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Antonio de Oliveira Salazar - History

Antonio de Oliveira Salazar - History

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Antonio de Oliveira Salazar

1889- 1970

Portuguese Dictator

Portuguese leader Antonio de Oliveira Salazar was born in a village near Lisbon in 1889. He studied law at Coimbra University, and became a professor of economics there. In 1926, he served as Finance Minister in the Portuguese government and two years later, was given dictatorial power over Portugal's economy. Salazar succeeded in bringing order out of chaos, and he became Premier in 1932. During World War II, he maintained a policy of Portuguese neutrality, but ensured that the country was friendly to the Allies.

After the war, Salazar instituted some domestic reforms. His later years in office were marked by the largely futile attempt to maintain the remnants of Portugal's overseas empire.


Salazar;: Portugal and her leader,

SALAZAR, ANTONIO (1889–1970)

The "Catholic dictator" of Portugal, Antonio de Oliveira Salazar led one of the longest dictatorships in twentieth-century Europe. In 1968 after he suffered a cardiovascular attack, he was removed from power. He died two years later.

The son of a modest rural family from Vimieiro, a village in central Portugal, Salazar had a traditional Catholic upbringing and completed most of his intellectual and political education before the First World War. He attended a seminary but abandoned the ecclesiastical path in order to study law at the University of Coimbra on the eve of the fall of the monarchy. A reserved and brilliant student, he led the best-known Catholic student organization in Coimbra, the Christian Democratic Academic Centre (Centro Académico de Democracia Cristã, or CADC). His friendship with the future cardinal patriarch of Lisbon, Manuel Cerejeira, dates from this period. He pursued a university career as a professor of economic law, and his only political activity during the liberal republic (1910–1926) took place within the strict limits of the social Catholic movement. He was one of the leaders of the Catholic Center Party (Centro Católico, or CC) and was elected as a deputy for them in the elections of 1921. With the early dissolution of parliament in July 1921, Salazar left his position as deputy, and returned to his academic life and a more discreet involvement in Catholic political circles. Nevertheless, he did not lose any opportunity to reaffirm his position as the country's leading specialist in finances, which eventually resulted in his being invited to join the first cabinet formed following the 1926 military coup. However, after noting that the political situation remained highly unstable, Salazar declined the invitation. He was asked again two years later, and this time he accepted, but only on condition that he receive important powers over the other ministries in order to resolve the dictatorship's budgetary crisis.

Between 1928 and 1932, the year in which he became prime minister, Salazar, with support from the Catholic Church and important sections of the armed forces, came to dominate them ilitary dictatorship. Benefiting from a new constitution, which was the product of a compromise between corporatism and liberalism that had been approved in a popular plebiscite in 1933, Salazar created a single party from above, designed to remain weak and elitist from the very outset. Its purpose was simply to ensure political control. It was used as a tool for the selection of members for the Chamber of Deputies and the local administration, as well as to provide some legitimacy in the regularly held "non-competitive elections."

Salazar was a master at manipulating this perverted rational-legal legitimacy, and he had little need to seek recourse in charismatic leadership in order to rise above the bureaucratic and governmental mediation between himself and the nation. The military origins of the regime ensured that his position remained linked to that of the president, General António Óscar de Fragoso Carmona (1869–1951), who had been elected in direct elections in 1928 and who retained the authority to dismiss any of his appointed officials, including Salazar.

The Portuguese New State became radicalized with the outbreak of the civil war in neighboring Spain in 1936. Some of the regime's organizations that had been inspired by the Fascists—for example, the paramilitary youth movement, Portuguese Youth (Mocidade Portuguesa, or MP), and the anticommunist militia, Portuguese Legion (Legião Portuguesa, or LP)—introduced elements of the cult of the leader. Nevertheless, the more traditionalist conservatism continued to dominate the majority of the written press, which was closer to the paternalistic "prime ministerial" model of dictatorial leadership. The Catholic Church, both by its influence within official institutions and by its powerful nucleus of autonomous institutions, was transformed into a powerful and complementary instrument of ideological socialization. Nationalism and "providence" both completed and introduced elements of diversity into the official discourse.

With its declaration of neutrality in 1939, the Portuguese dictatorship was able to survive the Second World War thanks mainly to the concessions it made to the Allied Powers and to the rapid onset of the Cold War. The development that most concerned Salazar about the new international order after 1945 was decolonization. At the beginning of the 1960s, the African nationalist movements began their armed struggle, which led to the outbreak of colonial wars in Portuguese West Africa (Angola), Portuguese East Africa (Mozambique), and Portuguese Guinea (Guinea-Bissau). Salazar died in 1970, convinced that he was still Portugal's leader. His regime was overthrown by a military coup in 1974.

Salazar of Portugal

In 1889 Antonio de Oliveira Salazar was born into a devout smallholding family of peasant origins. Showing that he had a studious and attentive mind, he was accepted by a seminary where he was thoroughly educated. The good monks found him studious, quiet and self-contained. He rose in education rapidly to become a lecturer at the University of Coimbra, where the elite of Portugal completed their education.

Politics did not seem to interest him as much as it did some others, though he did become a valuable member of a non-religious group which he represented as parliamentary candidate, during the epoch of the First Republic. Distinguished in Economics, he ascended under the dictatorship of General Carmona (1926 – 32). It was during the Thirties that he founded the Estado Novo which he dominated for thirty years or more. The policy was simple: abolition of other political parties and trade unions complete censorship, the maintenance of power in an all-powerful administration, and an insistence on the values of ‘God, Country and the family’. Needless to say, the centralized and authoritarian Estado Novo permitted the old elite to retain political and social control.

As Dictator, Salazar was ably supported by the feared army and especially the security police, known as the PIDE. His economic policies were the opposite of progressive however, surprisingly for a supposedly brilliant economist. Portugal rapidly became the poorest country in Europe with a Per Capita Income less than Turkey’s. But, as so often seems to happen, the landowning oligarchy became richer and richer. It is so often the same story. Salazar and his government, unabashed by poverty, refused to give up any of its African colonies.

