Manuel Fraga

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from Manuel Fraga Iribarne)
Jump to navigation Jump to search

The Most Excellent
Manuel Fraga Iribarne
(Fraga) Felipe González recibe al presidente de Alianza Popular (cropped).jpg
4th President of the Regional Government of Galicia
In office
5 February 1990 – 2 August 2005
MonarchJuan Carlos I
Preceded byFernando González Laxe
Succeeded byEmilio Pérez Touriño
President of the People's Party
In office
20 January 1989 – 1 April 1990
Preceded byAntonio Hernández Mancha (as President of the People's Alliance)
Succeeded byJosé María Aznar
Second Deputy Prime Minister of Spain and Minister of the Interior
In office
15 December 1975 – 5 July 1976
MonarchJuan Carlos I
Preceded byJose Garcia Hernandez
Succeeded byRodolfo Martín Villa
Minister of Information and Tourism
In office
10 July 1962 – 29 October 1969
LeaderFrancisco Franco
Preceded byGabriel Arias-Salgado
Succeeded byAlfredo Sánchez Bella
Member of the Congress of Deputies
In office
15 June 1977 – 3 July 1987
Member of the Senate
In office
7 February 2006 – 27 September 2011
Personal details
Born(1922-11-23)23 November 1922
Vilalba, Galicia, Spain
Died15 January 2012(2012-01-15) (aged 89)
Madrid, Spain
Political partyPeople'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
RelationsCarmen Fraga Estévez
ResidenceMadrid, Spain
Alma materUniversity of Santiago de Compostela

Manuel Fraga Iribarne (Spanish pronunciation: [maˈnwel ˈfɾaɣa iɾiˈβaɾne]; 23 November 1922 – 15 January 2012) was a Spanish professor and politician in Francoist Spain, who was also the founder of the People's Party. Fraga was the Minister of Information and Tourism between 1962 and 1969, Ambassador to the United Kingdom between 1973 and 1975, Minister of the Interior in 1975, Deputy Prime Minister between 1975 and 1976, President of the People's Alliance/People's Party between 1979 and 1990 and President of the Regional Government of Galicia between 1990 and 2005. He has also been both a Deputy in the Congress and a Senator.

Fraga's career as one of the key political figures in Spain straddles both General Francisco Franco's Spanish State and the subsequent transition to representative democracy. He served as the President of the Regional Government of Galicia from 1990 to 2005 and as a Senator until November 2011.[1] Fraga is also one of the Fathers of the Constitution.


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 reign.

Political career[edit]

Francoist Spain[edit]

Fraga started in the Franco cabinet in 1962 as Minister of Information and tourism. Fraga authorized the execution of political prisoners under the Francoist State. A notable case is the execution of communist leader Julián Grimau, whom he called "that little gentleman" (Spanish: ese caballerete) in a press conference when asked about his detention and death sentence. His death sentence caused a large controversy outside of Spain. Grimau was executed by firing squad in 1963. Fraga never publicly apologized or expressed regret for Grimau's execution.

Another notable case was the assassination by Spanish police of Enrique Ruano, a student activist who opposed the Francoist State. Fraga telephoned Ruano's father and threatened to arrest his other daughter, Margot, who was also an anti-Francoist, unless she immediately stopped her activism. The then-director of Spanish newspaper ABC, Torcuato Luca de Tena, later confessed that Fraga ordered him to publish a manipulated copy of Ruano's personal diary in order to present Ruano as a mentally unstable person who killed himself.[2]

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.[3]

Fraga also established himself as one of the more prominent members of a reformist faction in the government who favoured opening up the State 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[4][5] ("With Fraga [you can see] even the panties"). His depart from the government was prompted by the MATESA affair: the debt of the important publisher Manuel Salvat Dalmau was tangled with members of the Opus Dei, faction which Fraga opposed, and then he released the news. The caudillo Franco expelled both sectors.

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,[6] under Carlos Arias Navarro, a post he held until 5 July 1976.[6][7] This was the first government with Juan Carlos I as chief of state.

Although Fraga was known to favor liberalising the State 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!" ("Streets are mine!") was attributed to him[8] as his answer to complaints of police repression of street protests: he claimed that the streets did not belong to the "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 in Vitoria (Euskadi) 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.[6]

Alianza Popular[edit]

Fraga was one of the writers of the new Spanish constitution approved in 1978. Along with other former reformist members of the Francoist State, 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, became a chief of his security team. Because of the outcry by Argentinean Justice, Rodolfo Eduardo Almirón Sena was arrested in 2006 in a subsidized apartment in Torrent (Valencia) and abandon his career at People's Party.[9]

Partido Popular[edit]

Manuel Fraga (Third from left) on a convention on climate change of the European People's Party in Madrid (2008).

