo takes its name from Antonio Tejero Molina, a Civil Guard colonel who led the storming of the parliament building while the Congress of Deputies was in session. The coup was the culmination of a long process of military conspiracy which had begun shortly after the beginning of the transition to democracy in 1975. The traditionally right-wing armed forces were suspicious of democracy in general, and disturbed by what they perceived as the government's incapacity to control terrorism.
   The object of the coup was to force King Juan Carlos I to annul the constitution of 1978, suspend the Cortes, and rule with a military council. Many senior officers expected the King to collaborate with the movement, but the King telephoned the Captains-General of all the military regions, reminding them of their oath to the constitution and their obedience to him as Commander-in-Chief of all the armed forces. The King also appeared on nationwide television on the night of 23–4 February in the uniform of Commander-in-Chief, declaring his support for constitutionalism, and the conspirators soon found themselves isolated. Those most deeply involved were tried by court martial, but received relatively light sentences, increased after an appeal by the state prosecutor. Generals Alfonso Armada and Jaime Milans del Bosch, and Colonel Tejero received sentences of 30 years each, but Armada and Milans were released, in 1988 and 1992 respectively, on grounds of age and good conduct. The failure of the attempted coup led to an upsurge of renewed popular support for democracy, and helped to overcome the sense of disillusionment with the state which had set in around 1979, caused by continuing economic problems and terrorism. The other effect of the coup was that it encouraged the government of Leopoldo Calvo Sotelo to speed up the negotiations for Spain's entry into NATO, a process which eventually produced increased professionalism and depoliticization of the armed forces.
   Further reading
   - Carr, R. and Fusi, J.P. (1979) Spain: Dictatorship to Democracy, London: Allen & Unwin (a thorough and scholarly account of the transition to democracy).
   - Newton, M.T. with Donaghy, P.J. (1997) Institutions of Modern Spain: A Political and Economic Guide, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (a standard reference work).
   - Preston, P (1986) The Triumph of Democracy in Spain, London: Methuen (a lively account of the issues and personalities involved in the political developments of contemporary Spain).
   EAMONN RODGERS

Encyclopedia of contemporary Spanish culture. 2013.

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