The peculiar fact is that when Salazar was driven from power in 1968, the army that had been faithful to him refused to operate against the independence movements in the colonies. This led to the downfall of the regime. It is said that when he died in 1970 he still believed that he was dictator.


Salazar was born into a lower-middle class family in 1889 and would attend seminary school before later studying law at the University of Coimbra in 1910. He graduated in 1914 with distinction, specializing in financial and economic law. Salazar went on to become a professor of economics. Having been in his twenties at the time of the 5 October 1910 revolution that overthrew the Portuguese monarchy, Salazar would remember the political chaos and economic instability that would mark the period of the Portuguese First Republic. In the 1920s he began to get involved in political activism, and after the military coup of 1926 the new regime asked him to serve as Finance Minister. He reluctantly accepted, but was only in office for a short time before resigning due to the government not giving him enough power in conducting financial policy. It was not until 1928 that he accepted the offer again from President Oscar Carmona, who promised to give Salazar unrestricted power in that regard.

Within a year, Salazar stabilized the Portuguese economy, restored the value of its national currency and created a budget surplus, something nearly unheard of in Portugal. As military rulers came and went, Salazar remained and in 1932 would become appointed Prime Minister by Carmona. He established an authoritarian government and espoused traditional Catholic morality, being opposed to those he perceived as genuine fascists and National Socialists. Although not a monarchist, Salazar was nonetheless endorsed by exiled king Manuel II of Portugal. Salazar's new Estado Novo was created with the adoption of their new constitution in 1933. It eliminated political parties and created corporatist groups that represented the people's interest, in a guild-like system. This corporatist model was compared to fascism, but Salazar cracked down on those who were actual fascists and national socialists, disagreeing with them fundamentally. Likewise, there was also a crackdown on Marxists, as Salazar believed the communists wanted to destroy the family and the nation. Salazar kept Portugal out of World War II because of his critiques of Nazi Germany and because he was one of the few European continental leaders at the time that predicted the Allied Powers would win. It is recognized that Salazar's decision was crucial in keeping Francoist Spain out of the war and neutral as well. After the war, Salazar maintained the policy of continuing to maintain Portugal's colonial empire despite the rest of Europe beginning to accept the process of decolonization, which continued up until his stepping down in 1968. Portuguese forces successfully put down a series of insurgencies through effective light infantry, militia, and special forces operations, but the opposition to the Portuguese Colonial War grew. It was stopped after Salazar was no longer in office.

Antonio Salazar: A Quiet Autocrat Who Held Power in Portugal for 40 Years

An anomaly among modern dictators, Antonio de Oli veira Salazar exemplified the power of a negative personal ity. He was ascetic rather than exuberant aloof rather than gregarious professorial rather than demagogic understated rather than ostentatious. Yet he held Portugal in thralldom for more than 40 years, a rec ord of durability unmatched by Francisco Franco, Benito Mus solini or Adolf Hitler, his flashier Fascist counterparts and) good friends.

He accomplished this lest by pleasing the rich and conserva tive landowners, bankers and industrialists — the celebrated “hundred families” by spend ing up to 40 per cent of his country's budget on the armed forces by muzzling the press and the trade unions by oper ating an efficient security po lice that was not publicly blood thirsty by holding the economy notably stable and by keeping the mass of the nation's nine million people poor and illiter ate. (Per capita income, about $420 in 1967, was the lowest in Wetern Europe and illiteracy was the highest.)

His dedicated resistance to change in an era of social and political flux extended to Por tugal's colonies, euphemisti cally called “overseas prov inces,” whose combined popula tion totaled 13 million. Despite nationalist stirrings, Angola and Mozambique, Portugal's chief holdings in Africa, stayed se curely tied to the mother coun try. The presence of 100,000 troops in these territories (in 1968) helped, of course, to en force colonial rule. Moreover, since 1961, all Africans in Por tuguese territories held Portu guese citizenship.

A Distinction Drawn

A quiet autocrat who sedu lously avoided any personal ap peal to popular passions, Sala zar was nonetheless completely candid about his totalitarian ism. “The Portuguese must be treated as children: Too much too often would spoil them,” he once remarked, adding:

“The truth is that I am pro foundly antiparliamentarian. I hate the speeches, the ver bosity, the flowery, meaning less interpolations, the way we waste passion, not around any great idea, but just around futilities, nothingness from the point of view of the national good.”

On another occasion draw‐ ing a distinction between his dictatorship and Mussolini's, he said:

“Now obviously our dictator ship is similar to the Fascist dictatorship in its strengthen ing of authority, in the war which it declares on certain democratic principles, in its na tionalist character, in its main tenance of the social order. It is different, however in its methods of renovation. The Fascist dictatorship is leaning toward a pagan Caesarism.”

Austere Personal Life

For his part. Salazar pre ferred to work in harness with the dominant Roman Catholic Church, whose moralities and rectitudes he ardently shared. Indeed, Salazar's Portugal, on the surface, was a remarkably staid and straitlaced country and the dictator's simple and austere personal life, with its daily prayers and attendance at mass, was an example that he hoped his countrymen would follow.

Salazar frequently explained, in his dry, humorless voice, that his regime was based on “five values which it is nec essary to defend.” They were: God, country, authority, family and work.

He considered that education was above all the task of the family, and he believed that woman's most fruitful work was in the home. He also strongly disapproved of idle men, and those who became unemployed got meager insur ance benefits and were enlisted in public works projects.

Unlike some other strong men, Salazar eschewed circuses and bread to win the admira tion of his people (“One cannot charm and govern the crowds at the same time”) nor did he pamper them with increasing material prosperity. “There are no quick solutions where pov erty is concerned,” he remarked in 1968. Sound money he said, was more importan than “the unattainable aim” constantly rising living stand ards.

Firmness and patience wen his prescriptions, and he liked to quote Machiavelli as ob serving, “The maxim of wisp men of our day is to wait for the blessings of time.” Equally ardently, he shared the 16th century Italian's belief that au business of government was too important to leave to the governed.

