History of Portugal

History of Portugal

sexta-feira, 26 de março de 2010

The first and second Republic - (1910 - 1974)

The First RepublicIn May 1911, the provisional government held elections for the Constituent Assembly, which undertook to write a new constitution. This document, which appeared on August 21, abolished the monarchy and inaugurated Portugal's first republican government.

The constitution secularized the state by disestablishing the church, forbidding religious instruction in the public schools, and prohibiting the military from taking part in religious observances. It granted workers the right to strike and opened the civil service to merit appointments. The blue and white flag of the monarchy was replaced with one of red and green, embellished with an armillary sphere in gold.

The constitution vested legislative power in a bicameral Congress of the Republic. The upper house, called the Senate, was indirectly elected from local governments for six-year terms; the lower house, or Chamber of Deputies, was directly elected for three-year terms. Executive power was vested in a cabinet and prime minister responsible to the Congress, which also chose the president of the republic, the nominal head of state. The Constituent Assembly became the first Congress by electing one-third of its members to the Senate; the remaining two-thirds constituted the Chamber of Deputies.

The Portuguese Republican Party (Partido Repúblicano Português--PRP) was Portugal's first political party in the modern sense of the term. Although its base of support was primarily urban, the PRP had a nationwide organization that extended into the rural areas. It did not remain unified, however. In 1911 moderate and radical republican deputies divided over the election by the Constituent Assembly of the new president of the republic. The candidate of the radical republicans, led by Afonso Costa, was defeated by the candidate of the moderates, led by Manuel Brito Camacho and António José de Almeida, who opposed Costa's intransigent republicanism and feared that he would gain control of the new government.

The split widened at the PRP Congress in October 1911 when the moderates where hooted down and left in disgust. The moderates then formed the Republican National Union (União Nacional Repúblicana--UNR), the directorate consisting of Camacho, Almeida, and Aresta Branco. The UNR was essentially a personal clique of several moderate leaders whose purpose was to get through parliament a program that would mitigate the impact of the more radical republican government. After this breakup, the PRP became known as the Democratic Party (Partido Democrático-- PD).

In February 1912, the UNR leadership itself split into two republican splinter parties. The immediate cause of the rift was disagreement over the UNR program and rivalry between Camacho and Almeida. The rump, led by Camacho, was renamed the Republican Union (União Repúblicana--UR), and its members became known as Unionists. The other group, led by Almeida, was called the Republican Evolutionist Party (Partido Repúblicano Evolucionista- -PRE), and its followers became known as Evolutionists. The program of the PRE was quite similar to that of the UR, but it urged a policy of moderation and conciliation and advocated proportional representation and revision of intolerant laws.

The splintering of the original PRP, personalism, and petty squabbles produced acute governmental instability during the First Republic. In its fifteen years and eight months of existence, there were seven elections for the Congress, eight for the presidency, and forty-five governments. Instability was also encouraged by the government's total dependency upon the Congress, where no stable majority could be organized. This political turmoil led to several periods of military rule during the First Republic and eventually to its overthrow.

In January 1915, senior military officers, who were becoming increasingly alienated from the republic, imposed a period of military rule at President Manuel de Arriaga's request. In May of the same year, however, prorepublican junior officers and sergeants returned the government to civilians and held new elections. The PD, led by Afonso Costa, won the day.

In 1916 Prime Minister Costa, who feared that a German victory in World War I would mean the loss of Portugal's African colonies of Mozambique and Angola, sent an expeditionary force of 40,000 men to fight on the side of the Allies. Poorly trained and equipped, the force suffered horrendous casualties in Flanders.

This debacle, as well as severe food shortages caused by the war mobilization, paved the way for a second military intervention in December 1917, led by Major Sidónio Pais. Pais, who had held a diplomatic post in Prussia some years before, was sympathetic to Germany and antiliberal. He was an energetic, charismatic individual who sought to build a broadly based popular following.