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 Regional Government of Galicia[edit]

Manuel Fraga returned to his Galician homeland in 1989, winning that year's regional presidential election as head of the People's Party in Galicia (PPdeG), which had won a one-seat majority in the election.[10] 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 Socialists' 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.


Statue of Fraga in Cambados, Spain.

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 Francoist State. However he had openly admitted admiration for General Franco and the Francoist State 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[citation needed]. He built great roads and motorways and in 2000, he approved the Galician Plan to build Spain's first high speed bullet train.

To his opponents he always was a dinosaur from the Franco regime.[11] He was a keen follower of Carl Schmitt's ideas,[12] and granted the German political theorist honorary membership to the Institute of Political Studies in 1962,[13] in a ceremony where he praised him as a "revered master".[14] Fraga identified himself with the figure of Antonio Cánovas del Castillo in 1976 for the first time; this idea of identification between Cánovas and Fraga was reinforced by historiographical trends close to Fraga in the 1980s in order to commend his figure.[15] Despite their political differences, he developed a close friendship with Fidel Castro,[16] himself of Galician descent, who met with Fraga in Galicia during a visit to Spain in 1992.[17]


Fraga died on 15 January 2012 of a respiratory disease.[18] His funeral was attended by Prince Felipe and Princess Letizia.[19]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Politics: Obituaries The Telegraph. Retrieved 25 May 2013.
  2. ^ "No se tiró, lo mataron" (in Spanish). El País. 18 January 2009. Retrieved 29 December 2016.
  3. ^ 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.
  4. ^ Note to Estudios sobre Buero Vallejo, ed. Mariano de Paco, Alicante : Biblioteca Virtual Miguel de Cervantes, 2000.
  5. ^ Jaime Campmany attributes the doggerel to César González-Ruano. La falda de Marilyn, ABC, 31 August 2002.
  6. ^ a b c "Spanish Ministries". Rulers. Retrieved 28 April 2013.
  7. ^ 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)
  8. ^ (in Spanish) 25 January 2006 "¡La calle es mía!" El Pais Retrieved 13 April 2009
  9. ^ (in Spanish) "Detienen en Valencia al ex dirigente de la Triple A Argentina Almirón Sena" (Ex director of Triple A in Argentina, Almirón Sena, arrested in a subsidized apartment in Valencia", El Mundo, 28 December 2006
  10. ^ 1989 Galician election
  11. ^ Anderle, Ádám (2008). "De la dictadura a la democracia: Manuel Fraga Iribarne" (PDF). Acta Hispanica. Szeged. XIII: 7. ISSN 1416-7263.
  12. ^ Freire, Jorge (16 May 2017). "Schmitt en España". Letras Libres.
  13. ^ Calvo Albero, José Luis (2002). "Carl Schmitt. La paz del estado vigilante". Cuadernos de estrategia (115): 61. ISSN 1697-6924.
  14. ^ Rivas, Manuel (2 April 2006). "La 'fiesta sagrada' de don Carlos". El País.
  15. ^ Sánchez-Prieto, Juan María; Zafra, Guillermo (2016). "The Fear of a 'Change out of Control': Fraga's Failed Turn during the Spanish Transition". Revista de Estudios Políticos. Madrid: Centro de Estudios Políticos y Constitucionales (174): 315 & 327. ISSN 0048-7694.
  16. ^ Moncada Esquivel, Ricardo (18 May 2014). "Manuel Fraga: el amigo capitalista de Fidel Castro". El País.
  17. ^ Ojeda Revah, Mario (2012). "Cuba y la Unión Europea. Una perspectiva histórica" (PDF). Latinoamérica. Revista de estudios Latinoamericanos (54): 17. ISSN 1665-8574.
  18. ^ Spain Franco-era politician Fraga dies, aged 89 BBC
  19. ^ Spain’s Crown Prince, PM Attend Funeral Mass for Manuel Fraga Herald Tribune

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Gabriel Arias-Salgado
Minister of Information and Tourism
Succeeded by
Alfredo Sánchez Bella
Preceded by
Rafael Cabello de Alba
Second Deputy Prime Minister of Spain
Succeeded by
Alfonso Ossorio
Preceded by
Jose Garcia Hernandez
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
Secretary-General of People's Alliance
Succeeded by
Jorge Verstrynge
Preceded by
Office created
Chairman of the Popular Group in the Congress of Deputies
Succeeded by
Miguel Herrero y Rodríguez de Miñón
Preceded by
Félix Pastor Ridruejo
President of People's Alliance
Succeeded by
Antonio Hernandez Mancha
Preceded by
Antonio Hernández Mancha
(As President of People's Alliance)
President of the People's Party
Succeeded by
Jose Maria Aznar
Preceded by
Xerardo Fernández Albor
President of the People's Party of Galicia
Succeeded by
Alberto Núñez Feijoo