Manuel Azaña (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).