Gradually, however, he came to rely on upper-class youths, young army officers, students, and sons of big landowners, who were antiliberal and traditionalist. In December 1918, Pais was assassinated by a radical republican corporal recently returned from the front. Portugal's government was returned to civilians.

Political instability continued under civilian government. A small-scale civil war erupted in northern Portugal as monarchists led by Henrique Paiva Couciero attempted to restore the monarchy. A wave of violence swept the country, and leading republican figures, including the prime minister, were murdered. Political instability and violence brought economic life to a standstill. The middle class, which had initially supported the republic, began to turn toward traditional values as liberal and republican ideals were increasingly discredited.

The apparitions at Fátima in 1917 By 1925 the republic had become the butt of ridicule and cynicism. It never satisfactorily resolved its dispute with the church, against which some of its first legislation had been directed. Official anticlericism made it impossible for many to accept the republic and stimulated the development of a politically involved Catholic intelligentsia in opposition to the parliamentary regime. The apparitions at Fátima in 1917 occurred at the height of Prime Minister Costa's anticlerical campaign. Those dissatisfied with the republic viewed the authoritarian governments established in Italy (in 1922) and Spain (in 1923) as attractive alternatives.

Many military officers, despite their previous negative experiences in government, thought that only they could save Portugal from disintegration. Their inclination to intervene once again was heightened by grievances over low pay and poor equipment. During the last thirteen months of the republic, there were three attempts to overturn the regime. The last of these was successful. On May 26, 1926, General Manuel Gomes da Costa, the coup d'état's leader selected by the young officers who had organized it, announced from Braga his intention to march on Lisbon and take power. This announcement was followed by a massive military uprising that met little resistance. On May 28, General Gomes da Costa symbolically entered Lisbon, a dramatic gesture emulating Benito Mussolini's march on Rome in 1922. Prime Minister António Maria da Silva resigned on May 29, and the First Republic was ended.

Military Dictatorship

The coup d'état was bloodless because no military units came to the aid of the government. On May 30, the president of the republic, Bernardino Machado, turned the reins of power over to Commander José Mendes Cabeçadas, a naval officer and staunch republican, not to General Gomes da Costa, the titular leader of the military uprising. This resulted in two months of behind-the- scenes infighting among various factions of the military.

The promonarchist tendency within the May 28 Movement, as the coup was called, allied itself with right-wing but not necessarily monarchist junior officers who wanted some form of authoritarian state. In the hope of preventing the rise of a monarchist or authoritarian regime, Mendes Cabeçadas formed a joint government with Gomes da Costa on June 1. On June 17, Gomes da Costa ousted Mendes Cabeçadas and his followers from the provisional government. General da Costa's supremacy was temporary; he too was ousted on July 9. On the same day, General Óscar Fragoso Carmona was named head of the military government.

The military government was now in the hands of monarchists and authoritarian officers, and it seemed as if a restoration of the monarchy would follow. This was not to be, however, because of the reaction that such an outcome could have provoked among a substantial number of republicans within the officer corps. Carmona, who was both a republican and a devout Catholic, was acceptable to a broad range of views. He carefully preserved a balance between pro- and antimonarchists and pro- and anticlerical officers in order to ensure that the military regime would survive. On March 25, 1928, General Carmona was elected to the presidency of the republic and appointed Colonel José Vicente de Freitas, a staunch republican, as prime minister, which virtually assured that the monarchy was not going to be restored, at least not during the military dictatorship.
António de Oliveira Salazar
Carmona named António de Oliveira Salazar, a professor of political economy at the University of Coimbra, as minister of finance. Salazar accepted the post on April 27, 1928, only after he had demanded and had been granted complete control over the expenditures of all government ministries. In his first year at the Ministry of Finance, he not only balanced the budget but achieved a surplus, the first since 1913.

