Manuel Fraga Iribarne

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This name uses Spanish naming customs: the first or paternal family name is Fraga and the second or maternal family name is Iribarne.
Manuel Fraga
Fraga later80s.png
Manuel Fraga in 1989
Designated Spanish Senator
for Galicia
In office
25 March 2008 – 15 January 2012
Preceded by Corina Porro
3rd President of the Xunta of Galicia
In office
5 February 1990 – 2 August 2005
Monarch Juan Carlos I
Preceded by Fernando González Laxe
Succeeded by Emilio Pérez Touriño
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior
In office
15 December 1975 – 5 July 1976
Monarch Juan Carlos I
Preceded by Jose Garcia Hernandez
Succeeded by Rodolfo Martín Villa
Minister of Information and Tourism
In office
10 July 1962 – 29 October 1969
Leader Francisco Franco
Preceded by Gabriel Arias-Salgado
Succeeded by Alfredo Sánchez Bella
Leader of the Partido Popular
In office
Preceded by Office created
Succeeded by José María Aznar
Personal details
Born Manuel Fraga Iribarne
(1922-11-23)23 November 1922
Vilalba, Galicia, Spain
Died 15 January 2012(2012-01-15) (aged 89)
Madrid, Spain
Nationality Spanish
Political party People's Party (1989–2012)
People's Alliance (1977–1989)
FET y de las JONS (1962–1977)
Other political
People's Alliance
Democratic Reform
Spouse(s) Carmen Estévez Eguiagaray
Relations Carmen Fraga Estévez
Children 5
Residence Madrid, Spain
Alma mater University of Santiago de Compostela
Religion Roman Catholicism

Manuel Fraga Iribarne (Spanish pronunciation: [maˈnwel ˈfɾaɣa iɾiˈβarne]; 23 November 1922 – 15 January 2012) was a Spanish People's Party politician. Fraga's career as one of the key political figures in Spain straddles both General Francisco Franco's dictatorial regime and the subsequent transition to representative democracy. He served as the President of the Xunta of Galicia from 1990 to 2005 and as a Senator until November 2011.[1]


Early life[edit]

Fraga was born in Vilalba, Lugo Province, Galicia. Trained in law, economics and political science, he began his political career in 1945, during Francisco Franco's dictatorship.

Political career[edit]

Between 1962 and 1969 he served as Minister for Information and Tourism, and played a major role in the revitalization of Spanish tourist industry, leading a campaign under the slogan Spain is different!. On 8 March 1966, he attempted to dispel fears of a nuclear accident after the Palomares hydrogen bombs incident by swimming in the contaminated water with the American ambassador, Angier Biddle Duke.[2]

Fraga established himself as one of the more prominent members of a reformist faction in the government who favoured opening up the regime from above. He introduced an a posteriori censorship law, which was based on lifting pre-publication censorship and a reduction in its strictness. Additionally, a certain sexual liberality in films was popularly summarized in the expression Con Fraga hasta la braga[3][4] ("With Fraga [you can see] even the panties").

First government of the monarchy[edit]

After a brief period as Spain's ambassador in the United Kingdom, which ended with Franco's death in 1975, Fraga was appointed vice president of the government (deputy prime minister) and Interior Minister (Ministro de Gobernación) on 12 December 1975,[5] under Carlos Arias Navarro, a post he held until 5 July 1976.[5][6] This was the first government with Juan Carlos I as chief of state.

Although Fraga was known to favor liberalising the regime from above, he himself favoured an extremely gradual transition to full democracy. The drastic measures he took as interior minister and head of state security during the first days of the Spanish transition to democracy gave him a reputation for heavy-handedness, and deeply damaged his popularity. The phrase "¡La calle es mía!" ("The streets are mine!") was attributed to him[7] as his answer to complaints of police repression of street protests. He claimed that the streets did not belong to "people" but to the state. He was known to be an admirer of Cánovas del Castillo. During a clash at the Church of St. Francis of Assisi between police and striking workers, on Fraga's orders the police stormed into a packed church into which 4,000 demonstrators had retreated and went on a shooting spree, resulting in five dead and over 100 wounded.[5]

Alianza Popular[edit]

Fraga was one of the writers of the new Spanish constitution approved in 1978. Along with other former reformist members of Franco's regime, he founded the People's Alliance (Alianza Popular – AP), and became its president. Although he tried to brand the party as a mainstream conservative party, the people did not trust him due to large number of former Francoists in the party, combined with his performance as interior minister. The party fared poorly in its first years, but after the 1982 crisis and the collapse of the UCD, the centrist party that had won the first two democratic elections, AP became the second party in Spain.