“The great problems of na tions are not solved by the rank and file,” he once said, “but the elite around which the masses can group them selves.”

Salazar won the respect o an astonishingly diverse grout of statesmen. He was admired of course, by his fellow Fascist: and by white supremacist lead ers in Africa but also by liberal Britons. In the United States, he was praised by among others, Dean Acheson the former Secretary of State as “this remarkable man, the nearest approach in our time to Plato's philosopher‐king.” Mr. Acheson was struck, too by “the beauty of his hands [that were] appropriate to sensitive face.”

A Solitary Man

In Portugal Salazar was less rhapsodically regarded. His as sociates found him austere and solitary, a man who avoided close relationships. When he dismissed a minister it was with a brief note. “He finds this way easier on him,” an aide once explained.

He also tended to be brusque in dealing directly with sub ordinates. A minister once ar rived hatless for an interview, and at the end of the conversa tion Salazar rose and clamped his own homburg onto the man's head. “Ministers look better when they wear hats,” he remarked, sending the cul prit off visibly subdued.

“My life is my work.” Sala zar often said. It appeared to be true, for his life was frugal and without song, wives or mistresses. A bache lor, he lived in a two‐and‐a half‐story yellow painted stone house near sao Bento Palace, the Government seat in Lisbon. It was connected by a passage with a church where he often went to pray. Behind the 10‐ foot‐high whitewashed walls of the house was a garden of pines, palms and flowers. His only reported hobby was tend ing the flowers. Apart from a housekeeper, Salazar shared the house with two daughters, Maria Antonia and Micas, whom he adopted as babies more than 20 years ago.

Duties of state occupied him 12 hours a day or more, even into his late 70's. Describing his office in 1961, Mr. Acheson wrote:

“The room, of medium size, was lined on three sides with books and paintings above them, and furnished with desk and upholstered leather chairs. I saw no telephone, files, or papers on the desk, none of the humorous figures and framed mottoes in which Presidents Roosevelt and Tru man delighted. Everything was nonofficial, comfortable, simple and unpretentious.”

Opposition Divided

Although there was opposi tion to Salazar, it was divided and weak, a circumstance that permitted him to govern with supreme confidence. He for Jade strikes, ignored the intel lectuals and kept politics to a minimum. “There is no doubt le is convinced that God is on pis side,” a Lisbon businessman observed in 1968. And a West. ern diplomat believed that 40 ears of repressive tactics had educed most of the population to apathy. Lisbon, the capital of the Indiana‐size country, was, under his rule, an orderly, subdued city, full of quiet, somber, patient people.

Salazar was somber, too. After an interview in 1960, Toni Howard wrote in The Sat urday Evening Post:

“In a face almost transparent n its pallor, only the black eyes seemed alive and inter ested only the black eyes belied his 70 years. Everything else about him seemed faded and bloodless, from his sparse, neatly combed gray hair to his thin straight mouth to his long, loosely veined ascetic hands.” This grayness was character istic of the dictator's life from the outset. Antonio de Oliveira Salazar was horn April 28, 1889, at Vimieiro a village near Santa Comba Dão in Beira Alta province of northern Por tugal. His parents were Antonio and Maria Salazar, peasants and innkeepers. Ambitious for their offspring, they sent their four daughters and only son to literate neighbors for instruc tion until a village school was opened in 1899.

After a year Antonio quali fied for admission to a Jesuit seminary, where “the little priest,” as his mother termed him, studied until 1908. Al though the youth took prelimi nary orders, he decided after two years at Via Sacra Cal lege that his true vocation was education.

Period of Upheaval

He entered the University of Coimbra in 1910 at a time of revolutionary upheaval in the country. Republicanism was the order of the day, and King Manoel 11 was deposed as prelude to the introduction of parliamentary system modeled on Britain's. Political and eco nomic confusion ensued, which created a poor impression on the young university student.

Working his way by tutoring (“Tutoring did two things for me: It kept me in the univer sity and it kept me out of trouble”), Salazar received his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1914. He was promptly named to the I teaching staff, and by 1918 he was a full professor of eco nomics with two monographs —one on the gold Standard and the other on agriculture—to his credit. In 1918 he added an other degree—a doctorate in law.

Salazar edged into politics by helping to form the Cath olic Center party, which pro fessed the social principles of the 19th‐century papal encycli cal “Rerum Novarum.” And in 1921 he was one of three Cen trists elected to the Cortes, or Parliament. After one session, however, he resigned to return to academic life on the ground that parliamentary debates were exercises in futility.

When, in May, 1926, a mili tary coup overthrew the Gov ernment, the victorious gen erals asked Salazar, then rep uted to be an economic wizard, to take over the Ministry of Finance. He demanded a free hand to execute his reforms, and, this being refused, he went back to teaching.

Two years later, however. Gen. Antonio Oscar de Fragoso Carmona engineered his elec tion as President of Portugal, and he promptly put Salazar in charge of the nation's purse strings. By cutting public spend ing and by judicious taxation he succeeded, within a year, in balancing the budget for the first time since 1910. Shortly, too, he liquidated the foreign debt and lifted the escudo, the monetary unit, to a premium on foreign exchanges.

This feat gave him the levers of power, which he never relin quished. He formalized his po sition as strongman by becom ing Premier in 1932 and by drafting a constitution for his Estado Novo, or New State. Approved by a plebiscite in 1933, the charter proclaimed Portugal “a unitary and cor porative state.” In practice, there was one party—Salazar's —that was represented in the National Assembly. However, the President appointed the Premier, who named the Cabi net, which was not responsible to the Assembly.

In the early days of the new charter Salazar was both Pre mier and Finance Minister. In later years, and on an ad in terim basis, he also served as Foreign Minister, Minister of War and Minister for the Col onies. By decree he initiated a workmen's compensation law, a form of Social Security and public works projects. He also outlawed strikes, saying:

“Strikes are a crime. We are obliged to handle this matter with extreme harshness.”

