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Azaña, Manuel

Manuel María Nicanor Federico Carlos Azaña y Díaz

b. 10 Jan 1880, Alcalá de Henares, near Madrid, Spain
d. 3 Nov 1940, Montauban, Tarn-et-Garonne, France

Title: Presidente del Gobierno de la República Española (President of the Government of the Spanish Republic)
Term: 14 Oct 1931 - 16 Dec 1931
Chronology: 14 Oct 1931, appointed by authority temporarily granted to the President of the Cortes during the session of 14 Oct 1931 [1][2]
11 Dec 1931, ceased to exercise the functions of Head of State upon swearing-in of the President of the Republic [3]
16 Dec 1931, ceased to exercise the duties of office upon his confirmation as Presidente del Consejo de Ministros (President of the Council of Ministers) [4]
Title: Presidente de la República (President of the Republic)
Term: 11 May 1936 - 3 Mar 1939
Chronology: 10 May 1936, elected, meeting of the Asamblea de Diputados a Cortes y Compromisarios (electoral assembly composed of deputies of the Cortes and electors), Palacio de Cristal del Retiro, Madrid [5]
11 May 1936, took an oath of office, session of the Cortes, Palacio del Congreso [6]
5 Feb 1939, ceased to exercise the functions of office upon leaving national territory [7]
27 Feb 1939, signed a letter of resignation addressed to the President of the Cortes, Collonges-sous-Salève, Haute-Savoie, France (made known to the public at a conference with the media on 28 Feb 1939) [8]
3 Mar 1939, resignation accepted, meeting of the Diputación Permanente de las Cortes (Standing Committee of the Cortes), Paris, France [8][9]
Names/titles: Original name: Azaña y Díaz-Gallo (officially changed to Azaña y Díaz)
Other offices: Presidente del Consejo de Ministros (President of the Council of Ministers) [16 Dec 1931 - 12 Sep 1933, 19 Feb 1936 - 10 May 1936] see details
Descendant of a rich family of Alcalá de Henares; received secondary education in the Colegio Complutense and Instituto Cardenal Cisneros; attended the Augustinian Colegio de María Cristina in the monastery of San Lorenzo de El Escorial; received lawyer's licence from the University of Zaragoza (1897); earned a doctorate at the Universidad Complutense in Madrid (1900); was employed by the Main Directorate of the Registries as notary (1910); won a scholarship to study in Paris (1911); joined the Partido Reformista (Reformist Party) in 1914; collaborated in publishing newspapers, including El Sol and El Imparcial; founded the La Pluma magazine (1920); joined the editorial board of the weekly España (1924); worked as secretary of the Ateneo (1913-1920), a Madrid literary club, becoming its president in 1930; wrote a number of plays and novels, winning the national prize for literature for La Vida de Don Juan Valera (1926); failed to win election to the Cortes in 1918 and 1923; criticized the dictatorship of Miguel Primo de Rivera; organized the Republican Action (Acción Republicana, 1926), which became a part of the Alianza Republicana in 1930; one of the signatories of the Pacto de San Sebastián, a program of republican revolution (17 Aug 1930); member of the Comité político (14 Apr 1931), which stood behind the seizure of power after the flight of King Alfonso XIII; served as minister of war (14 Apr 1931 - 12 Sep 1933) in the provisional government of Niceto Alcalá-Zamora; was elected to the Cortes Constituyentes (Constituent Cortes) as a deputy for Valencia (1931-1933); following the resignation of Alcalá-Zamora, assumed the office of President of the Government (14 Oct 1931 - 16 Dec 1931); upon the promulgation of the Constitution of the Spanish Republic (9 Dec 1931), was appointed President of the Council of Ministers (16 Dec 1931 - 12 Sep 1933); pursued deliberately anticlerical policies and carried out agrarian reform; was forced out of power after losing support of the socialists over severe suppression of an anarchist revolt at Casas Viejas (1933); elected deputy of the Cortes for Vizcaya (1933-1935) and Madrid (1936); united his party with the radical socialists and the Galician autonomists, creating Izquierda Republicana (Republican Left) in 1934; was arrested on suspicion of encouraging local uprisings in Catalonia and Asturias, but he was acquitted at his trial (1935); formed the Frente Popular (Popular Front), a broad left-wing coalition that included liberals, socialists, anarchists, and communists (1935); was appointed President of the Council of Ministers (19 Feb 1936 - 10 May 1936) after the victory of the Popular Front at parliamentary election; elected President of the Republic (11 May 1936 - 3 Mar 1939) shortly before the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939); attempted to widen the support of the republican government by appointing the Socialist Francisco Largo Caballero as head of government (1936-1937); with the Communist Juan Negrín López as President of the Council of Ministers (17 May 1937 - 6 Mar 1939), he lost control of policy, remaining largely as a figurehead; as the Civil War was about to end, fled to France (5 Feb 1939), where he resigned the office (27 Feb 1939).
Biographical sources: "The Tragedy of Manuel Azaña", by Frank Sedwick (Ohio State University Press, 1963); "Manuel Azaña, entre el mito y la leyenda", by Ángeles Egido León (Valladolid: Junta de castilla y León, 1998); "Vida y tiempo de Manuel Azaña (1880-1940)", by Juliá Santos (Madrid: Taurus, 2008)