He accomplished this feat by centralizing financial control, improving revenue collection, and cutting public expenditures. Salazar remained minister of finance as military prime ministers came and went. From his first successful year as minister of finance, Salazar gradually came to embody the financial and political solution to the turmoil of the military dictatorship, which had not produced a clear leader.

Salazar easily overshadowed military prime ministers and gradually gained the allegiance of Portugal's young intellectuals and military officers, who identified with his authoritarian, antiliberal, anticommunist view of the world. Moreover, Salazar's ascendancy was welcomed by the church, which saw in him a savior from the anticlericalism of the republicans. It was also welcomed by the upper classes of landowners, businessmen, and bankers, who were grateful for his success in stabilizing the economy after the financial crisis of the First Republic.

The New State
As Salazar came to be seen as the civilian mainstay of the military dictatorship, he increasingly took it upon himself to lay out the country's political future. He set forth his plans in two key speeches, one on May 28, 1930, and the other on July 30 of the same year. In the first, he spoke of the need for a new constitution that would create a strong authoritarian political order, which he dubbed the New State (Estado Novo).

In the second, he announced his intention to establish such a state. The military approved of Salazar's speeches, and on July 5, 1932, after the collective resignation of the government of General Júlio Domingos de Oliveira, which had come to power two years earlier, he was appointed prime minister.

Salazar came from a peasant background. He had studied for the priesthood before turning to economics at the University of Coimbra, where he received his doctorate in 1918 and afterward taught. While a faculty member, he earned a reputation as a scholar and a writer, as well as a leader in Catholic intellectual and political movements. After taking up the reins of government, he retained his professorial style, lecturing the cabinet, his political followers, and the nation. Salazar never married and lived ascetically. A skillful political manipulator with a capacity for ruthlessness, he was a respected rather than a popular figure.

The period of transition to the authoritarian republic promised after the military takeover in 1926 ended in 1933 with the adoption of a new constitution. The 1933 constitution, dictated by Salazar, created the New State, in theory a corporate state representing interest groups rather than individuals. The constitution provided for a president directly elected for a seven-year term and a prime minister appointed by and responsible to the president.

The relationship of the office of prime minister to the presidency was an ambiguous one. Salazar, continuing as prime minister, was head of government. He exercised executive and legislative functions, controlled local administration, police, and patronage, and was leader of the National Union (União Nacional--UN), an umbrella group for supporters of the regime and the only legal political organization.

The legislature, called the National Assembly, was restricted to members of the UN. It could initiate legislation but only concerning matters that did not require government expenditures. The parallel Corporative Chamber included representatives of cultural and professional groups and of the official workers' syndicates that replaced free trade unions.

Women were given the vote for the first time, but literacy and property qualifications limited the enfranchised segment of the population to about 20 percent, somewhat higher than under the parliamentary regime. Elections were held regularly, without opposition.

n 1945 Salazar introduced so-called democratic measures, including an amnesty for political prisoners and a loosening of censorship, that were believed by liberals to represent a move toward democratic government. In the parliamentary election that year, the opposition formed the broadly based Movement of Democratic Unity (Movimento de Unidade Democrática--MUD), which brought democrats together with fascists and communists.

The opposition withdrew before the election, however, charging that the government intended to manipulate votes. General Norton de Matos, a candidate who had opposed Carmona in the 1949 presidential election, pulled out on the same grounds. In 1958 the eccentric General Humberto Delgado ran against the official candidate, Admiral Américo Tomás, representing the UN. Delgado pointedly campaigned on the issue of replacing Salazar and won 25 percent of the vote. After the election, the rules were altered to provide for the legislature to choose the president.

Salazar's was a low-keyed personalist rule. The New State was his and not a forum for a party or ideology. Although intensely patriotic, he was cynical about the Portuguese national character that in his mind made the people easy prey for demagogues. He avoided opportunities to politicize public life and appeared uncomfortable with the political groups that were eventually introduced to mobilize opinion on the side of the regime's policies.