Supporter of Franco

During the Spanish Civil War Salazar gave full support to Generalissimo Franco, whose Government he recognized in 1938. And in those years of ferment on the Iberian Penin sula he created a youth move ment along Hitlerian lines, principally to prepare youna stets for military service, and the Portuguese Legion, which was dedicated to combating in ternal Communism. These or ganizations, with the army, proved useful in putting down a popular outbreak in Lisbon just prior to World War II.

In the war he maintained neutrality at a very consider able profit to the country. The money came from Britain and the United States for use of the Azores Islands as naval and air bases. At the same time, Lisbon was the spy center for the Axis as well as the Allied powers, with both of which Portugal traded. After the war Portugal, although shunning the United Nations until 1955, joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in 1949.

The war created pressures in Portugal for some measure of democracy, and in 1945 Salazar, permitted opposition condidates to seek office. The Movimento, Unidade Democratica, a loose coalition, was quickly sup pressed, however, when it started to exhibit some strength and, in 1948, it was outlawed as a Communist front.

When President Carmona died in 1951, Salazar was of fered the Presidency, which he declined, saying he did not pos sess “the moral, nor, possibly, the physical strength to start a new life in a new office.” He remained as Premier, how ever, acting with undiminished vigor to counteract opposition at home and nationalism in the colonies. The latter broke into the open in 1961, when Por tugal possessed the Cape Verde Islands, Portuguese Guinea, An gola and Mozambique in Africa the Goa enclave in India Macao in China, and Timor in the South Pacific.

Incorporated Into India

The Goa enclave, which had been Portuguese for 400 years, was forcibly incorporated into India in December, 1961. Al though there were bitter pro tests, Portugal was obliged to accede to the fait accompli but there was no such acces sion in Africa.

A long and nagging insurrec tionist movement began in Angola, her largest (in area) possession in Africa in 1961. It was linked to a bizarre act of piracy that occurred in the Caribbean that January, when Lieut. Gen. Humberto Delgado, a disaffected Portuguese Air Force officer and unsuccessful candidate for President in 1958, directed the seizure of the Santa Maria, a Portuguese liner. General Delgado (he was murdered in 1965 in Spain un der mysterious circumstances) ordered the surrender of the vessel after 10 days, but not before the incident was used to highlight the guerrilla uprising in Angola.

To this revolt Salazar's re sponse was two‐pronged: to bomb the blacks into submis sion and to attempt to extirpate corruption and venality among their rulers and economic ex ploiters. Ultimately he was able to contain the revolt—or at least to maintain superficial order—by force of arms and by instituting some reforms.

The price was heavy. There was a pronounced strain on the budget from military costs. Moreover, at least 1,500 of ficers and soldiers were killed over the years. But Salazar was stubborn. “Portugal's rights in these territories,” he asserted, “derive from discov ery and from occupation of lands which were mostly un inhabited.”

‘Extension of Chaos’

Declaring in late 1967 that Lisbon would not accept the rule of Africans in Angola and elsewhere, he said:

“This principle could only lead to an extension of chaos in Africa and the return to former states of backwardness that one might consider to have been surpassed.”

The cost of suppressing Af rican nationalism was also ap parent at home. There was an abortive revolt in 1962 and a series of plots that came to nothing. The most serious re cent opposition was led by. Mario Soares. Salazar discorn filed his forces in 1968, how ever, and had him deported in definitely to the lonely equa torial island of Såo Tome.

Toward the close of his life Salazar, despite frequent stir rings of protest, seemed firmly in control. He disregarded his critics, serene in the conviction that he was guiding Portugal's destiny in her best interests. He was certain, in any case, that most of the world was moving too rapidly.

“Maybe my own function has been to serve as a brake against too much acceleration,” he‐remarked a couple of years ago. “It is not an unworthy role.”

The 'great' dictator

It is now a matter of historical consensus that Antonio Oliveira Salazar was a bad sort, ruling Portugal in an often brutal, repressive fashion for 36 years.

But that does not appear to have dampened his appeal in his native land.

The late dictator is the surprising top choice in a poll to find the greatest Portuguese national ever, winning an overwhelming 41% of the vote.

The event, closely modelled on the 2002 Great Britons survey that put Winston Churchill at the peak of the UK's national pantheon, was run by Portugal's state-owned RTP television, which asked viewers to choose people who had contributed to the greatness of the country's history.

Salazar, they said. Next came Afonso I, the 12th century founder and first king of Portugal, 16th century poet Luis Vaz de Camoes and another monarch, Dom Joao II.

The historical figure perhaps most familiar to non-Portuguese, Vasco de Gama, who discovered the sea route from Europe to India, was seventh, while Chelsea manager and self-proclaimed "special one" Jose Mourinho was 20th.

So why pick a man whose secret police, the PIDE, routinely used detentions without trial and torture and whose regime eventually imploded due to a series of unpopular colonial wars, two years after the dictator himself suffered a major stroke having fallen from a deckchair?

A similar poll in Germany saw postwar chancellor Konrad Adenauer come top, although broadcaster ZDF took no chances by banning votes for Hitler or former East German leader Erich Honecher.

In contrast, the people of Romania were allowed to vote for communist tyrant Nicolae Ceauşescu, but kept him down in 11th place.

More than a dozen countries have now carried out such votes, and the results range from the somewhat partisan - in the US, Ronald Reagan was reckoned a greater figure than Abraham Lincoln or Martin Luther King, while George W Bush was deemed the greatest living American in sixth - to Nelson Mandela's completely predictable win in South Africa.

A special mention to the much smaller Welsh equivalent, which not only put Tom Jones in third, but even found space in the top 100 for Velvet Underground cellist and avante garde music stalwart John Cale.

Biography of Antonio de Oliveira Salazar (1889-1970)

Politician and Portuguese ruler, born in Vimieiro (village of the municipality of Santa Comba Dão, district of Viseu) on April 28, 1889 and died in Lisbon on July 27, 1970. He/She led his country with full power between 1932 and 1968, and Novo, authoritarian and corporate governance system instituted in Portugal the so-called State.

