The Salazar-Caetano Era
The republic was replaced by a military dictatorship
promised order, authority, and discipline. The military
abolished political parties, took steps against the small
vocal Marxist groups, and did away with republican
In 1928 it invited University of Coimbra professor António
Oliveira Salazar to serve as minister of finance. In 1932
became prime minister. That year marked the beginning of
regime, the New State (Estado Novo; see
The New State
, ch. 1).
Under Salazar (1932-68), Portugal became, at least
a corporative state. The new constitution of 1933 embodied
corporatist theory, under which government was to be
economic entities organized according to their function,
than by individual representation. Employers were to form
group, labor another, and they and other groups were to
one another through their representative organizations.
In reality, however, Salazar headed an autocratic
dictatorship with the help of an efficient secret police.
censorship was introduced, the politically suspect were
monitored, and the regime's opponents were jailed, sent
exile, and occasionally killed.
Portugal drifted and floundered under this repressive
for several decades. Economic conditions improved slightly
1950s, when Salazar instituted the first of two five-year
economic plans. These plans stimulated some growth, and
standards began to rise.
The 1960s, however, were crisis years for Portugal.
movements emerged in the Portuguese African colonies of
Mozambique, and Guinea-Bissau (formerly Portuguese Guinea)
aimed at liberating those territories from "the last
empire." Fighting three guerrilla movements for more than
decade proved to be enormously draining for a small, poor
in terms of labor and financial resources. At the same
social changes brought about by urbanization, emigration,
growth of the working class, and the emergence of a
middle class put new pressures on the political system to
liberalize. Instead, Salazar increased repression, and the
became even more rigid and ossified.
When Salazar was incapacitated in an accident in 1968,
Council of State, a high-level advisory body created by
constitution of 1933, chose Marcello Caetano (1968-74) to
him. Caetano, though a Salazar protégé, tried to modernize
liberalize the old Salazar system. He was opposed,
however, by a
group widely referred to as "the bunker," the old
These included the country's president, Admiral Américo
the senior officers of the armed forces, and the heads of
the country's largest financial groups. The bunker was
enough that any fundamental change would certainly have
Caetano's immediate overthrow.
As Caetano promised reform but fell into indecision,
sense began to grow among all groups--the armed forces,
opposition, and liberals within the regime--that only a
revolution could produce the changes that Portugal sorely
Contributing to this feeling were a number of growing
the political and social scene.
The continuing economic drain caused by the military
campaigns in Africa was exacerbated by the first great oil
"shock" of 1973. Politically, the desire for democracy, or
least a greater opening up of the political system, was
increasing. Social tensions mounted, as well, because of
pace of change and the absence of opportunities for
The decisive ingredient in these tensions was
within the military itself, long a bulwark of the regime.
military academy graduates resented a program introduced
Caetano whereby university graduates who completed a brief
training program could be commissioned at the same rank as
academy graduates. Caetano had begun the program because
becoming increasingly difficult to recruit new officers as
casualties from the African wars mounted
(see The Military Takeover of 1974
, ch. 5).
Data as of January 1993