Area Handbook for Portugal

By Eugene K. Keefe; David P. Coffin et al. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 9
POLITICAL DYNAMICS

On April 25, 1974, officers of the Armed Forces Movement (Movimento das Forças Armadas -- MFA) overthrew the ruling regime in Portugal. The regime had dominated Portugal for almost fifty years, first under António de Oliveira Salazar, then under his successor, Marcello Caetano. The coup of April 25 was referred to as a revolution by the Portuguese, and indeed that was what it became. The MFA began, however, not as a revolutionary body but as the outgrowth of a group of young careerist military officers who had professional grievances. Long tours of duty in indecisive African colonial wars, coupled with exposure to their opponents' revolutionary ideology and a growing awareness of Portugal's social, political, and economic stagnation, contributed to the officers' perception that changes were needed. The jubilant, enthusiastic reaction of the people to the MFA immdiately after the coup helped that event become a real revolution, not simply a transfer of ruling power. Clearly the MFA and most of the public looked forward to fundamental changes for Portugal in the future.

A general consensus existed on such specific policy matters as the necessity of ending the colonial wars. For the most part, however, there was little agreement as to where, or how, the broader revolution was to proceed. While the postcoup military authorities and the government attempted to consolidate power, preserve public order, and grapple with immediate economic problems, a plethora of political parties and movements emerged with different, often conflicting plans for Portugal's future. They ranged politically from far left MarxistLeninist and Maoist groups to far rightist armed groups operating from Spain. In between were moderate parties that generally resembled West European conservative, liberal, and social democratic counterparts. Between the moderates and the far leftists there existed the polemical, Moscow-oriented Portuguese Communist Party (Partido Comunista Português -- PCP).

The period between the 1974 coup and May 1976 saw six provisional governments, an attempted right-wing coup, an attempted left-wing coup, two national elections, and the promulgation of a new constitution, while the power of various groups and ideologies waxed and waned and the military decided voluntarily to retire from politics (see

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Area Handbook for Portugal
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page i
  • Foreword iii
  • Preface v
  • Country Profile vii
  • Portugal xi
  • List of Illustrations xii
  • List of Tables xiii
  • Chapter 1 - General Character of the Society 1
  • Chapter 2- Historical Setting 13
  • Chapter 3 - Physical Environment 59
  • Chapter 4 - Population and Living Conditions 81
  • Chapter 5 - Social System 115
  • Chapter 6 - Religious Life 139
  • Chapter 7 - Education and the Arts 167
  • Chapter 8 - Governmental System 193
  • Chapter 9 - Political Dynamics 221
  • Chapter 10 - Foreign Relations 257
  • Chapter 11 - Mass Communications 299
  • Chapter 12 - Character and Structure Of The Economy 311
  • Chapter 13 - Agriculture and Industry 333
  • Chapter 14 - Trade, Transportation, and Services 357
  • Chapter 15 - The Armed Forces 373
  • Chapter 16 - Public Order and Internal Security 397
  • Bibliography 411
  • Glossary 437
  • Index 441
  • Published Area Handbooks 455
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