Fraga was reckoned as the Leader of the Opposition to the Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) government. The PSOE enjoyed great popularity and an absolute majority winning streak in the 1982 and 1986 elections, in part because Fraga and the AP were generally viewed as too reactionary to be an alternative. Following this critical development, Fraga resigned the presidency of the party in 1986. He suffered a scandal in 1983, when it was reported that Rodolfo Almirón, a former Argentine national police officer implicated in Triple A, a right-wing death squad in Argentina, was part of his security team. Because of the outcry, Fraga dismissed Almirón.[8]

Partido Popular[edit]

With the AP in headlong decline, Fraga resumed the leadership of the party in 1989. With the addition of several lesser Christian democratic parties and the remnants of the Democratic Center Union, he refounded the People's Alliance as the People's Party (Partido Popular – PP). Later in the same year, Fraga encouraged the election of José María Aznar as the party's new president. Fraga was then appointed as honorary president of the PP.

Presidency of the Xunta of Galicia[edit]

Manuel Fraga returned to his Galician homeland in 1989, winning that year's presidential election as head of the People's Party in Galicia (PPdeG), which had won a one-seat majority in the election.[9] He remained in charge for almost 15 years until 2005, when the PPdeG lost its overall majority.

Fraga saw his credibility damaged in late 2002, when the oil tanker ship Prestige sank off the Galician coast. It caused a massive oil spill that affected the shoreline in the northwest of the region. Fraga was said to have been slow to react and unable, or unwilling, to handle the situation. In 2004, a power struggle between factions of PPdeG further hurt the party's image.

Subsequently, in the autonomous elections of 2005, Fraga and the PPdeG lost their absolute majority in the Parliament of Galicia. Despite their obtaining a 45% plurality in the elections, a left-government coalition developed between the Socialist Party of Galicia (PSdeG) and the Galician Nationalist Bloc, making socialist Emilio Pérez Touriño the new president. Fraga remained on the political scene from Galicia, as a member of the Senate representing the Parliament of Galicia. Alberto Núñez Feijóo, a member of the Galician Popular Party, has been the PPdG head since late 2005.

Fraga was designated as a Senator by the Galicia Parliament in 2008.


Fraga was one of the writers of the democratic constitution and spent part of his political career lessening the censorship law during the latter years of the Franco dictatorship. However he had openly admitted admiration for General Franco and the regime in public on several different occasions. He was renowned for his temper tantrums in public at not being referred to or addressed as Don Manuel. He most famously shouted during a television interview, completely unaware the camera was filming and the show was being broadcast live on air. Manuel Fraga Iribarne was probably one of the most important and yet controversial politicians in modern Spain.

To his supporters, Fraga was a Galician hero who throughout his rule, modernised Galicia and built up a fair level of tourism to the region. He built great roads and motorways and in 2000, he approved the Galician Plan to build Spain's first high speed bullet train. However to his opponents he was an authoritarian relic of the Franco era who failed to lift Galicia and its people out of poverty and unemployment.

Despite their political differences, he maintained a friendship with Fidel Castro, himself of Galician descent, who visited him in Galicia in 1992.


Fraga died on 15 January 2012 of a respiratory disease.[10] His funeral was attended by Prince Felipe and Princess Letizia.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Politics: Obituaries The Telegraph. Retrieved 25 May 2013.
  2. ^ Paul Geitner, "Spanish Town Struggles to Forget Its Moment on the Brink of a Nuclear Cataclysm", The New York Times, 12 September 2008, page A13.
  3. ^ Note to Estudios sobre Buero Vallejo, ed. Mariano de Paco, Alicante : Biblioteca Virtual Miguel de Cervantes, 2000.
  4. ^ Jaime Campmany attributes the doggerel to César González-Ruano. La falda de Marilyn, ABC, 31 August 2002.
  5. ^ a b c "Spanish Ministries". Rulers. Retrieved 28 April 2013. 
  6. ^ José María Maravall; Adam Przeworski (2003). Democracy and the Rule of Law. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press. p. 287. Retrieved 20 December 2013.  – via Questia (subscription required)
  7. ^ (Spanish) 25 January 2006 "¡La calle es mía!" El Pais Retrieved 13 April 2009
  8. ^ "Detienen en Valencia al ex dirigente de la Triple A Argentina Almirón Sena" (Ex director of Triple A in Argentina, Almirón Sena, arrested in Valencia", El Mundo, 28 December 2006 (Spanish)
  9. ^ 1989 Galician election
  10. ^ Spain Franco-era politician Fraga dies, aged 89 BBC
  11. ^ Spain’s Crown Prince, PM Attend Funeral Mass for Manuel Fraga Herald Tribune

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Gabriel Arias-Salgado
Spanish Minister of Information and Tourism
Succeeded by
Alfredo Sánchez Bella
Preceded by
Jose Garcia Hernandez
Spanish Minister of the Interior
Succeeded by
Rodolfo Martín Villa
Preceded by
Fernando Ignacio González Laxe
President of Galicia
Succeeded by
Emilio Perez Touriño
Party political offices
Preceded by
Party Founder
Chairman of the Popular Alliance
Succeeded by
Antonio Hernandez Mancha
Preceded by
Antonio Hernandez Mancha
Chairman of the Popular Party (Spain)
Succeeded by
Jose Maria Aznar
Spanish Congress of Deputies
Preceded by
Title jointly held
Deputy for Madrid province
Succeeded by
Title jointly held