ABSTRACT

The UCD disintegrated in 1983 following the general elections of October 1982, which empowered the PSOE to form the government with an absolute majority and made the AP the leading party of opposition. The PSOE and the AP, now called the PP, continued to occupy the same positions in parliament after the general elections of 1986 and 1989. As we shall see in Chapter 12, the PSOE lost its absolute parliamentary majority in the general elections in 1993, but it remains the dominant party in the legislature, and the PP is still the leading party of opposition. In this chapter, I will discuss the disappearance of the UCD and the accession to power and opposition of the PSOE and the AP (now PP), respectively—two parties that, in the early years of the transition, would have been considered the least likely to have achieved such eminence. At that time, the people perceived both parties to be extremist, the PSOE because of its yet unreconstructed Marxism-Leninism and the AP because of its ostensible links to Francoism. The electorate translated its fears into votes for the more centrist UCD. (It also relegated the Communist party to the periphery of Spanish politics.) As we shall see later in this chapter, first the PSOE and then the AP went through vigorous self-examination, prodded by a concern that the public’s perception of them would result in continued electoral rejection unless the two parties transformed themselves.