Studies and academic dedication

He was the son of Antonio de Oliveira and María do Resgate Salazar, both farmers with few resources. After receiving primary education in his village, in 1900 he/she was sent to the Seminary of Viseu, with a view to a possible management. He/She received minor in 1908 orders, but soon abandoned ecclesiastical studies and decided to devote himself to private education in the College gives Via Sacra (religious school in the same city). He/She expressed a keen interest in pedagogy, inclination that led him in 1909 to a Conference on education.

Between 1910 and 1914 he/she studied law at the University of Coimbra, and in 1912 he/she participated in the reorganization of the academic center gives democracy Crista (academic centre of Christian democracy, CADC), who was a member since 1911, and whose headquarters had been destroyed by anti-clerical groups.Also collaborated in the journal of the Organization, the impartial (under the pseudonym of Alves da Silva) and Liberdade (freedom, Journal of Porto). In the reorganization activities collaborated, along with Salazar, Manuel Gonçalves Cerejeira, friend of seminar times - who was later appointed cardenal-arzobispo of Lisbon - and which at the time was President of the CADC, while Salazar became first Secretary of this organization.

After completing the Bachelor's degree Ph.d. (his thesis was or Agio do Ouro e A Questão Cerealifera, the trade in gold and the grain issue) and received outstanding ratings in both academic degrees.

In 1917 he/she was Assistant Professor in the Faculty of law of the University of Coimbra, and then Professor of economic science at the same University from 1918. They were already known some clues of his socio-political thought: moral limitations on the powers of the State, hierarchical organization, importance of education, integral life (political, civil, religious. ). In 1919, together with other teachers, he/she was temporarily suspended their magisterial functions have been accused of involvement in riots and monarchist propaganda ("monarchy of the North", Monsanto revolt) However, soon regained his Professorship, after publishing its statement to the record with the title of A Minha Resposta (my response), in which he/she declared that more important than the form of Government was a good political leadership, administrative competence and values of those responsible.

Political activity

The beginnings: the Catholic Center and the dissemination of his ideas

In 1921 he/she began his political activity to the elected Deputy by Guimaraes within the Catholic Centre Party (he was leader). Disgusted with the parliamentary activity, he/she left that position immediately and returned to the University. He/She devoted four years to expose his social and economic ideas in various congresses (Catholic Congress in Porto, April 1922 Congress of industrial and commercial associations in Lisbon in December 1923. Eucharistic Congress of Braga, July 1924 Luso-espanol Congress for the advancement of science) and in the journal news, always on behalf of the Catholic Center.

Against the royalist Catholic, was supporter of the acceptance of the Republic: "We, Catholics, have, first, the duty of obedience to the powers, authorities, laws and those authorities issued orders". Deeply influenced by the French Maurras, he/she reaffirmed his ideas about the necessity of having a good state administration (which did not exist then according to their opinion), always without imposing deeper human issues. For him, the society was a whole. In 1925 he/she returned to stand for election, now as a candidate by Arganil, but was not elected. However, had the support of some political sectors (Catholic connoisseurs of Church social doctrine promulgated by Leo XIII, the functionalists who supported competent Governments, advocates of political reforms that would strengthen the State) and social (traditionalist middle class, rural classes).

The Ministry of finance to the Presidency of the Council of Ministers

On May 28, 1926 the general Gomes da Costa downed the Portuguese Government and he/she headed a new one (opponent of the Democratic-Republican Party) along with other two soldiers, Mendes Cabeçadas and Fragoso Carmona. Salazar May 30 was appointed Minister of Finance (finance), the 2nd Government, chaired by Mendes Cabeçadas. Days later, on June 17, ended its functions to do with the power Gomes da Costa, which remained until July 9, time in which Carmona obtained sole control.

Salazar had opportunity to present your action project with the Government of the country. Returned to his chair, he/she returned to be required for tasks of Government on April 26, 1928, again as Finance Minister. Due to mismanagement which carried out successive headlines of this portfolio between 1926 and 1928, which borrowed the country and placed it on the edge of the foreign dependence (in 1927 had been requested a loan to the League of Nations, which imposed the guardianship of the Organization on the Portuguese economy in Exchange for the loan), obtained special powers that had already applied in 1926 for his performancenow specified in conditions of financial reform. According to them, to balance budgets could limit spending of all ministries, departments and, indirectly, of the municipalities in this way he/she controlled all Government work. In return, earmarked budgets to productive activities, according to its application scheme: achieving financial balance, which would stabilize the currency and increase production, achieving thus confront in conditions policy (strengthening of the State, administrative centralization, suppression of Parties) and social issues (good economic organization, public order).

In 1929 he/she had made disappear the deficit, increased gold reserves and balanced imports and exports. Developed in support of the military regime, the following year received, without abandoning the portfolio of finance, the Ministry of colonies, but only provisionally: the Colonial Charter enacted in his short work in this Ministry. The same year, in the speech of the 4th anniversary of the dictatorship national, attacked the parliamentary "demagogy", and then developed a full programme of government reforms. Its sources were the thomism and the social doctrine of the Church, and certain statism (without reaching totalitarianism) and consideration of the history of Portugal the aim was the establishment of a strong and corporate State. It began to put into practice these ideas on July 5, 1932, when was appointed President of the Council of Ministers (Prime Minister) by President Carmona.

Promoter of the State corporate Novo

After taking possession of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers, he/she commissioned a draft Constitution which was approved in a referendum on March 19, 1933, and which finally promulgated on 11 April. This meant the institution of the Novo corporate, authoritarian State politically, and interventionist in social and economic, and that appealed to the national solidarity, presided over by the State to overcome partisan conflicts. It was supported by the União Nacional (National Union), existing party since 1930 and legalized in 1932, who was a member of Catholic, monarchist and nacional-sindicalistas, and ended by identifying with the structure of the State as a single party, which Salazar was also President.

