The new king was as determined as he was prudent in his efforts to assure Spain a rapid democratic process, transforming the institution he incarnated into a 'Monarchy for all the Spanish people'. However, it was not an easy task. It was necessary to 'respect' the legal conditions inherited from Francoism, along with a good many of his political groups.
1976: Arias Navarro, who remained in his post as head of the Government, soon showed himself incapable of guaranteeing a smooth transition, while a series of serious incidents such as Vitoria, Montejurra and pro-amnesty demonstrations were taking place throughout the country. Finally, Arias Navarro resigns office and is replaced by Adolfo Suarez (July).
The new Government proposes a bicameral Cortes and requests that workers be allowed to organize their own unions apart from the 'vertical syndicates'.
The Cortes approve the Political Reform Law, which is also ratified by a referendum.
1977: The Government repeals the articles of the Law of Associations which gave it power to refuse the legalization of any political party. Spain and the Soviet Union announce the establishment of full diplomatic relations. Ten parties are legally recognized, including the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE), the Popular Socialist Party and the Christian Democrat Party. A royal decree practically dissolves the National Movement. The Government recognizes the Communist Party (PCE). The Union of the Democratic Centre (UCD) obtains a majority in the general election (June). Three decrees which restore to a limited extent the self-government of Catalonia are signed by the King. The Government approves the provisional pre-autonomy of the Basque Country.
1978: The Spanish people approve by an 88% majority the new Constitution, which defines Spain as a Parliamentary Monarchy.
1980: The Basque Country and Catalonia legally decome autonomous regions.
1981: Suarez resigns as prime minister and is replaced by Leopoldo Calvo Sotelo. The decline of the UCD and the change of the prime ministers coincided with the death throes of the authoritarian regime to defend itself against democracy. A group of Civil Guards burst into the Congress and held the Deputies as hostages while the General-in-chief of one of the country's military regions supported the coup by ordering his troops to occupy Valencia. The decisive intervention of the King aborted the attempted coup, and the Spanish defended their democracy. This event further weakened the Government and the party in power.
1982: On October 28, new general elections were held. The PSOE obtained an absolute majority. Felipe Gonzalez is invested as Prime Minister. This event can be considered as the culmination of the transition period and it represented the definite consolidation of the democratic process.