Unión de Centro Democrático, UCD

Leopoldo Calvo Sotelo


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Spanish politician (Madrid, 1926-2008). Hailing from the world of business, he started his political career as a Member of Parliament for the trade unions and collaborator on the Development Plans. He became Minister for Trade (1975-1976) under the government of C. Arias Navarro, and participated in setting up the Union for the Democratic Centre (Spanish acronym: UCD). He subsequently became the UCD campaign organiser for the elections in 1977. He went on to become the Parliamentary Spokesperson for this political party for some time. A member of the government of Adolfo Suárez, he held the posts of Minister for Public Works (1976-1977), Minister for Relations with the European Economic Community (1978-1980) and Second Vice-President of the Government for Economic Affairs (1980-1981).

Following the resignation of Adolfo Suárez, he became President of the Government (March 1981-October 1982). During his investiture (23 February 1981), a coup d'état unfolded when a group of Guardias Civiles burst into Parliament led by Antonio Tejero.

The most characteristic features of his government were Spain's membership of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the Constitutional Law to Harmonise the Regional Process (Spanish acronym: LOAPA), approved with the support of the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (Spanish acronym: PSOE). The Divorce Act heralded the beginning of the end for the UCD, resulting in the first case of parliamentary indiscipline. This, combined with a serious economic crisis, resulted in the dissolution of Parliament and early elections were called.

The victory by the PSOE not only removed the UCD from power and him as President of the Government, but also resulted in the virtual disappearance of the UCD. In 1982, he resigned as president of the political party, although he regained his parliamentary seat in 1983. Upon Spain's membership of the European Economic Community, he became a Member of the European Parliament (1986-1987). In 2002, the King bestowed the title of Marques of Ría de Ribadeo as a Grandee of Spain.

Leopoldo Calvo Sotelo died on 3 May 2008, aged 82.

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