Miguel Primo de Rivera y Orbaneja, 2nd Marquess of Estella, 22nd Count of Sobremonte, GE, OIC, OSH, LCSF, OMC, OTS, KOC (8 January 1870 – 16 March 1930) was a dictator, aristocrat, and military officer who served as Prime Minister of Spain from 1923 to 1930 during Spain's Restoration era. He deeply believed that it was the politicians who had ruined Spain and that governing without them he could restore the nation. His slogan was "Country, Religion, Monarchy." Historians depict him as an inept dictator who lacked clear ideas and political acumen, and who alienated his potential supporters such as the army. He did not create a base of support among the voters, and depended instead on elite elements. His actions discredited the king and ruined the monarchy, while heightening social tensions that led in 1936 to a full-scale Spanish Civil War.
On the death of his uncle in 1921 he became Marques de Estella. With the support of King Alfonso XIII and the army, Primo de Rivera led a military coup in September 1923. He was appointed Prime Minister by the King. He promised to eliminate corruption and to regenerate Spain. In order to do this he suspended the constitution, established martial law, imposed a strict system of censorship, and ended the turno system of alternating parties.
Primo de Rivera initially said he would rule for only 90 days, however, he chose to remain in power. Little social reform took place but he attempted to reduce unemployment by spending money on public works. To pay for this, Primo de Rivera introduced higher taxes on the rich. When they complained he chose to change his policies and attempted to raise money by public loans. This caused rapid inflation and—after losing support of the army—he was forced to resign in January 1930. After his death, his son, José Antonio Primo de Rivera, played an important role in the development of fascism in Spain.
Miguel Primo de Rivera was born into a landowning military family of Jerez de la Frontera. His father was a retired colonel. His uncle, Fernando, was Captain General in Madrid and the soon-to-be first marquess of Estella. Fernando later participated in the plot to restore the constitutional monarchy in 1875, ending the tumultuous First Republic. His great-grandfather was Bértrand Primo de Rivera (1741–1813), 21st Count of Sobremonte, a general and hero of the Spanish Resistance against Napoleon Bonaparte.
The young Miguel grew up as part of what Gerald Brenan called "a hard-drinking, whoring, horse-loving aristocracy" that ruled "over the most starved and down-trodden race of agricultural labourers in Europe." Studying history and engineering before deciding upon a military career, he won admission to the newly created General Academy in Toledo, and graduated in 1884.