Carnation Revolution

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Carnation Revolution
Part of the Portuguese transition to democracy and the Cold War
25 de Abril sempre Henrique Matos.jpg
"25th of April always!"
Date25 April 1974;45 years ago (1974-04-25)
Caused by
Methods Coup d'état, nonviolent revolution
Resulted in
Parties to the civil conflict
Lead figures
4 killed

The Carnation Revolution (Portuguese : Revolução dos Cravos), also known as the 25 April (Portuguese: 25 de Abril), was initially a 25 April 1974 military coup in Lisbon which overthrew the authoritarian Estado Novo regime. [1] The revolution began as a coup organised by the Armed Forces Movement (Portuguese: Movimento das Forças Armadas, MFA), composed of military officers who opposed the regime, but it was soon coupled with an unanticipated, popular civil resistance campaign. The revolution led to the fall of the Estado Novo, terminated the Portuguese Colonial War, and started a revolutionary process that would result in a democratic Portugal.

Portuguese language Romance language that originated in Portugal

Portuguese is a Western Romance language originating in the Iberian Peninsula. It is the sole official language of Portugal, Brazil, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, Angola and São Tomé and Príncipe. It also has co-official language status in East Timor, Equatorial Guinea and Macau in China. As the result of expansion during colonial times, a cultural presence of Portuguese and Portuguese creole speakers are also found in Goa, Daman and Diu in India; in Batticaloa on the east coast of Sri Lanka; in the Indonesian island of Flores; in the Malacca state of Malaysia; and the ABC islands in the Caribbean where Papiamento is spoken, while Cape Verdean Creole is the most widely spoken Portuguese-based Creole. A Portuguese-speaking person or nation is referred to as "Lusophone" (Lusófono).

Lisbon Capital city in Lisbon metropolitan area, Portugal

Lisbon is the capital and the largest city of Portugal, with an estimated population of 505,526 within its administrative limits in an area of 100.05 km2. Lisbon's urban area extends beyond the city's administrative limits with a population of around 2.8 million people, being the 11th-most populous urban area in the European Union. About 3 million people live in the Lisbon metropolitan area, which represents approximately 27% of the country's population. It is mainland Europe's westernmost capital city and the only one along the Atlantic coast. Lisbon lies in the western Iberian Peninsula on the Atlantic Ocean and the River Tagus. The westernmost portions of its metro area form the westernmost point of Continental Europe, which is known as Cabo da Roca, located in the Sintra Mountains.

<i>Estado Novo</i> (Portugal) 1933-1974 authoritarian regime in Portugal

The Estado Novo, or the Second Republic, was the corporatist period of rule in Portugal in 1933. It evolved from the Ditadura Nacional formed after the coup d'état of 28 May 1926 against the democratic and unstable First Republic. Together, the Ditadura Nacional and the Estado Novo are recognised as the Second Portuguese Republic. The Estado Novo, greatly inspired by conservative and autocratic ideologies, was developed by António de Oliveira Salazar, President of the Council of Ministers of Portugal from 1932 to 1968, when illness forced him out of office. After 1945, his corporatist economic model was less and less useful and it retarded economic modernization.


Its name arose from the fact that almost no shots were fired, and Celeste Caeiro offered carnations to the soldiers when the population took to the streets to celebrate the end of the dictatorship; other demonstrators followed suit, and carnations were placed in the muzzles of guns and on the soldiers' uniforms. [2] In Portugal, 25 April is a national holiday (Portuguese : Dia da Liberdade, Freedom Day) which commemorates the revolution.

Celeste Caeiro Portuguese pacifist worker

Celeste Martins Caeiro, also known as Celeste dos cravos is a Portuguese pacifist restaurant worker. Her actions led to a 1974 coup being known as the Carnation Revolution.

<i>Dianthus caryophyllus</i> species of plant

Dianthus caryophyllus, commonly known as the carnation or clove pink, is a species of Dianthus. It is probably native to the Mediterranean region but its exact range is unknown due to extensive cultivation for the last 2,000 years.

Public holidays celebrated in Portugal are a mix of religious, town, city, national holidays and holidays of the Autonomous regions of Portugal.


Since 1933, Portugal had been governed by an authoritarian dictatorship, the Estado Novo or New State. The Estado Novo, in turn, evolved from the Ditadura Nacional (National Dictatorship) set up after the 28 May 1926 coup d'etat (called the "National Revolution" under the Estado Novo).

