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Thursday, June 19, 2014

Manuel Fraga Iribarne, Spanish politician, President of the Xunta of Galicia (1990–2005), founder of the People's Party, died from heart failure he was 89.

Manuel Fraga Iribarne  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 died from heart failure he was 89.. He served as the President of the Xunta of Galicia from 1990 to 2005 and as a Senator until November 2011. He was one of the few Honoris Causa Doctors of the Faculty of Law of the University of Lisbon.[1]


(Spanish pronunciation: [maˈnwel ˈfɾaɣa iɾiˈβarne]; 23 November 1922 – 15 January 2012)


Biography

Earl life

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

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").

The First Government of the Monarchy

After a brief period as Spain's ambassador in the United Kingdom, which ended with Franco's death in 1975, Manuel Fraga was appointed vice president (deputy prime minister) and interior Minister (Ministro de Gobernación) on 12 December 1975,[5] 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.[6] 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 was a known 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 on a shooting spree into a packed church into which demonstrators had retreated, resulting in five dead and over 100 wounded, from 4000 people into the church. Manuel Fraga's term as interior minister lasted short and ended on 5 July 1986.[5]

Alianza Popular

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 soon founded the People's Alliance (Alianza Popular - AP), and became its president. The party fared poorly in its first years, but after the 1982 crisis and breakup of the UCD, the moderate-conservative party which had won the first two democratic 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.

Presidency of the Xunta 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.[7] 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 the oil tanker ship Prestige sank off the Galician coast causing 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 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 remained on 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 designated as a Senator by the Galicia Parliament in 2008.

Overview

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 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.[8] His funeral was attended by Prince Felipe and Princess Letizia.[9]




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