The Advent of the Authoritarian Regime

The situation of political instability of the first Republic, aggravated by the participation in the I World War, and the following financial and economic crisis, led to a right wing military coup in 1926, which established a military dictatorship. The press began being censured and all liberties were diminished. This military dictatorship eventually evolved to become a regime with fascist tendencies. With the consolidation of Salazar in power in the beginning of the 1930´s, a new period was inaugurated. In 1933 a new constitution was drawn, erasing most of the social and political advances introduced by the Republic – the Estado Novo (New State), had began.


Portugal remained neutral in the II World War, but this neutrality tended, in fact, to the allied side (Britain first, and than the USA, were given facilities in the Azores). When the war ended, Portugal was a founding member of the NATO, and the regime was put under pressure by the allies to democratize itself. At first this seemed to work, but with the increasing of the Cold War and with the fear of communism infiltrating the western countries, the non-democratic but fiercely anti-communist Portuguese regime looked like a lesser evil and therefore western pressure on the regime was reduced.


Propaganda poster for the new constitution.
It reads: “Authority, Order and Social Justice, Vote for the New Constitution”.


“In 1946, TIME magazine published an article about Portugal. In it, the country was described as “a melancholy land of impoverished, confused and frightened people”. And Salazar was depicted as a living example of Lord Acton’s law of politics: “Power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely.” In the magazine’s cover, a rotten apple, next to Salazar, symbolically translated the message”.




voltar ao topo