Months later, already in 1933, it supplemented the Constitution with the status do Trabalho Nacional ('status national labour') and the national trade unions ('national unions'). Also in 1933 created police surveillance and defense do Estado ('police surveillance and defense of the State', PVDE) and the Secretariat da Propaganda Nacional ('Secretariat of national Propaganda'), entrusted to António Ferro. Through these measures, strengthened the means of repression, not need application support (which however had at the moment) through votes.

One of the members of the regime, the nacional-sindicalista, was away from the Government to be exiled its leaders after an uprising failed in 1935. In 1936, started the Spanish Civil War (which had great effect in Portugal), assumed new powers to take charge of the ministries of war (until 1944) and Foreign Affairs (Negócios Estrangeiros, until 1947), which added to the portfolio which already possessed of the Treasury (until 1940): from the portfolio of war reorganized the Portuguese army. On May 19 of the same year created the patriotic organizations Mocedade Portuguesa (Portuguese youth), and on September 30 the Legião Portuguesa (Portuguese Legion).

Opposition and support for his Government. His domestic and foreign policy

1933-1945: the authoritarian State

In the Decade of the thirties there was active opposition to his regime by some political sectors, in 1934, 1935 and 1936, there were several revolts: in 1936 organized by sailors from ships Afonso de Albuquerque and Dao, in support of the Spanish Popular Front, after which was created the Portuguese Legion in 1937 a group of anarchists did explode a bomb in its path, while it suffered wounds. Salazar was able to save the reply in these sectors thanks to the popular fear of extreme changes, in view of the tense of the international situation. Also in the 40, there was some opposition from the Portuguese Communist Party (PCP) and others (Republicans, Socialists), but never with enough revolutionary force.

In the corresponding period to the second World War (1939-1945) enjoyed great stability, except for the successive strikes in 1942, 1943 and 1944. It had the support of the military, rural and urban middle classes, and also with the support of part of workers and employers. He/She had good relations with the Catholic Church, and on May 7, 1940 signed in Rome a missionary agreement and a Concordat with the Holy See.

He supported the 1936 military uprising in Spain and recognized the Government of general Franco in April 1938. In March of the following year with this signed a Treaty of friendship, in virtue of which was the Iberian block. In February 1942 he/she met with Spanish dictator in Seville, which possibly influenced to not support form armed to the nazi Germany. It also kept the Portuguese neutrality in the second world war, but when it disappeared the risk of German invasion (1943), allowed the establishment of important bases allied in Azores Islands in coherence with the traditional friendship with England (was even named doctor Honoris causa by the University of Oxford in April 1941).

1945-1968: "organic democracy"

After the second world war, opponents Salazar showed more activity: had been organized in 1944 in the Movimento de Unidade Nacional Antifascista ('movement of national antifascist unity', MUNAF) and then in the Movimento de Unidade Democrática ('movement of democratic unity', MUF). Although it was a very critical for the continuity of the regime of Salazar, the legislative elections of 1945 and 1949 (the candidacy of opposition was represented by Norton de Matos) and support allied to Portugal (to avoid the Soviet influence) silenced the disagreements. In July 1949 he/she managed the entry of Portugal into NATO.

In 1951, when he/she died the President Carmona, he/she temporarily held office until the election of Craveiro Lopes (August 9). Oxcar their growth plans during the war by the lack of raw materials and machinery and the disruption of trade during the post-war - period called "organic democracy" - encouraged plans new economic development: the Portuguese currency balance, the shield and, very especially, empowerment of the industry and financial sectors. However, this development was slow development Neither corporatism was effective in the fair redistribution of goods. On the occasion of the presidential election of 1958 was particularly problematic the candidacy of general Humberto Delgado, who brought unhappy: elected to the end in those official candidate, Américo Thomaz, Delgado did not accept the results by manipulation of the regime and led the most active opposition to Salazar. In 1961 he/she organized with help of Henrique Galvâo assault the barracks of Beja and the Portuguese ship Santa María, to raise the world's attention, and in 1965 it was finally killed in ambush in Spain by the Portuguese political police, the requests (international police and defense do Estado, ' international police and defense of the State ').

To avoid similar situations, Salazar reformed the Constitution in 1959 to replace the direct election of the President by a restricted electoral college (system applied in the 1965 elections, last of the period of Government of Salazar). Also in the 1960s, another of its main centers of attention was the foreign policy It resumed the portfolio of Defense (April 1961) to try, in the midst of the current descolonizadora, the maintenance of the Portuguese colonies, although this mission was a task of great difficulty. Thus, at the end of 1961 is could not avoid the occupation of Damago, Diu and Goa by the Indian army. The Constitution of Angola, Mozambique, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, São Tomé e Príncipe and East Timor in overseas provinces did not prevent serious armed uprisings that occurred in some of these territories (in Angola, since 1961 in Guinea since 1963 in Mozambique since 1964) also it was pressed by several African countries, and the UN recommended action against Portugal until will not withdraw them. Meanwhile, he/she continued the surveillance system that had been imposed on the country.

Departure from the Government and disappearance of the regime

In September 1968, he/she suffered a stroke that kept him in a hospital until February 1969. Without having regained full movement, died at his home in Lisbon in July 1970. Since the beginning of his illness had been replaced as President of the Council of Ministers by Marcelo Caetano, who maintained the Estado Novo, established by Salazar to the Carnation Revolution of April 25, 1974, promoted by a group of young officers and seconded by much of the army. With full powers, was characterized by its decision and consistency in the action of Government However, it was austere habits, and didn't like public appearances features of the rulers of other regimes that was inspired, as the Italian fascist Mussolini.


CAETANO, M. Minhas memories of Salazar. (Lisbon, 1977).

Illustrated dictionary gives history of Portugal. Vol. 2. (Estella, Alpha, 1986).

Luso-Brasileira encyclopedia of culture. Vols. 16 and 21. (Lisbon Verb, 1964-1991).

KAY, H. Salazar and Modern Portugal. (London, 1970).

