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Manuel Fraga

Manuel Fraga at an event in Madrid in 2007

Senator for the Autonomous Community of Galicia
Assumed office 
25 March, 2008

In office
5 February, 1990 – 2 August, 2005
Preceded by Fernando González Laxe
Succeeded by Emilio Pérez Touriño

Spanish Minister of the Interior
In office
1975 – 1976
Leader Juan Carlos I
Preceded by José García Hernández
Succeeded by Rodolfo Martín Villa

Spanish Minister of Information and Tourism
In office
1962 – 1969
Leader Francisco Franco
Preceded by Gabriel Arias-Salgado
Succeeded by Alfredo Sánchez Bella

Born November 23, 1922 (1922-11-23) (age 87)
Vilalba, Lugo, Spain
Political party Partido Popular
Spouse(s) Carmen Estévez
Residence Madrid, Spain
Alma mater University of Santiago de Compostela
Religion Roman Catholic

Manuel Fraga e Iribarne (born November 23, 1922) is a Spanish politician from the northwest region of Galicia. Fraga's career as one of the key political figures in Spain straddles both General Francisco Franco's dictatorial regime and the subsequent democracy. He was the President of Galicia from 1990 to 2005 and is currently a Senator. He is one of the few Honoris Causa Doctors of the Faculty of Law of the University of Lisbon.


Under Franco's dictatorship

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 authoritarian dictatorship.

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 March 8, 1966 he dispelled fears of a nuclear accident after the Palomares hydrogen bombs incident by swimming in the contaminated water with the American ambassador, Angier Biddle Duke.[1] He also introduced an a posteriori censorship law, which was based on lifting pre-publication censorship and a reduction in its strictness.

A certain sexual liberality in films was popularly summarized in the expression Con Fraga hasta la braga[2][3] ("With Fraga [you can see] even the panties").

Former leader of the Argentine Triple A death squad Rodolfo Almirón became his chief of personal security after his exile to Spain in 1975. Almirón, who was present during the 1976 Montejurra massacre, was dismissed by Manuel Fraga in 1983 after it became known, because of public indignation.[4]

The First Government of the Monarchy

After a brief period as Spain's ambassador in the United Kingdom, which ended with Franco's death (1975), Manuel Fraga was appointed vice president and Interior Minister (Ministro de Gobernación) in 1976, under Carlos Arias Navarro's government, the first with Juan Carlos I as chief of state. Until that moment, Fraga was known as a heavy-handed politician, though also seen as one of the reformers seeking a liberalisation from within the regime, but the drastic measures he took as chief of state security during the first days of the Spanish transition to democracy deeply damaged his popularity. The phrase "¡La calle es mía!" ("The streets are mine!") was attributed to him.[5] This phrase was 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 is a known admirer of Canovas del Castillo.

Alianza Popular

Fraga was one of the writers of the new Spanish constitution approved in 1978. Along with other former members of Franco's regime, he soon founded a right-wing party called People's Alliance (Alianza Popular - AP), led by Fraga himself as its president. The party was ignored in its first years, but after the 1982 crisis and breakup of the Democratic Center Union, the moderate-conservative party which had won the first two democratic presidential elections, AP became the second party in Spain, and Fraga was considered Leader of the Opposition to the Socialist government. Nevertheless, the Spanish Socialist Workers Party was enjoying great popularity and an absolute majority winning streak (in the 1982, 1986, and 1989 elections), as AP and its president were generally viewed as too reactionary to be an alternative. Following this critical development, Fraga resigned the presidency of the party in 1986.

Partido Popular

Fraga came back in charge in 1989, determined to stop AP's crisis. 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.

President of Galicia

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.[6] He remained in charge for almost 15 years until the PPdeG lost its overall majority in the Galician election of 2005. Fraga saw his credibility damaged in late 2002, when an oil tanker ship called Prestige sank near the Galician coast causing a massive oil spill that affected the shoreline in the northwest of the region. Fraga was said to be slow to react and unable, or even 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, and despite obtaining elections with a 45% plurality, a left government coalition between the Socialist Party of Galicia (PSdeG) and the Galician Nationalist Bloc was formed with socialist Emilio Pérez Touriño as the new president. Fraga remains in the political scene out of Galicia, as 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 again chosen as a Senator by the Parliament of Galicia in 2008.


Fraga was one of the writers of the democratic constitution and spent part of his political career lessening the censorship law during dictatorship. However he has openly admitted admiration for General Franco and the regime in public, on several different occasions. He is 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 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 maintains a friendship with Fidel Castro, himself of Galician descent.


  1. ^ Paul Geitner, "Spanish Town Struggles to Forget Its Moment on the Brink of a Nuclear Cataclysm", The New York Times, September 12, 2008, page A13.
  2. ^ Note to Estudios sobre Buero Vallejo, ed. Mariano de Paco, Alicante : Biblioteca Virtual Miguel de Cervantes, 2000.
  3. ^ Jaime Campmany attributes the doggerel to César González-Ruano. La falda de Marilyn, ABC, 31 August 2002.
  4. ^ Detienen en Valencia al ex dirigente de la Triple A argentina Almirón Sena, El Mundo, December 28, 2006 (Spanish)
  5. ^ El Pais 25 January 2006 accessed 13-04-09
  6. ^ 1989 Galician election

See also

External links

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 Martin 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
1977 – 1989
Succeeded by
Title jointly held


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