Authoritarianism is a form of government characterized by strong central power and limited political freedoms. Political scientists have created many typologies describing variations of authoritarian forms of government. Authoritarian regimes may be either autocratic or oligarchic in nature, and may be based upon the rule of a party or the military.

Dictatorship form of autocratic government led by a single individual

A dictatorship is an authoritarian form of government, characterized by a single leader or group of leaders and little or no toleration for political pluralism or independent programs or media. According to other definitions, democracies are regimes in which "those who govern are selected through contested elections"; therefore dictatorships are "not democracies". With the advent of the 19th and 20th centuries, dictatorships and constitutional democracies emerged as the world's two major forms of government, gradually eliminating monarchies, one of the traditional widespread forms of government of the time. Typically, in a dictatorial regime, the leader of the country is identified with the title of dictator, although their formal title may more closely resemble something similar to "leader". A common aspect that characterized dictatorship is taking advantage of their strong personality, usually by suppressing freedom of thought and speech of the masses, in order to maintain complete political and social supremacy and stability. Dictatorships and totalitarian societies generally employ political propaganda to decrease the influence of proponents of alternative governing systems.

<i>Ditadura Nacional</i> 1926-1933 government in Portugal

The Ditadura Nacional was the name given to the regime that governed Portugal from 1928, after the re-election of General Óscar Carmona to the post of President, until 1933.

The revolution changed the government to a democracy and produced enormous social, economic, territorial, demographic and political changes. These changes evolved during (and after) a two-year transitional period known as Processo Revolucionário Em Curso (PREC, Ongoing Revolutionary Process), which was characterised by social turmoil and power disputes between left- and right-wing political forces.

Portugal's transition to democracy before the Carnation Revolution of 1974 had not been particularly successful. Its First Republic lasted only sixteen years, from 1910 to 1926. Under the republic, parliamentary institutions worked poorly and were soon discredited. Political corruption and economic mismanagement were widespread. The 28 May 1926 coup d'état ended the First Republic and ushered in first the Ditadura Nacional and then the "Estado Novo" period.

Democracy system of government in which citizens vote directly in or elect representatives to form a governing body, sometimes called "rule of the majority"

Democracy is a form of government in which the people have the authority to choose their governing legislation. Who people are and how authority is shared among them are core issues for democratic development and constitution. Some cornerstones of these issues are freedom of assembly and speech, inclusiveness and equality, membership, consent, voting, right to life and minority rights.

Processo Revolucionário Em Curso period of Portuguese history

The Processo Revolucionário Em Curso (PREC) was the period during the Portuguese transition to democracy, which started after a failed right-wing coup d'état on March 11, 1975, and ended after a failed left-wing coup d'état on November 25, 1975. This period was marked by political turmoil, violence, and instability, and the nationalization of industries.

Despite repeated radio appeals by the revolutionaries asking the population to stay home, thousands of Portuguese citizens descended on the streets and mingled with the military insurgents. [3] The military-led coup returned democracy to Portugal, ending the unpopular Colonial War (in which thousands of Portuguese citizens had been conscripted into military service) and replacing the Estado Novo regime and its secret police (which curbed civil liberties and political freedom). It began as a [4] protest by Portuguese Armed Forces captains against a law: the Dec Lei nº 353/73 of 1973. [5]

Insurgency Armed rebellion against a constituted authority when those taking part in the rebellion are not recognized as lawful combatants

An insurgency is a rebellion against authority when those taking part in the rebellion are not recognized as belligerents. An insurgency can be fought via counter-insurgency warfare, and may also be opposed by measures to protect the population, and by political and economic actions of various kinds and propaganda aimed at undermining the insurgents' claims against the incumbent regime. As a concept, insurgency's nature is ambiguous.

Portuguese Colonial War 1961–1974 armed conflicts in Africa between Portugal and independence movements

The Portuguese Colonial War, also known in Portugal as the Overseas War or in the former colonies as the War of Liberation, was fought between Portugal's military and the emerging nationalist movements in Portugal's African colonies between 1961 and 1974. The Portuguese conservative and authoritarian regime at the time, Estado Novo, was overthrown by a military coup in 1974, and the change in government brought the conflict to an end. The war was a decisive ideological struggle in Lusophone Africa, surrounding nations, and mainland Portugal.

