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The Republic


In 1908, republican revolutionaries shot and killed King Carlos and his elder son, Prince Luis Filipe the Duke of Braganca, in Lisbon’s Terreiro do Paco square as they returned from a holiday from Vila Vicosa Palace. King Calos’s second son, Manuel II, was declared King of Portugal. King Manuel II tried to hold peace in a tenuous political climate by dismissing Prime Minister Joao Franco, who was appointed during his father’s tenure, and proclaiming free elections. The elections were won by republicans and socialists. In 1910, the republicans once again revolted. King Manuel II fled to England, ending the official reign of the House of Braganca. The First Republic was born.

For the next 15 years, political chaos, labor strikes, conflicts with the Catholic church, aggravated economic problems, and Portugal’s entry as an ally in the First World War sank the country into chaos and political instability. On May 28, 1926, General Manuel Gomes da Costa led the military overthrow of the government. The coup d’état installed a National Dictatorship or Ditadura Nacional, and the Second Republic was born.

In 1932, Antonio de Oliveira Salazar, an economist, was declared Prime Minister of Portugal by President Antonio Carmona. The following year Salazar declared a New State or Estado Novo. The Estado Novo was a dictatorial fascist regime with political philosophy mostly based on the authoritarian Catholic social doctrine, thus forcing nationalist and Catholic values on the Portuguese Population. The pillars of Salazar’s regime were to greatly privilege the upper classes to the detriment of the poor. Although Salazar build a primary school in every town, further education was not seen as a priority, and thus, no substantial investment was made in this area. Salazar believed that higher education destroyed the basic conservative and religious values of the people, and it should only be accessible to a minority with close ties to the regime. Salazar created the P.I.D.E., later to be known as D.G.S. (Direçcão Geral de Segurança), an SS like state police that enforced state censorship, repressed dissent and jailed dissidents in sub-human conditions on prisons located in Africa. Under Salazar, the economy grew in the 1940’s due to strict controls and new programs, but it flattened out in the 1950’s and could not keep up with the European economic expansion of the 1960’s. Portugal thus became, and still is, the most backward country in Western Europe. Salazar was also obsessed about keeping the 40 year colonial war alive to hold on to provinces in Africa (Angola, Mozambique and Guinea-Bissau). This caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands of young Portuguese men and created subsequent financial distress. Salazar died on July 27th 1970.

In the 1960’s, the colonies stepped up the uprising efforts and independent governments were started in Angola, Mozambique and Guinea-Bissau. These were supported by both Russia and the USA which wanted to end all colonial empires and expand their own interests and spheres of influence. The colonial wars had the same effects in Portugal as the Vietnam War did in the United States, or the Afghanistan War in the Soviet Union: they were unpopular, messy, and ultimately lost, but not before killing many thousands, and striking at the ideological foundation of the regime.

In 1973, an under-group of military men, also known as The Captains Movement, created the MFA or Movement of the Armed forces (Movimento das Força Armadas), in secrecy. This was done in order to establish a path for overthrowing the dictatorial government of then Prime Minister Marcelo Caetano and President Americo Tomas. This movement, led by the military field strategist Salgueira da Maia and master military coordinator Otelo Saraiva de Carvalho and backed by General Costa Gomes, successfully overthrew the government of Marcelo Caetano on April 25, 1974. This bloodless coup d’état was nicknamed the Carnations Revolution (Revolução dos Cravos). The reson for this name was due to the people welcoming the armed forces with carnations, which were then promptly inserted in the barrel of the firearms. The Third Republic was born.

By 1976, Portugal had granted independence to all of its African provinces. Indonesia invaded and annexed East Timor, a Portuguese province, and in 1999 Macau was returned to the Chinese amicably. East Timor was recognized as an independent country in 2002.

In 1986, Portugal entered the European Economic Community (EEC) known today as the European Community (EC).