MATTOSO, j. (dir.). History of Portugal. Vol. 7: "Or been Novo (1926-1974)". (Lisbon Stamp, 1994).

NOGUEIRA, F. Salazar. 6 vols. (Coimbra-Oporto, 1977-1985).

SALAZAR, A. O.. Speeches and political notes. 6 vols. (Coimbra, 1935-1967).

Everything for Portugal: the Life of Antonio de Oliveira Salazar Part 2

Salazar was not the only one who recognized the drawbacks of the Republic. In 1926, military officers and civilians from a wide variety of political leanings agreed to work together to establish a more stable government. General Gomes da Costa was chosen to lead the uprising, and a strategy was formed, to be executed on the twenty-eighth of May. While da Costa would lead his men to secure the north, another general, Óscar Carmona, would secure the south. The plan went smoothly meeting hardly any resistance (1). But compared with establishing a new government, overthrowing the old was the easy part. A third general, Mendes Cabeçadas, insisted that he be part of the new government as well, and between the three of them, they divided the ministries. But they were all afraid of each other, and each didn’t want either of the other two to have too much power. The final settlement was that Cabeçadas would be Prime Minister, as well as Minister of the Interior da Costa would be Minister of War and Minister of Overseas Territory and Carmona would be Minister of Foreign Affairs. There was one ministry left, and when they agreed that none among themselves would have it, they invited Salazar to be Minister of Finance. They based this decision both on his work as a professor at Coimbra and on the many articles he had written (2).

Although Salazar often wrote about politics, he did not want to get involved in it again. He feared it would only be more of the same useless bickering he had seen when he appeared in Parliament, but he decided to accept the generals’ invitation. When he arrived, he found the Republicans and Monarchists—who had marched side-by-side just weeks earlier—once again arguing fiercely. The military itself was unsatisfied with the generals’ government, and threatened action if the promises the generals had made them remained unfulfilled. Salazar also learned exactly how fiscally irresponsible the Republic had been. Portugal was deeply in debt, and as long as it remained so, had no hope of establishing a lasting government. Salazar approached all three generals directly and demanded that he be given control over all spending, and that any legislature which concerned finances have his approval before it became law. The generals refused, and Salazar resigned. He only spent five days in office, from June eleventh to June sixteenth (3).

The military government did not appear as though it would last much longer, as Salazar predicted. By July, da Costa and Cabeçadas were both deposed, and Carmona became president. Stability remained elusive (4). Despite that, Carmona managed to stay in power for a while longer.

Although Salazar had left government, he did not stop writing about it. On March 28, 1927, Salazar wrote that one can neither regard material wealth as the chief end, nor disregard it altogether. Wealth must come through hard work, and consumption should be regulated by man’s moral, physical, and intellectual development. Judicious saving was also necessary. In short, he proposed a morality of consumption. The money should not be spent rashly, or on frivolous items. It should be put to good use, a use that would benefit man not only materially but spiritually as well (5).

Throughout Portugal, the situation was barely improved. Riots continued, as they had throughout the years of the Republic, resulting in hundreds of people injured, killed, or exiled (6). In Lisbon, Carmona realized that Portugal was indeed running out of money. He requested from the League of Nations a £12,000,000 loan. The League agreed, on the condition that Portuguese finances were given over to international control. Clearly, the League thought, Portugal was unable to be responsible with money. But the Portuguese could not swallow this insult to their competence, and Carmona searched for any other way out of the pending catastrophe. Remembering that Salazar had claimed the ability to improve Portugal’s finances, Carmona once again invited the professor (7). Salazar asked for a night to think it over. He spent it in kneeling in prayer. In the morning, he talked with his good friend Cerejeira and served at Mass. Then he returned to Carmona’s messenger, telling him that he would once again accept the invitation. Salazar arrived in Lisbon on April 27, 1927 (8).

Once more in the position of Minister of Finance, Salazar made four demands: each government department was not allowed to spend more than the Ministry of Finance allocated it anything affecting receipts and expense must be discussed with the Ministry of Finance before any action was taken the Ministry of Finance would be able to veto any expense that did not have the necessary credit operations and the Ministry of Finance would collaborate with everyone else in the government to reduce expenses and increase revenue. Describing his goals to the Portuguese people in his first official speech, Salazar admitted that reaching the goal of financial stability was a long way off and would be a struggle for the entire country. While he expected the people to obey, he stated that they were free to study, suggest improvements to, object to, and discuss his plan (9).

Two weeks after being instated as Minister of Finance, Salazar issued his economic principles. Unity of the budget: there would be a single total of receipts and a single total of expenditures, to more easily see the accuracy of the balance. Ordinary expenditure would be completely covered by ordinary revenue this way, Salazar would not have to worry about always running a deficit. Extraordinary expenditure would be severely restricted. The request of loans would be highly limited. Employees would only receive their pay after they had completed their work. Heads of departments would be responsible for any unauthorized expenditure and would suffer the consequences. The State would never subsidize any private enterprise such enterprises would have to gain all their funding from other sources. Ad valorem taxes, such as property and sales taxes, would be suppressed, as they were redundant, granted the taxes levied on a product when it was produced. Salazar would defend the budget against oversea demands for more money. The local governments would also be expected to have their ordinary revenue cover their ordinary expenditure (10).

Benefits of a Balanced Budget

On July 31, 1927, Salazar presented his first budget—with an expected surplus of 1,576 contos (the Portuguese currency one thousand escudos equaled one conto). Taxes increased, and only the most essential public works, such as roads, were authorized. Every single budget between 1927 and 1940 was balanced. By 1940, Portugal had a total surplus of 2,000,000 contos, or £20,000,000 (11). When the Great Depression caused depreciation of the escudo and a drop in ordinary revenue, Salazar stabilized ordinary revenue and slowly increased extraordinary revenue (revenue that was only collected once rather than repeatedly occurring). Using this new money, he improved schools, hospitals, roads, harbors, agriculture, housing, and the military (12). By 1934, all of Portugal’s floating debt was paid off, and Salazar tied the escudo to the gold standard. In fact, Salazar had stabilized Portugal’s budget so well that there was no longer any need to borrow from other countries. Portugal paid her remaining debt punctually in regular intervals. In 1936, Salazar launched a fifteen-year plan: six and a half million contos to be spent on the military, afforestation, agricultural hydraulics, and education. Four years later, 1,111,603 contos had been spent, 513,898 of it on the military. Only one fifth of those million contos was raised by loan (13).