Conscription Compulsory enlistment into national or military service

Conscription, sometimes called the draft, is the compulsory enlistment of people in a national service, most often a military service. Conscription dates back to antiquity and continues in some countries to the present day under various names. The modern system of near-universal national conscription for young men dates to the French Revolution in the 1790s, where it became the basis of a very large and powerful military. Most European nations later copied the system in peacetime, so that men at a certain age would serve 1–8 years on active duty and then transfer to the reserve force.

A group of low-ranking Portuguese officers organised as the Armed Forces Movement (MFA, Movimento das Forças Armadas), including some who had fought pro-independence guerrillas in the Portuguese Empire's territories in Africa, [6] and overthrew the Estado Novo regime which had ruled Portugal since the 1930s. Portugal's new regime pledged to end the colonial wars, and began negotiations with the African independence movements. By the end of 1974, Portuguese troops were withdrawn from Portuguese Guinea and the latter was a UN member state. This was followed by the independence of Cape Verde, Mozambique, São Tomé and Príncipe and Angola in 1975. The Carnation Revolution also led to Portugal's withdrawal from East Timor in south-east Asia. These events prompted a mass exodus of Portuguese citizens from Portugal's African territories (mostly from Angola and Mozambique), creating over a million Portuguese refugees — the retornados . [7] [8]

Armed Forces Movement

The Armed Forces Movement was an organization of lower-ranking, politically left-leaning officers in the Portuguese Armed Forces. It was responsible for instigating the Carnation Revolution of 25 April 1974, a military coup in Lisbon that ended Portugal's corporatist New State regime, the Portuguese Colonial War, and led to the independence of Portugal's overseas territories. The MFA instated the National Salvation Junta which governed the country from 1974 to 1976, following a communiqué of its president, António de Spínola, at 1:30 a.m. on 26 April 1974.

Guerrilla warfare form of irregular warfare

Guerrilla warfare is a form of irregular warfare in which small groups of combatants, such as paramilitary personnel, armed civilians, or irregulars, use military tactics including ambushes, sabotage, raids, petty warfare, hit-and-run tactics, and mobility, to fight a larger and less-mobile traditional military. Guerrilla groups are a type of violent non-state actor.

Portuguese Empire Global empire centered in Portugal

The Portuguese Empire, also known as the Portuguese Overseas or the Portuguese Colonial Empire, was composed of the overseas colonies and territories governed by Portugal. One of the longest-lived empires in world history, it existed for almost six centuries, from the capture of Ceuta in 1415, to the handover of Portuguese Macau to China in 1999. The empire began in the 15th century, and from the early 16th century it stretched across the globe, with bases in North and South America, Africa, and various regions of Asia and Oceania. The Portuguese Empire has been described as the first global empire in history.

Although PIDE (the Estado Novo's political police) killed four people before surrendering, the revolution was unusual because the revolutionaries did not use violence to achieve their goals. Holding red carnations (Portuguese: cravos), many people joined revolutionary soldiers on the streets of Lisbon in apparent joy and audible euphoria. [9] Red is the colour of socialism and communism, the ideological tendencies of many anti-Estado Novo insurgents. [10] It was the end of the Estado Novo (the longest-lived authoritarian regime in Western Europe), and the dissolution of the Portuguese Empire. In the aftermath of the revolution, a new constitution was drafted, censorship was prohibited, free speech was permitted, political prisoners were released and the Portuguese overseas territories in sub-Saharan Africa were granted independence. East Timor was also offered independence, shortly before it was invaded by Indonesia.


At the beginning of the 1970s, nearly a half-century of authoritarian rule weighed on Portugal. After the 28 May 1926 coup d'état, Portugal implemented an authoritarian regime incorporating social Catholicism and integralism. In 1933, the regime was recast and renamed Estado Novo (New State). António de Oliveira Salazar was prime minister until 1968, when he had a stroke. Salazar was replaced in September 1968 by Marcello Caetano, who was deposed during the revolution.

Portugal's Estado Novo government was initially tolerated by its NATO partners due to its anti-communist stance. Elections were rarely contested; the opposition used the limited political freedoms allowed during the brief election period to protest against the regime, withdrawing their candidates before the election to deny the regime political legitimacy. In 1958, General Humberto Delgado (a former member of the regime) stood against the regime's presidential candidate, Américo Tomás, and refused to allow his name to be withdrawn.

