24 Mar 2014

Death of post-Franco PM

11:35 am on 24 March 2014

Spain's first democratically elected prime minister after 35 years of dictatorship has died. Adolfo Suarez was 81.

Prime Minister Adolfo Suarez in June 1978.

Prime Minister Adolfo Suarez in June 1978. Photo: AFP (file)

Mr Suarez was handpicked by King Juan Carlos in 1976 after the death of General Francisco Franco to steer the country towards a parliamentary democracy.

A year later, he won Spain's first free elections in more than 40 years and served for four years.

A 2007 poll showed that Spaniards regarded him as the most respected prime minister since Franco's death.

"He was a great statesman," said King Juan Carlos in a TV address.

"Suarez saw with clarity and great generosity that the welfare and the future of everyone depended on consensus."

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy announced three days of official mourning, starting Monday.