The armed forces in Portugal traced their origins back
armies and military orders of medieval times. The orders
often autonomous from the state, and, because they were
during the reconquest, may have predated it. Hence, the
forces came to be thought of--and thought of
separate unit in society, independent of any civil
perhaps above it. Even at the beginning of the 1990s, the
military still had to some extent this sense of aloofness
ideals of a higher order.
The military was long the ultimate arbiter of
national politics. The armed forces were drawn into the
man-on-horseback politics of the nineteenth century.
cum civilian factions "rotated"
of national politics with frequent regularity. The armed
helped usher in the Portuguese Republic in 1910 and ended
1926. The military brought Salazar to power and served as
indispensable prop of his dictatorship.
It was the armed forces that overthrew Caetano in 1974
the MFA that launched the revolution. The MFA took pains
retain special powers by creating the Council of the
which guaranteed the armed forces the power to prohibit
legislation that they saw as harmful to the revolution's
democratic achievements. The military agreed, however,
powers were to be of limited duration.
During the 1980s, the political and social roles of the
forces diminished. The 1982 constitutional amendments
military's political power by abolishing the Council of
Revolution, thereby ending the military's guardianship
Portuguese politics. The National Defense Law of 1982 put
military completely under civilian control. In addition,
armed forces were significantly reduced in size and
the other hand, Portuguese officers became better
technologically sophisticated, and more professionalized.
By the beginning of the 1990s, the Portuguese armed
had a social role similar to that of armed forces in other
European countries. Only extreme events could possibly
Portugal's soldiers back into politics, although like any
interest group they did lobby to protect their interests,
benefits, budget, and position in society.
Data as of January 1993