Tomás won the election amidst claims of widespread electoral fraud. Immediately after the election, the Salazar government abandoned the practice of popularly electing the president and gave the task to the National Assembly, which was firmly under the regime's control. During Caetano's time in office, he made minor attempts at political reform that did not go nearly far enough for a generation that had no memory of the instability that preceded the 1926 coup. However, even these meager reforms were obstructed by Salazarist elements in the regime. The hardliners were supported by Tomás, who was unwilling to give Caetano as free a hand as Salazar had. The Estado Novo's political police, the PIDE (Polícia Internacional e de Defesa do Estado, later the DGS, Direcção-Geral de Segurança and originally the PVDE, Polícia de Vigilância e Defesa do Estado), persecuted opponents of the regime, who were often tortured, imprisoned or killed.

The international community disliked the Portuguese regime. The Cold War was near its peak; Western- and Eastern-bloc states were supporting guerrillas in the Portuguese colonies, attempting to bring them under American or Soviet influence. The overseas policy of the Portuguese government, despite the desire of many colonial residents to remain under Portuguese rule, led to an abrupt decolonisation after the Carnation Revolution and the fall of the regime in April 1974. For the Portuguese rulers, the overseas empire was a matter of national interest.

Colonial war

PoAF helicopter in Africa AssaltonaMatadaSanga.jpg
PoAF helicopter in Africa

Independence movements began in the African colonies of Portuguese Mozambique, Portuguese Congo, Portuguese Angola, and Portuguese Guinea. The unrest forced the Salazar and Caetano regimes to spend more of Portugal's budget on colonial administration and military expenditure, and the country became increasingly isolated from the rest of the world. During the war, Portugal faced increasing dissent, arms embargoes and other international sanctions. [11]

The war became more unpopular in Portugal due to its length and cost, the worsening of diplomatic relations with other United Nations member states, and its role in perpetuating the Estado Novo regime. Its escalation led to the mutiny of FAP in the Carnation Revolution. Atrocities such as the Wiriyamu Massacre undermined the war's popularity and the government's diplomatic position, although details of the massacre are still disputed. [11] [12] [13] [14] [15] [16] [17]

Many left-wing students and anti-war activists were forced to leave Portugal to escape conscription, imprisonment and torture by government forces. Between 1945 and 1974, however, three generations of right-wing militants in Portuguese schools were guided by a revolutionary nationalism partially influenced by European neo-fascism. The core of the radical students' struggle was an uncompromising defense of the Portuguese Empire and an authoritarian regime. [18]

Economic conditions

Portuguese colonies in Africa under the Estado Novo regime Portuguese colonial war map1.PNG
Portuguese colonies in Africa under the Estado Novo regime

The Estado Novo regime's economic policy encouraged the formation of large conglomerates. The regime maintained a policy of corporatism which resulted in the placement of much of the economy in the hands of a number of strong conglomerates, including those founded by the families of António Champalimaud (Banco Totta & Açores, Banco Pinto & Sotto Mayor, Secil, Cimpor), José Manuel de Mello (Companhia União Fabril), Américo Amorim (Corticeira Amorim) and the dos Santos family (Jerónimo Martins).

The Companhia União Fabril (CUF) was one of the largest and most-diversified Portuguese conglomerates; its core businesses included cement, petrochemicals, agrochemicals, textiles, beer, beverages, metallurgy, naval engineering, electrical engineering, insurance, banking, paper, tourism and mining. Although its corporate headquarters was in mainland Portugal, it had branches, plants and projects throughout the Portuguese Empire (especially in the territories of Cabinda, Angola and Mozambique).

Other medium-sized family companies specialised in textiles (such as those in Covilhã and the northwest), ceramics, porcelain, glass and crystal (such as those in Alcobaça, Caldas da Rainha and Marinha Grande), engineered wood (such as SONAE, near Porto), canned fish (Algarve and the northwest), fishing, food and beverages (liqueurs, beer and port wine), tourism (in Estoril, Cascais, Sintra and the Algarve) and agriculture (the Alentejo, known as the breadbasket of Portugal) by the early 1970s. Rural families engaged in agriculture and forestry.

