Portugal History – The Contemporary Age

By | December 25, 2021

Charles I himself was assassinated and his successor, Emanuele II, was deposed in 1910 by a revolution that proclaimed a republic. A provisional government, led by JFT Braga, enacted a series of anticlerical measures and prepared the election of a constituent assembly; the latter gave the Portugal a new fundamental charter and elected M. de Arriaga (1911) to the presidency of the Republic. The massive use of the strike weapon by the trade unions, two failed attempts at monarchical restoration (1911 and 1912) and the divisions that arose within the republican party, contributed to accentuate the climate of instability. In 1915 General Pimenta de Castro established an ephemeral military regime, soon overthrown by a democratic revolution. After the resignation of Arriaga, replaced as president by BL Machado, Fr. entered the war against the Central Empires (1916), further aggravating its economic conditions. After the coup d’état of General Sidónio Pais (1917-18), the return to the parliamentary regime was not accompanied by an improvement in the internal situation and attempts at insurrections by the armed forces. In May 1926, General M. de Oliveira Gomes da Costa deposed Machado (re-elected in 1925) and set up a military junta, at the top of which he was soon replaced by General A.Ó. de Fragoso Carmona, President of the Republic from 1928 to 1951. Carmona called A. de Oliveira Salazar to the Ministry of Finance, who in a few years restored the financial situation. The prestige thus gained allowed him to assume the presidency of the Council in 1932 and to start a de facto dictatorship.

● On the level of international politics, the Salazarist regime supported the insurgents of F. Franco in the Spanish civil war, then proclaimed the neutrality of the Portugal at the outbreak of the Second World War. Having joined NATO in 1949, Portugal was admitted to the UN only in 1955.

● Internally, in the immediate post-war period, the regime allowed the reconstitution of political parties; however, thanks to the censorship of the press and the repressive action of the political police, the União nacional, the first single party, won all the legislative consultations and had F. Craveiro Lopes (1951) and A. Tomás (1958) elected to the presidency of the Republic.). The efforts to overcome the economic backwardness were thwarted by the progressive increase in military spending to maintain the colonial empire: the Indian possessions of Goa, Diu and Damão were lost in 1961, shortly afterwards the government had to face the national liberation movements in Angola, Portuguese Guinea and Mozambique. Struck by a cerebral hemorrhage in 1968, Salazar was replaced by M. Caetano, who continued its policy, while initiating a partial liberalization of the regime; while the continuation of the guerrilla warfare in the African colonies prevented the country’s economic development.

● On April 25, 1974 some progressive officers, gathered in the Movimento das Forças Armadas (MFA), deposed Caetano and President Tomás (‘carnation revolution’). In May, the former Chief of Staff AR de Spínola assumed the post of President of the Republic and in July a government of national unity was established, led by Colonel V. Gonçalves; Spínola was forced to resign in September 1974, replaced by General F. da Costa Gomes. While the divisions between the different components of the same left grew, the Gonçalves government launched a series of radical measures (initiation of the agrarian reform, nationalization of banks, insurance companies, oil and metallurgical industries), extended the suffrage to eighteen-year-olds and illiterate people and concluded the negotiations with the liberation movements of the African colonies, which reached independence by 1975. The elections for the constituent (1975), saw the affirmation of the Partido Socialista Português (PSP) and the leadership of the executive passed to Admiral J. Pinheiro de Azevedo. The 1976 elections gave the PSP a majority M. Soares, who went to the government. In the following years the socialists continued to play a decisive role in the political balance of the Portugal, alternating or in coalition with moderate and centrist forces, also several times at the helm of the executive. For Portugal history, please check historyaah.com.

● Despite the difficulties and the persistent presence of large areas of backwardness, the Portugal was admitted to the EEC (1986), ratified the Maastricht Treaty (1992), and in 1999 it joined the European Monetary Union. Parallel to the pro-European choice was the progressive revision, during the 1980s and 1990s, of the socialist principles that had inspired the ‘carnation revolution’. In economic policy, in fact, in those two decades, the reprivatization of nationalized basic industries, the drastic downsizing of public spending and welfare policies, resolving in a moderate sense the conflicts that had arisen on these issues even within the same forces. of left. A similar process of revision affected the institutional sphere: the abolition of the Council of the Revolution, the reduction of the powers of the president and finally, in 1988, the elimination from the Constitution of any reference to socialism represented the main stages of a downsizing of the control power of the military, who had been the architects of the revolution.

● After the victory of the Social Democrats in the 2002 elections, the Socialists returned to power following their success in the early consultations of 2005 and formed a government headed by J. Sócrates. However, in 2006 the Social Democrats imposed their candidate for the presidency of the Republic, A. Cavaco Silva, former head of the government. The socialist leadership was confirmed in the 2009 elections, but with a smaller majority, while in the consultations of June 2011 the Social Democratic party headed by Portugal Passos Coelho won 105 of the 230 seats, and Sócrates. Despite the worsening of the economic crisis, which in May 2013 led to a government reshuffle and the formation of a coalition led by the Social Democratic Party, thanks to very harsh austerity policies in May 2014, the country left the troika’s international bailout plan; the political consultations held in October 2015 confirmed the popular consent granted to government forces, with the victory of Coelho (38.3% of the votes, 104 out of 230 seats), who also lost an absolute majority, followed by the Socialist Party (32.4% and 85 seats).The minority government led by Coelho, who took office in November, was however disheartened a few days later by the left-wing parties, which voted against the austerity policy implemented since 2011 by the conservative coalition; in the same month, President Cavaco Silva appointed socialist leader A. Costa as prime minister, who he entrusted with the task of forming a new government, made up of an alliance between socialists, communists and the radical left. In January 2016, the former leader of the center-right Social Democratic Party M. Rebelo de Sousa was elected president of the country in the first round, with 52% of the votes, reconfirmed with 61% of the votes in the presidential elections in January 2021. In the European elections held in May 2019, Prime Minister Costa’s Socialist Party confirmed itself as the first party in the country with 33.8% of the votes, followed by the Social Democrats (22%) and the Left Bloc (9.5%). A similar result emerged from the political consultations held in the following October, with the Socialist Party obtaining 36.6% of the votes, but not the absolute majority,  followed by the Social Democrats (27.9%); in the same month the outgoing premier Costa was reconfirmed in the office, which he held until October 2021, when the Portuguese Parliament rejected the budget law proposed by the government with the vote against the left parties supporting the executive.

From 1 January to 30 June 2021 he chaired the Council of the European Union.

Portugal History - The Contemporary Age