Politics in Salazar's Portugal consisted of balancing power blocs within the country--the military, business and commerce, landholders, colonial interests, and the church. All political parties were banned. The UN, officially a civic association, encouraged public apathy rather than political involvement. Its leadership was composed of a small political and commercial elite, and contacts within ruling circles were usually made on an informal, personal basis, rather than through official channels. Within the circle, it was possible to discuss and criticize policy, but no channels for expression existed outside the circle.

The UN had no guiding philosophy apart from support for Salazar. The tenets of the regime were said to be authoritarian government, patriotic unity, Christian morality, and the work ethic. Despite a great deal of deference paid to the theory of the corporate state, these tenets were essentially the extent of the regime's ideological content. Although the regime indulged in rallies and youth movements with the trappings of fascist salutes and paraphernalia, it was satisfied to direct public enthusiasm into "fado, Fátima, and football"--music, religion, and sports.
A devout Roman Catholic, Salazar sought a rapprochement with the church in Portugal.

A concordat with the Vatican in 1940 reintroduced state aid to Roman Catholic education, but Salazar resisted involving the church--which he called "the great source of our national life"--in political questions. His policies were aimed essentially at healing the divisions caused within Portuguese society by generations of anticlericalism. Although the church had consistently supported Salazar, the regime came under increasing criticism by progressive elements in the clergy in the 1960s. One such incident led to the expulsion of the bishop of Porto.

Whatever may be said of his political methods, Salazar had an exceptional grasp of the techniques of fiscal management and, within the limits that he had set for the regime, his program of economic recovery succeeded. Portugal's overriding problem in 1926 had been its enormous public debt. Salazar's solution was to achieve financial solvency by balancing the national budget and reducing external debt. This solution required a strong government capable of cutting public expenditures and reducing domestic consumption by raising taxes and controlling credit and trade.

In a few years Salazar singlemindedly achieved a solvent currency, a favorable balance of trade, and surpluses both in foreign reserves and in the national budget.
The bulk of the Portuguese remained among the poorest people in Europe, however. The austerity that Salazar's fiscal and economic policies demanded weighed most heavily on the working class and the rural poor, forestalling the development that would raise their standards of living. Outside the cities, traditional patterns of life persisted, especially in the conservative north, which had been stabilized by evenly distributed poverty and was a stronghold of support for the regime. To create an atmosphere of rising expectations without having the means to satisfy them, Salazar argued, would return the country to the chaotic conditions Portugal had known earlier in the century.

Stable government and a solvent economy would eventually attract foreign investment regardless of the attitude abroad to the nature of Salazar's regime. Cheap labor and the promise of competitive prices for Portuguese-made goods provided an incentive for investment, particularly in labor-intensive production, which was becoming uneconomic in Northern Europe. Priority was given, however, to colonial development. Salazar insisted that the overseas territories be made to pay for themselves and also to provide the trade surpluses required by Portugal to import the essentials that it could not produce itself. In essence, he updated Portuguese mercantilist policy: colonial goods were sold abroad to create a surplus at home.

World War IIIn the years before World War II, Salazar cultivated good relations with all major powers except the former Soviet Union. Intent on preserving Portuguese neutrality, he had entered into a nonintervention convention with the European powers during the Spanish Civil War (1936-39); however, Soviet activity in Spain and the leftward course of the Spanish Republic persuaded him to support Francisco Franco's nationalists, with whom more than 20,000 Portuguese volunteers served. The war in Spain also prompted Salazar to mobilize a political militia, the Portuguese Legion, as a counterweight to the army.

Although he admired Benito Mussolini for his equitable settlement of Italy's church-state conflict, Salazar found the "pagan" elements in German nazism repugnant. He opposed appeasement, protested the German invasion of Poland in 1939, and would appear to have been among the first, with Winston Churchill, to express confidence in ultimate Allied victory as early as 1940.

