Azaña, Manuel(mänwĕl` äthä`nyä), 1880–1940, Spanish statesman. An author and critic, he gained prominence as president (1930) of the Madrid Ateneo, a literary and political club, and came to the fore as a revolutionary political leader in 1931. He was minister of war in the first republican cabinet, and premier (1931–33) under President Alcalá Zamora. While premier, he pressed for social, military, and educational reforms and established himself as the principal figure of the democratic forces in Spain. His coalition was defeated in the Nov., 1933, elections, but he played a major role in bringing about the victory of the Popular Front in Feb., 1936. He again became premier, but, discouraged by the increasing polarization of his country, in May, 1936, after the ousting of Alcalá Zamora, he allowed himself to be elected to the less important office of president. He nominally headed the Loyalist government through the civil war, but, increasingly isolated from the now dominant working class forces, he did not play an important role in it. In Feb., 1939, he fled to France just before organized Loyalist resistance in Spain collapsed.
See his eloquent diary (4 vol., 1964).
Born Jan. 10, 1880, in Alcalá de Henares; died Nov. 4, 1940, in Montauban, France. Spanish political leader and man of letters.
Azaña participated in the Pact of San Sebastián (1930) and in that same year founded the Republican Action Party (1930–34). After the republic was established, he became war minister in 1931, and from 1931 to 1933 he was head of the government. In April 1934 he became the leader of the Left Republican Party, which joined the Frente Popular in 1936 Following the latter’s victory in the elections of Feb. 16, 1936, Azaña became head of the government, and subsequently, from May 1936 to Mar. 1, 1939, was president of the republic. During the period of the National Revolutionary War (1936–39), Azaña was the actual leader of the right wing of the Frente Popular. After the victory of Franco’s forces, he emigrated to France.