During the 1961–1974 Portuguese Colonial War (a counterinsurgency against guerrillas), Portuguese Congo, Portuguese Angola and Portuguese Mozambique (colonies at the time) experienced economic growth in the production of oil, coffee, cotton, cashews, coconuts, timber, minerals (including diamonds), metals (such as iron and aluminium), bananas, citrus, tea, sisal, beer, cement, fish and other seafood, beef and textiles.[ citation needed ] Labour unions were prohibited, and minimum wage laws were not enforced. The outbreak of colonial wars in Africa set off significant social changes, among them the rapid incorporation of women into the labour market. Marcelo Caetano fostered economic growth and social improvement, such as a monthly pension to rural workers who had never contributed to Portugal's social security. The objectives of Caetano's pension reform were to increase equity and economic efficiency and reduce fiscal imbalance.

After Salazar's stroke in 1968, Caetano took over as prime minister. He adopted a slogan of "continuous evolution", suggesting reforms of Salazar's system. Caetano's Primavera Marcelista (Marcelist Spring) included greater political tolerance and freedom of the press, and was seen as an opportunity for the opposition to gain concessions from the regime. Portugal had a taste of democracy in 1969, and Caetano authorised the country's first democratic labour-union movement since the 1920s. However, after the elections of 1969 and 1973 it became clear that past political repression would continue against communists, anti-colonialists and other opponents of the regime.

1976 campaign poster for Otelo Saraiva de Carvalho, a leader of the revolution Otelo Saraiva de Carvalho Campaign Poster 1976.jpg
1976 campaign poster for Otelo Saraiva de Carvalho, a leader of the revolution

By the early 1970s, the Portuguese Colonial War had a steadily-increasing budget. The Portuguese military was overstretched and there was no political solution in sight. Although the number of casualties was relatively small, the war had entered its second decade; Portugal faced criticism from the international community, and was becoming increasingly isolated.

The war had a profound impact on the country. Thousands of young men avoided conscription by emigrating illegally, primarily to France and the United States. The revolutionary Armed Forces Movement (MFA) began as an attempt to liberate Portugal from the Estado Novo regime and challenge new military laws which were coming into force. [19] [20] The laws would reduce the military budget and reformulate the Portuguese military. [21] Younger military-academy graduates resented Caetano's programme of commissioning militia officers who completed a brief training course and had served in the colonies' defensive campaigns at the same rank as academy graduates.[ citation needed ] The war in the colonies was becoming increasingly unpopular in Portugal, and the military insurgency gained momentum.

After the revolution, the MFA began to negotiate with African pro-independence guerrillas. The new government in Lisbon was no longer inclined to support Portugal's chaotic, expensive empire, and the Portuguese territories in Africa were rapidly granted independence.


In February 1974, Caetano decided to remove General António de Spínola from the presidency in the face of Spínola's increasing disagreement with the promotion of military officers and the direction of Portuguese colonial policy. This occurred shortly after the publication of Spínola's book, Portugal and the Future, which expressed his political and military views of the Portuguese Colonial War. Several military officers who opposed the war formed the MFA to overthrow the government in a military coup. The MFA was headed by Vítor Alves, Otelo Saraiva de Carvalho and Vasco Lourenço, and was joined later by Salgueiro Maia. The movement was aided by other Portuguese army officers who supported Spínola and democratic civil and military reform. It is speculated that Francisco da Costa Gomes actually led the revolution.[ citation needed ]

The coup had two secret signals. The first was the airing at 10:55 p.m. on 24 April of Paulo de Carvalho's "E Depois do Adeus" (Portugal's entry in the 1974 Eurovision Song Contest) on Emissores Associados de Lisboa, which alerted the rebel captains and soldiers to begin the coup. The second signal came at 12:20 a.m. on 25 April, when Rádio Renascença broadcast "Grândola, Vila Morena" (a song by Zeca Afonso, an influential political folk musician and singer who was banned from Portuguese radio at the time). The MFA gave the signals to take over strategic points of power in the country.

