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Gema Pérez Herrera, PhD from the School of Philosophy and Letters of the University of Navarra, Spain

A statesman and a great patriot

Thu, 07 Mar 2019 09:49:00 +0000 Published in Las Provincias

Spain is in mourning because a great man has left us. The death of José Pedro Pérez-Llorca marks the end of that generation of politicians to whom we owe the Transition, a period in the history of Spain as important and foundational as it is so often reviled or forgotten. Pérez-Llorca entered active politics in 1976 with the founding of the Partido Popular, now extinct, and left it radically in 1982, after the debacle of the UCD, after having been one of the last officials to abandon the ship. Many were the storms that ravaged those years of government of the center, inside and outside the party. There were also many challenges: the democratization of the country, the construction of a State based on the rule of law, the articulation of the new autonomous State, the international positioning of Spain, the fight against terrorism. As a member of congress, Secretary and Spokesman of the UCD Parliamentary group , speaker constitutional, Minister of Presidency, Territorial Administration and Foreign Affairs between 1977 and 1982, Pérez Llorca was above all a man loyal to the founding idea of UCD and to Spain, to that new constitutional Spain in which we should all fit. Without fissures, José Pedro was a statesman and a great patriot.

I have had the good fortune to get to know him closely over the last six years, as a result of the preparation of my doctoral thesis at the University of Navarra on his political career. My great learning and my great luck in these years has been to be able to move from the historical character to the person. His papers, his reports, his accurate reflections on the future of Spain, written with amazing clairvoyance in the seventies and eighties, reveal the public figure, to whom one day the History of Spain will do justice, but my numerous conversations with him brought me closer to the person, beyond the portrait provided by the documentation. I also had the opportunity to consult his file staff , which he himself donated to the University of Navarra and which is kept at file General of the academic center.

"When I look at those slips of paper, I get sad", was one of his first phrases when referring to his file and that caught my attention. He looked at the past with a kind of nostalgia and pain, nostalgia for those years of great illusions and great projects for Spain. And pain, pain for seeing the drift that things had taken, for seeing the betrayals of a certain nationalism and of those who only understand the use of power for the short term deadline and with party interests.

In those years he also knew very closely the ambition for power and betrayals, and this led him more and more to want to stay away from politics. He did not want to be Suarez's successor, even though the latter proposed it to him on several occasions, aware of the value of one of his best men. But Pérez-Llorca refused, he simply wanted to serve Spain from where he knew and could, giving the best of his legal knowledge and his exceptional intelligence to try to articulate the new rule of law that is the new Spanish State. A State that some now seem to be trying to destroy.

After "being abandoned by politics" he dedicated himself to law. He was a tireless worker until the end of his days. I will never forget that during my years at thesis he always had time to answer my questions and tell me so generously about his many memories. The "silver fox" of politics was an incredibly humble and approachable man, who never spoke ill of me about any of his colleagues of yesteryear, who never intruded on my work or the possible image I would give of him. A man who made us laugh with his sharp comments full of sense of humor, a humor so Andalusian that neither politics nor the madriles had managed to eradicate. He was also a family man, who from the very first day spoke to us about the important role of his wife in his life: "She has influenced and changed me more than anyone else in the world". At final a statesman and a man of his house. A great Spaniard. Every time he said goodbye to me, at the foot of the grand staircase of his office at Castellana 50, he did so with a "May God keep you". Today, with infinite sorrow and still with the disbelief and shock of the news, I can only say "May God keep you José Pedro" and may He now reward you for those efforts for our Spain, for which you have done so much, and for which we hope you will continue to watch over from Heaven.