Franco era survivor to stand for election
31 August 2004, MADRID - The last heavyweight survivor from Spain's dark days under dictator General Francisco Franco, Manuel Fraga, is to stand again in regional elections, it emerged Tuesday.
31 August 2004
MADRID - The last heavyweight survivor from Spain's dark days under dictator General Francisco Franco, Manuel Fraga, is to stand again in regional elections, it emerged Tuesday.
Almost 30 years after the general's death in 1975 set in train the restoration of democracy, the 81-year-old will dominate next year's election to the Galician regional assembly as head of the conservative Popular Party (PP).
The PP may have been kicked out of government at national level last March in the wake of the Madrid train bombings which killed 191 people in Spain's worst ever terrorist outrage.
But the party is aware that it has all too few big personalities on hand to mount an effective campaign from the opposition benches against the ruling Socialist Party.
Although the seal has yet to be set on Fraga's candidature, he has received the blessing of PP leader Mariano Rajoy, who also is a "gallego" - as was Franco himself.
"The party must not be divided. It must move forward," insisted Fraga, adding that "if I take on a responsibility it is to see it through to the end."
Fraga rejected any idea that he would be too old for the task, which would take him through to his 86th birthday, noting that West Germany's first post-war chancellor Konrad Adenauer had retired at 87.
"I am in fine form," he told reporters.
Fraga, born at Villalba in the Galician province of Lugo on 23 November 1922, has been president of the predominantly rural and conservative western region for 14 years.
Now he is the thread that links modern Spanish politics with the Franco era, making him a controversial figure.
After first studying law at the University of Santiago de Compostela he went on to graduate in Political and Economic Science at Madrid's Complutense University.
He then entered Spain's Diplomatic School before taking several academic posts, including the chair of State Theory and Constitutional Law at the Faculty of Political and Economic Science in the University of Madrid, retiring from that position in 1987.
Working his way up under Franco he held a variety of posts, including director of the Institute of Political Studies before in 1962 becoming minister for information and tourism.
That same year Fraga appointed as head of the Spanish national radio network experienced broadcaster Manuel Aznar, whose son Jose Maria would become prime minister as a Fraga protege in 1996.
Aznar, handpicked as PP leader by Fraga in 1990, passed on the PP leadership baton a year ago to Rajoy, who led the party to a general election defeat by the Socialist Party just three days after the Madrid bombings blamed on Islamic extremists.
Aznar honoured Fraga by choosing him - and British Prime Minister Tony Blair, a close ally over Iraq - as witnesses to the September 2002 marriage of his daughter Ana.
Following the restoration of democracy Fraga, who will seek to win the PP a fifth straight absolute majority at the polls in October 2005, in 1977 founded the Popular Alliance, forerunner of the PP, grouping various strands of Spain's rightwing factions, including the far-right.
Between 1973 and 1975 he served as Spanish ambassador to the United Kingdom and returned to Spain to take up the post of interior minister in the first government formed after the restoration of the monarchy.
The son of emigrants to Cuba, Fraga was accorded an absolute majority as he led the PP to a fourth straight regional election win in October 2001.
Fraga's decision to stand once more did not go down well with rival parties, however.
"Manuel Fraga's announcement to stand yet again is proof that Galicia cannot renew itself through the PP," said Emilio Perez Tourino, general secretary of the Galician wing of the Socialists.
[Copyright EFE with Expatica]
Subject: Spanish news