Six hours later, the Caetano government relented. Despite repeated radio appeals from the "captains of April" (the MFA) advising the population to stay home, thousands of Portuguese took to the streets – mingling with, and supporting, the military insurgents. A central gathering point was the Lisbon flower market, then richly stocked with carnations (which were in season). Some of the insurgents put carnations in their gun barrels, an image broadcast on television worldwide [22] which gave the revolution its name. Although no mass demonstrations preceded the coup, spontaneous civilian involvement turned the military coup into a popular revolution "led by radical army officers, soldiers, workers and peasants that toppled the senile Salazar dictatorship, using the language of socialism and democracy. The attempt to radicalise the outcome," noted a contemporary observer of the time, "had little mass support and was easily suppressed by the Portuguese Socialist Party and its allies." [23]

Caetano found refuge in the main Lisbon military police station at the Largo do Carmo. This building was surrounded by the MFA, which pressured him to cede power to General Spínola. Caetano and President Américo Tomás fled to Brazil; Caetano spent the rest of his life there, and Tomás returned to Portugal a few years later. The revolution was closely watched by neighbouring Spain, where the government (and the opposition) were planning the succession of Spanish dictator Francisco Franco. Franco died a year and a half later, in 1975.


Demonstration in Porto, 1983 25 Abril 1983 Porto by Henrique Matos 01.jpg
Demonstration in Porto, 1983

After the coup, power was held by the National Salvation Junta (a military junta). Portugal experienced a turbulent period, known as the Processo Revolucionário Em Curso (Ongoing Revolutionary Process).

The conservative forces surrounding Spinola and the MFA radicals initially confronted each other (covertly or overtly), and Spinola was forced to appoint key MFA figures to senior security positions. Right-wing military figures attempted an unsuccessful counter-coup, resulting in Spinola's removal from office. Unrest within the MFA between leftist forces (often close to the Communist Party) and more-moderate groups (often allied with the Socialists) eventually led to the group's splintering and dissolution.

This stage of the PREC lasted until the 25 November 1975 pro-communist coup, followed by a successful counter-coup by pro-democracy moderates, and was marked by constant friction between liberal-democratic forces and leftist-communist political parties. [24] Portugal's first free election was held on 25 April 1975 to write a new constitution replacing the Constitution of 1933, which prevailed during the Estado Novo era. Another election was held in 1976 and the first constitutional government, led by centre-left socialist Mário Soares, took office.


Before April 1974, the intractable Portuguese Colonial War in Africa consumed up to 40 percent of the Portuguese budget. Although part of Guinea-Bissau became independent de facto in 1973, Bissau (its capital) and the large towns were still under Portuguese control. In Angola and Mozambique, independence movements were active in more remote rural areas from which the Portuguese Army had retreated.

A consequence of the Carnation Revolution was the sudden withdrawal of Portuguese administrative and military personnel from its overseas colonies. Hundreds of thousands of Portuguese Africans returned to Portugal. These people—workers, small businesspeople, and farmers—often had deep roots in the former colonies and became known as the retornados.

Angola began a decades-long civil war which involved the Soviet Union, Cuba, South Africa, and the United States. Millions of Angolans died in the aftermath of independence due to armed conflict, malnutrition and disease. After a brief period of stability, Mozambique became embroiled in a civil war which left it one of the poorest nations in the world.[ citation needed ] The country's situation has improved since the 1990s, and multi-party elections have been held.

East Timor was invaded by Indonesia, and would be occupied until 1999. There were an estimated 102,800 conflict-related deaths from 1974 to 1999 (about 18,600 killings and 84,200 deaths from hunger and illness), most of which occurred during the Indonesian occupation. [25]

After a long period of one-party rule, Guinea-Bissau experienced a brief civil war and a difficult transition to civilian rule in 1998. Cape Verde and São Tomé and Príncipe avoided civil war during the decolonisation period, and established multi-party political systems by the early 1990s. Macau remained a Portuguese colony until 1999, when China took control in a joint declaration and enacted a "one country, two systems" policy similar to that of Hong Kong.

Economic issues

The Portuguese economy changed significantly between 1961 and 1973. Total output (GDP at factor cost) had grown by 120 percent in real terms. The pre-revolutionary period was characterised by robust annual growth in GDP (6.9 percent), industrial production (nine percent), consumption (6.5 percent), and gross fixed capital formation (7.8 percent). The revolutionary period experienced a slowly-growing economy, whose only impetus was its 1986 entrance into the European Economic Community. Although Portugal never regained its pre-revolution growth, at the time of the revolution it was an underdeveloped country with poor infrastructure, inefficient agriculture and the worst health and education indicators in Europe.[ citation needed ]

