The name of Antonio Tejero Molina, a former lieutenant colonel in Spain's Guardia Civil may not trip off the lips of those stirred by the Cowen affair to coalesce to oppose or at least undermine the Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin. They should acquaint themselves with his, and one of their own predecessor's, story.
After Franco's death in 1975, Spain struggled to be a modern democracy. Tejero opposed liberalisation, and he led a failed coup d'état in February, 1981. He entered Spain's lower house, with 150 police officers, and held the parliamentarians hostage. When it was clear that the army would not support the putsch, King Juan Carlos denounced it. The following day, the rebellion's leaders surrendered. Tejero spent 15 years in jail and later created the Spanish Solidarity party. This group was resoundingly rejected by Spain's 1982 election — just as Kevin Boland's Aontacht Éireann had been a decade earlier. That Boland was a Fianna Fáil malcontent who believed the party had abandoned its roots adds even more relevance to the Tejero comparison.
By 1981, Spain had moved on and recognised how profoundly the world had changed. Deeply scarred by their own civil war, maybe even more so than ours, the old attitudes, the old expectations, and structures had been rejected. Tejero's sad, pathetic attempt to wind the clock back and reinstate a discredited ancien régime was on the wrong side of history.