Candidate Vote (10 May 1936)
Manuel Azaña y Díaz 754
Ramón González Peña 2
Alejandro Lerroux García 1
Francisco Largo Caballero 1
José Antonio Primo de Rivera y Sáenz de Heredia, marqués de Estella 1
blank 88
votes cast 847
Source of electoral results: Archivo del Congreso de los Diputados. Serie Documentación Electoral: 141 nº 30; Gaceta de Madrid. Diario Oficial de la República. Lunes 11 Mayo 1936. Núm. 132. P. 1379.

[1] Gaceta de Madrid, No. 288, 15 Oct 1931, p. 275.
[2] The resignation of Azaña's predecessor, Niceto Alcalá-Zamora, was communicated to the President of the Constituent Cortes, Julián Besteiro Fernández, who passed the news to the deputies at the session of 14 Oct 1931. Alejandro Lerroux y García, minister of state, moved that Besteiro be granted an extraordinary authority to solve governmental crisis and the Cortes approved this motion by acclamation and suspended its deliberations. During the ensuing break, Besteiro negotiated the creation of a new government chaired by Azaña and upon resuming the session announced the appointment.
[3] Diario de sesiones de las Cortes Constituyentes de la República Española, No. 90, pp. 2931-2932.
[4] Gaceta de Madrid, No. 351, 17 Dec 1931, p. 1762.
[5] Archivo del Congreso de los Diputados. Serie Documentación Electoral: 141 nº 30; Gaceta de Madrid. Diario Oficial de la República. Lunes 11 Mayo 1936. Núm. 132. P. 1379.
[6] Diario de las sesiones de Cortes, No. 28, 12 May 1936, pp. 683-684 (verbatim record of the session of 12 May 1936 includes an act of swearing-in ceremony held on 11 May 1936).
[7] "Memorias políticas y de guerra. Tomo II: Memorias de guerra: 1936-1939", by Manuel Azaña (Barcelona: Crítica, 1981).
[8] "Diario de Sesiones del Congreso de los Diputados, 3 marzo 1939" in "La España política del siglo XX, en fotografías y documentos: Tomo tercero: La Guerra Civil: 1936-1939", ed. by Fernando Díaz-Plaja (Barcelona: Plaza & Janes, 1970), pp. 501-503.
[9] In accordance with Art. 74 of the Constitution of 1931, the functions of President of the Republic in case of vacancy in the office should have passed to President of the Cortes (Diego Martínez Barrio). However, given the complexity of situation in the last months of the Civil War and absence of both officials from the territory of Spain, the designated successor never took the office. On 17 Aug 1945 Martínez Barrio was elected Presidente Interino de la República by votes of 96 deputies of the Cortes gathered at Mexico City, Mexico.