Pre-revolutionary Portugal had some social and economic achievements. [26] After a long period of economic decline before 1914, the Portuguese economy recovered slightly until 1950. It began a period of economic growth in common with Western Europe, of which it was the poorest country until the 1980s. Portuguese economic growth between 1960 and 1973 (under the Estado Novo regime) created an opportunity for integration with the developed economies of Western Europe despite the colonial war. Through emigration, trade, tourism and foreign investment, individuals and companies changed their patterns of production and consumption. The increasing complexity of a growing economy sparked new technical and organisational challenges. [27] [28]

On 13 November 1972, Fundo do Ultramar (The Overseas Fund, a sovereign wealth fund) was enacted with Decreto-Lei n.º 448/ /72 and the Ministry of Defense ordinance Portaria 696/72 to finance the war. [29] The increasing burden of the war effort meant that the government had to find continuous sources of financing. Decretos-Leis n.os 353, de 13 de Julho de 1973, e 409, de 20 de Agosto were enforced to reduce military expenses and increase the number of officers by incorporating militia and military-academy officers as equals. [19] [30] [31] [32]

The collective farms established in Alentejo after the revolution were inefficient. According to government estimates, about 900,000 hectares (2,200,000 acres) of agricultural land were seized between April 1974 and December 1975 as part of land reform; about 32 percent of the appropriations were ruled illegal.[ full citation needed ] In January 1976, The government pledged to restore the illegally-occupied land to its owners in 1976, and enacted the Land Reform Review Law the following year. Restoration of illegally-occupied land began in 1978. [33] [34]

In 1960, Portugal's per-capita GDP was 38 percent of the European Economic Community average. By the end of the Salazar period in 1968 it had risen to 48 percent, and in 1973 it had reached 56.4 percent; the percentages were affected by the 40 percent of the budget which underwrote the African wars). In 1975 (the year of greatest revolutionary turmoil), Portugal's per-capita GDP declined to 52.3 percent of the EEC average. Due to revolutionary economic policies, oil shocks, recession in Europe and the return of hundreds of thousands of overseas Portuguese from its former colonies, Portugal began an economic crisis in 1974–1975. [35]

Real gross domestic product growth resumed as a result of Portugal's economic resurgence since 1985. The country's 1991 per-capita GDP reached 54.9 percent of the EEC average, slightly exceeding the level at the height of the revolutionary period. [36]

A January 2011 story in the Diário de Notícias (a right-wing Portuguese tabloid newspaper) reported that the government of Portugal encouraged overspending and investment bubbles in public-private partnerships between 1974 and 2010, and the economy has been damaged by risky credit, public debt creation and mismanaged European structural and cohesion funds for almost four decades. Prime Minister José Sócrates' cabinet was unable to foresee or forestall this when symptoms first appeared in 2005, and could not ameliorate the situation when the Portugal was on the verge of bankruptcy in 2011 and required financial assistance from the International Monetary Fund and the European Union. [37]

Freedom of religion

The constitution of 1976 guarantees all religions the right to practice, and non-Catholic groups are recognised as legal entities with the right to assemble. Non-Catholic conscientious objectors have the right to apply for alternative military service. The Catholic Church, however, still sought to impede other missionary activity. [38]

The ban on Jehovah's Witnesses activity was abolished. The Witnesses were registered as a religious organisation in December 1976, and organised their first Portuguese international convention in Lisbon in 1978. [39]

Freedom Day

Freedom Day (25 April) is a national holiday, with state-sponsored and spontaneous commemorations of the civil liberties and political freedoms achieved after the revolution. It commemorates the 25 April 1974 coup and Portugal's first free elections on that date the following year.


Originally named after former Prime Minister Antonio de Oliveira Salazar, the 25 de Abril Bridge is a Lisbon icon Ponte25Abril1.jpg
Originally named after former Prime Minister António de Oliveira Salazar, the 25 de Abril Bridge is a Lisbon icon

Construction of the 25 de Abril Bridge began on 5 November 1962. It opened on 6 August 1966 as the Salazar Bridge, named after Estado Novo leader António de Oliveira Salazar. Soon after the Carnation Revolution, the bridge was renamed the 25 de Abril Bridge to commemorate the revolution. Citizens who removed the large, brass "Salazar" sign from a main pillar of the bridge and painting a provisional "25 de Abril" in its place were recorded on film. Many Portuguese streets and squares are named vinte e cinco de Abril, for the day of the revolution. The Portuguese Mint chose the 40th anniversary of the Carnation Revolution for its 2014 2 euro commemorative coin. [40]


After an early period of turmoil, Portugal emerged as a democratic country. The country divested itself of almost all of its former colonies and experienced severe economic turmoil. For the Portuguese and their former colonies this was a very difficult period, but civil rights and political freedoms were achieved.

