Spain's Gonzalez reaffirms civilian authority over Army

If there were still any doubts about the role of the armed forces in Spain, Felipe Gonzalez put the issue to rest. Only parliament can control the government, the Socialist prime minister declared Tuesday.

In a two-day parliamentary debate in which Gonzalez presented a soporific state-of-the-nation address, he issued a sharp reprimand to military officers who insist on interpreting the Constitution.

''There are some people, military or civilian, who think the Constitution provides for a hypothethical situation in which it is not parliament that must control the government, but some force outside parliament,'' he stated.

The reference follows last week's sacking of one of the country's highest-ranking generals who affirmed in a published magazine interview that the armed forces could assume control of the government under certain situations.

Referring to military tension, Gonzalez added that ''the armed forces are not an autonomous military power.''

But he also sympathized with military officers, saying he hoped flag burners ''pay for their fault in jail.''

Lacking his usual charisma after nine months in power, Gonzalez justified his Socialist policies and made pleas for patience in implementing the socialist goals of change.

One veteran reporter, who had been in parliament during the coup attempt in 1981 when civil guards fired machine guns and held the entire government and Congress of Deputies captive for 18 hours, remarked wryly that it was surprising to discover how boring routine democracy can be.

of 5 stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read 5 of 5 free stories

Only $1 for your first month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.