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El País

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Its reputation as a bastion of Spanish democracy was established during the attempted coup d'état by Lieutenant Colonel Antonio Tejero of the Guardia Civil on 23 February 1981. During the uncertain situation of the night of 23 February 1981, with all the members of parliament held hostage in the Congress building and with tanks on the streets of Valencia, and before the state television station could transmit a speech by King Juan Carlos I condemning the coup, El País published a special edition of the newspaper called 'El País, for the Constitution'. It was the first daily paper on the streets that night with a clear pro-democracy position calling on citizens to demonstrate in favour of democracy. It was widely discussed in the news media that the then director of El País, Juan Luis Cebrián, telephoned the then director of Diario 16, Pedro J. Ramírez, in order to propose that both newspapers work on a joint publication in defence of democracy and Ramírez refused, claiming that he would prefer to wait a few hours to see how the situation developed. Diario 16 was not published until after a television broadcast by the king. Along with its commitment to democracy before the attempted coup of 23 February 1981, the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party's election victory in 1982 with an absolute majority and its open support for the government of Felipe González, meant that El País consolidated its position during the 1980s as the Spanish newspaper with the most sales ahead of the conservative leaning ABC.



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