The international community censured the Estado Novo regime for refusing to grant independence to its colonies in Africa. Its leaders, Salazar and Caetano, were accused of being oblivious to what Harold Macmillan called the wind of change in Africa.


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The Portuguese Constituent Assembly election, 1975 was carried out in Portugal on 25 April 1975, exactly one year after the Carnation Revolution. It was the first free election held in Portugal since 1925, and only the seventh free election in all of Portuguese history. Turnout was a record 91.66 percent, which remains the highest ever in any Portuguese democratic elections.

Francisco da Costa Gomes President of Portugal

Francisco da Costa Gomes, ComTE, GOA was a Portuguese military officer and politician, the 15th President of the Portuguese Republic.

Salgueiro Maia Portuguese soldier

Fernando José Salgueiro Maia, GOTE, GCL, commonly known just by Salgueiro Maia, was a captain of the Portuguese army. He made a significant contribution to the Carnation Revolution, which resulted in the fall of the then-ruling dictatorship.

Otelo Saraiva de Carvalho Portuguese politician and retired military officer

Otelo Nuno Romão Saraiva de Carvalho, GCL, is a retired Portuguese military officer. He was the chief strategist of the 1974 Carnation Revolution in Lisbon. After the Revolution, Otelo assumed leadership roles in the first Portuguese Provisional Governments, alongside Vasco Gonçalves and Francisco da Costa Gomes, and as the head of military defense force COPCON. In 1976, Otelo ran in the first Portuguese presidential election, in which he placed second with the base of his support coming from the far-left. In the 1980s Otelo was accused of having involvement with the controversial Forças Populares 25 de Abril.

The Academic Crisis is the name given to a Portuguese governmental policy instigated in 1962 by the Portuguese dictatorial regime entailing the boycott and closure of several student associations and organizations, including the National Secretariat of Portuguese Students. Most members of this organization were opposition militants, among them many communists. The political activists who were anti-regime used to be investigated and persecuted by PIDE-DGS, the secret police, and according to the gravity of the offence, were usually sent to jail or transferred from one university to another in order to destabilize oppositionist networks and its hierarchical organization.

April Captains is a 2000 film telling the story of the Carnation Revolution, the military coup that overthrew the fascist dictatorship in Portugal on 25 April 1974. Although dramatised, the plot is closely based on the events of the revolution and many of the key characters are real - such as Captain Salgueiro Maia and Prime Minister Marcelo Caetano.

National Salvation Junta

The National Salvation Junta(Junta de Salvação Nacional,Portuguese pronunciation: [ˈʒũtɐ dɨ saɫvɐˈsɐ̃w̃ nɐsiuˈnaɫ]) was a group of military officers designated to maintain the government of Portugal in April 1974 after the Carnation Revolution had overthrown the Estado Novo dictatorial regime. This junta assumed power following a communiqué of its president, António de Spínola, at 1:30 a.m. on 26 April 1974. The National Salvation Junta was the de jure governing body of Portugal following the Carnation Revolution.

The Mocidade Portuguesa was a Portuguese youth organization founded in 1936 during the Portuguese President of the Council´s António de Oliveira Salazar's far-right-wing regime, the Estado Novo. Membership was compulsory between the ages of 7 and 14, and voluntary until the age of 25.

Third Portuguese Republic

The Third Portuguese Republic is a period in the history of Portugal corresponding to the current democratic regime installed after the Carnation Revolution of 25 April 1974, that put an end to the paternal autocratic regime of Estado Novo of António de Oliveira Salazar and Marcello Caetano. It was initially characterized by constant instability and was threatened by the possibility of a civil war during the early post-revolutionary years. A new constitution was drafted, censorship was prohibited, free speech declared, political prisoners were released and major Estado Novo institutions were closed. Eventually the country granted independence to its African colonies and begun a process of democratization that led to the accession of Portugal to the EEC in 1986.


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Further reading