Portugal remained neutral during World War II, but the Anglo-Portuguese alliance was kept intact, Britain pledging to protect Portuguese neutrality. The United States and Britain were granted bases in the Azores after 1943, and Portuguese colonial products--copper and chromium--were funneled into Allied war production. Macau and Timor were occupied by Japan from 1941 to 1945. Portugal became a charter member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in 1949, and in 1971 Lisbon became headquarters for NATO's Iberian Atlantic Command (IBERLANT).

Portugal also maintained a defensive military alliance (the Iberian Pact, also known as the Treaty of Friendship and Nonaggression) with Spain that dated from 1939. Admission to the United Nations (UN) was blocked by the Soviet Union until 1955. In 1961 Indian armed forces invaded and seized Goa, which had been Portuguese since 1510. Into the early twentieth century, the European settler communities in Portuguese Africa had virtual autonomy, and colonial administrations were perpetually bankrupt. Lisbon's concern in Angola and Mozambique was to make good the Portuguese claim to those territories, and pacification of the interior was still underway in the 1930s. Control over the colonies was tightened under Salazar.

The Colonial Act of 1930 stated that Portugal and its colonies were interdependent entities. The New State insisted on increased production and better marketing of colonial goods to make the overseas territories self-supporting and to halt the drain on the Portuguese treasury for their defense and maintenance. New land was opened for settlement, and emigration to the colonies was encouraged.

Portugal ignored the UN declaration on colonialism in 1960, which called on the colonial powers to relinquish control of dependent territories. Angola, Mozambique, and Guinea were made provinces with the same status as those in metropolitan Portugal by constitutional amendment in 1951. Armed resistance to the Portuguese colonial administration broke out in Angola in 1961 and had spread by 1964 to Mozambique and Guinea. By 1974 Portugal had committed approximately 140,000 troops, or 80 percent of its available military forces, to Africa; some 60 percent of these were African.

Portuguese combat casualties were relatively light, and fighting consisted of small-unit action in border areas far from population centers. Only in Guinea did rebel troops control substantial territory. Portuguese forces appeared to have contained the insurgencies, and although large numbers of troops were required to hold the territory, Portugal seemed to some observers capable of sustaining military activity in Africa indefinitely. These same observers considered that, from a military standpoint, the wars had been won.

The wars did not interrupt the colonial production on which Portuguese economic stability depended. Indeed, they had provided a windfall to economic development in Angola and Mozambique, both with large settler communities. A large rural development project was underway in the Cahora Bassa region of Mozambique, as was the exploitation of oil in Cabinda enclave near Angola.

More colonial income was being diverted into social services for Africans and Europeans, and in areas of medicine and education better facilities were thought to be available in Luanda and Lourenço Marques (now Maputo) than in Lisbon. However, forced native labor remained a factor in the economic development of Portuguese Africa into the 1960s. Foreign investment capital often came to the colonies from countries whose governments had officially condemned Portuguese colonialism.

No one except Pombal left so broad a mark on modern Portuguese history as Salazar. For nearly forty years, he completely dominated Portuguese government and politics. His departure was prosaic: he suffered an incapacitating stroke in June 1968 after a freak accident and died, still in a coma, more than a year later.

The Social StatePresident Tomás appointed Marcello José das Neves Caetano to succeed Salazar as prime minister, although the regime did not admit for some time that Salazar would not be returning to power. Caetano was a teacher, jurist, and scholar of international reputation who had been one of the drafters of the 1933 constitution. Considered a moderate within the regime, he had taken unpopular stands in opposition to Salazar. He had resigned as rector of Lisbon University in 1960 in protest over police repression of student demonstrations. Unlike Salazar he came from the upper middle class, was ebullient and personable, and sought contact with the people.
It was clear from the start that Caetano was a different sort of leader.

He spoke of "evolution within continuity," change fast enough to keep up with expectations but not so fast as to antagonize conservatives. He brought technocrats into the government and eased police repression. The elections held in 1969 were the freest in decades. He even altered the nomenclature of the regime; the New State became the Social State, but it remained essentially an authoritarian regime.

