Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Manuel Fraga Iribarne
He was born in Galicia, and his mother was a French Basque Catholic. Manuel Fraga was an excellent student of Law, and began his political career during General Franco's fascist dictatorship in Spain, being minister and ambassador in London. In Britain, he developed an admiration for the politics of the United Kingdom. As minister for Information and Tourism he relaunched the tourism industry under the slogan "Spain is different!" which was taken to have political undertones of justification for the dictatorship. The contact with foreign tourists led to economical development and political evolution towards democracy of Spaniards. In 1966 he dispelled fears by swimming at Palomares where a US aviation nuclear accident had led to a release of radioactivity and a hydrogen bomb falling into the sea. He also introduced a censorship law which, by formalising the system, had the deliberate effect of allowing greater freedom of the press. Spanish wit summarised it as "Con Fraga, hasta la braga." ("With Fraga, [you can see] till the panties.") Fraga was also minister of internal affairs. A famous quote was his "¡La calle es mía!" ("Streets are mine!") on riot control. In the last times of Francoism, Fraga situated among the reformers seeking a liberalisation from within the regime.
After Franco's death, democracy returned to Spain. Fraga formed a right-wing party called People's Alliance (Alianza Popular). The party was ignored in its first years, but gained popularity when UCD (Unión de Centro Democrático, a moderate right wing party which won the first two elections after Franco's death) disbanded and most of its members joined AP.
In 1987, the party changed its name to the People's Party (Partido Popular), and Fraga handed over the actual presidency of the PP to José María Aznar and returned to his homeland, Galicia, with the honorific title of "Founding President" of the party. Aznar's PP broke the "ceiling" of AP votes in Spain. Meanwhile, Fraga won the elections and became president of Galicia, and has since remained in charge.
Fraga's health is getting poorer. He has a very visible lameness and suffered for the death of his wife. However, there are not clear successors in the Galician PP.
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