In contrast to Salazar, Caetano advocated an expansionist economic policy and promoted rapid development and increasing consumption without, however, supplementing the means of production. The consequence of liberalization was the first perceptible inflation in years, reaching 15 percent on such working-class staples as codfish and rice in the early 1970s.

Prime Minister Caetano had inherited Salazar's office but not his power nor, apparently, his skill as a politician and economist. President Tomás, meanwhile, had emerged with greater authority, as Salazar's death put him in a position to exercise the constitutional authority of the presidency to the fullest. Deeply conservative and supported by an entrenched right wing within the official political movement, Tomás employed threats of an army coup to oppose Caetano's policy of liberalization. Caetano took a harder line on Africa in an effort to head off opposition by the president and the officers close to him.

As the events of spring 1974 were to demonstrate, the regimes of Salazar's New State and Caetano's Social State had depended on personalities. In existence for nearly fifty years, the institutions of the corporate state had never put down roots in Portuguese political soil. Apathy had not implied support. On April 25, 1974, the officers and men of the Armed Forces Movement (Movimento das Forças Armadas--MFA) ousted Caetano and Tomás, paving the way for a junta under General António de Spínola to take command of the Portuguese Republic.

AS A RESULT OF CHANGES wrought by the Revolution of 1974, Portugal in the 1990s would be almost unrecognizable to persons who knew the country twenty or thirty years ago. The Revolution of 1974 set loose social and political forces that the country had not seen before on such a large scale and which could not be entirely controlled. The revolution, in turn, occurred and had such a profound impact because of other, gradual social pressures that had been building for decades and even centuries. In the mid-1970s, these changes exploded to the surface. In the aftermath of the revolution, as Portuguese society continued to modernize and the country was admitted as a full member of the European Community , social change continued, but not so frenetically and dramatically as during the revolutionary mid-1970s.

Before 1974 Portugal was a highly traditional society. It resembled what historian Barbara Tuchman called the "Proud Tower" of pre-World War I European society. Class and social divisions were tightly drawn and defined, society was organized on a rigidly hierarchical and authoritarian basis, and social relations were often stiff and formal. One was born into a certain station in life and was expected to stay there and to accept that fact; social mobility was limited. Class standing and class relations were clearly delineated by criteria of birth, dress, speech, and manner of behavior. Visitors often remarked that in Portugal one could still find a nineteenth-century society existing within a twentieth-century context.

Even within this rigid, very conservative, and traditionalist society, however, considerable change was beginning to occur, particularly during the 1960s as economic development accelerated. The trade unions had grown in size and assertiveness. The middle class was emerging as a numerically larger and sociologically more important element than therefore. A new business-industrial class had grown up alongside, and frequently overlapped with, the more traditional landed and noble class.

In addition, Portugal experienced urbanization; at the same time, many Portuguese left the country in search of better opportunities abroad. Literacy was also rising, though slowly. As modernization and social change began to accelerate in the 1960s and early 1970s, discontent with the closed and authoritarian regime of António de Oliveira Salazar (1928-68) and his successor Marcello José das Neves Caetano (1968-74) also began to mount. These and other pressures culminated in the Revolution of 1974.

Following the revolution, which led to the establishment of democracy in Portugal, societal pressures continued. Pressures for education, land, jobs, better health care, housing, social equality, and solutions to Portugal's pressing social problems mounted. Portugal remained, even with the economic growth of the 1980s and early 1990s, a poor country compared to the West European standards.

Moreover, rising expectations were threatening to overwhelm the democratic regime's capacities for resolving the problems. Portugal's full economic participation in the EC at the end of 1992, when it would no longer have the protection of high tariff barriers, added to social tensions and uncertainties. Thus, as Portugal began the 1990s, the promise of a new, stable, democratic era of development coexisted with a fear of what the future might bring.

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