As a way of encouraging all Portuguese to adopt his prudent monetary policies, Salazar calculated average tax returns, rather than actual returns. With this system, the state had a more accurate idea of its income. He encouraged initiative in business and discouraged bad management. As an example, Salazar agreed to overlook minimal tax evasion, provided that it allowed increased production. The way he saw it, the tax revenue that would come from the increased production would outweigh the revenue had he completely enforced the tax law (14).

The benefits Portugal enjoyed from the first eleven years of Salazar’s policies were easily seen. Thirty-five hundred miles of roads were repaired, along with one thousand miles of new roads built. Telephone lines were extended to more remote areas. Historic monuments were repaired, to link the present—which looked forward to the future—with the past. Fountains and washing-places were built in all the villages. By 1938, Portugal was very nearly agriculturally self-sufficient. The industry continued improving, and the banks were trusted (15).

In order to facilitate all these improvements, Salazar had to unite the will of the people. To this end, he established the União Nacional on June 30, 1930. It was not a political party, but rather was intended to bind all the sections of the community in a corporative movement. Republicans, Freemasons, and Communists all tried to revolt at different times, but these were repressed (16). The largest obstacles were a lack of confidence and, inertia, as well as defeatism in general, and some critics in particular. Cunha Leal, one of the fiercest critics, claimed that Salazar was poorly chosen, and had even made a pact with the Devil (17). While Salazar accepted constructive criticism, Leal failed to give Salazar any suggestions, other than to resign immediately. Naturally, Salazar ignored him.

A new constitution passed by referendum on March 19, 1933. It was constructed specifically to fit Salazar’s corporative ideas, though provisions were made for amendments. Most men and some women (specifically university graduates and heads of families) had the right to vote, but a third of the registered voters abstained. The rest, minus a few thousand, voted in favor of the new constitution (18). Even if all those abstentions had been “no” votes, the constitution would still have been approved by the people. The constitution was based in the idea that order and power were founded by God. He was the one who gave it to others, who must then use it in accordance with His will. The legitimacy of the government depended on the common good. If the people prospered, the government was legitimate if they suffered needlessly, the government was no good at all.

The Estado Novo, or New State (as many called Salazar’s Portugal), was primarily corporative. The State represented the people, who contributed to the State through corporations, which were fashioned after medieval guilds. Political discussion happened at a round table, rather than across the table. Within a common political faith, there was plenty of room for divergence and beneficial debate (19).

The National Assembly was the legislative branch of the government, elected from and by the people. Advising the National Assembly was the Corporative Chamber, a group of representatives from each corporation. Salazar wanted the Corporative Chamber to have more of a say in the legislation, perhaps even fully replace the National Assembly. But the reluctance of the Portuguese to change forced him to take things more slowly, and the Corporative Chamber never fully realized his goals (20).

Despite Salazar’s efforts to make the Portuguese welcome the Novo Estado, dissenters still arose. Dr. Rolão Preto founded a National-Syndicalist movement and demanded President Carmona give all political freedom of press and propaganda. Carmona refused, and Salazar persuaded some of the National-Syndicalists to abandon their ideas, but Preto had to be deported to Spain. As a way of preventing any more dissenters from causing trouble, Salazar established the Portuguese Legion as a voluntary Home Guard, to unite the men of a community in a spirit of fraternity and service. The Moçidade Portuguesa was similar, aimed toward boys. Salazar disliked all kinds of internationalism and banned the International Boy Scouts. The Moçidade Portuguesa filled the role, with a heavy emphasis on service for the community (21).

All in all, Salazar considered politics to be of secondary importance. The country’s well-being would not come from politics, but from each individual leading a habitual and balanced life. At the core of life, Salazar desperately wanted everyone to understand, were spiritual considerations. These superseded politics and were the end goal of everything done in life (22).

1. Hugh Kay, Salazar and Modern Portugal, Hawthorn Books, Inc., © 1970 pp. 36-37
2. Ibid, p. 38
3. Ibid, p. 39
4. Ibid, pp. 39-40
5. Ibid, p. 40
6. Ibid, p. 41
7. FCC Egerton, Salazar: Rebuilder of Portugal, Hodder & Stoughton, Ltd., © 1943, p. 122
8. Kay, p. 41
9. Egerton, pp. 123-124
10. Ibid, pp. 124-125
11. Ibid, p. 125
12. Ibid, p. 126
13. Ibid, p. 128
14. Ibid, p. 130
15. Ibid, pp. 133-134
16. Kay, p. 48
17. Egerton, pp. 134-135
18. Kay, pp. 48-49
19. Ibid, p. 51
20. Ibid, pp. 52-53
21. Ibid, p. 50
22. Filipe Ribeiro de Meneses, Salazar: A Political Biography, Enigma Books, © 2009, pp. 84-85

Everything for Portugal: the Life of Antonio de Oliveira Salazar Part 3

Many critics, both during Salazar’s life and after his death, accused Salazar of being a fascist dictator. But there were significant differences between the Portuguese nationalism that Salazar encouraged and the German nationalism that Hitler manipulated. Portuguese nationalism was never aggressive Salazar had no dreams of conquering Spain and uniting Iberia, let alone all of Europe. He merely wanted to continue the Portuguese legacy. Nor did Salazar proclaim the Portuguese legacy as the best legacy in the world. It was Portuguese and should last as long as the Portuguese themselves lasted (1). Other differences included a lack of charismatic leadership (Salazar disliked giving speeches, and never gave the stereotypical Roman salute, though his supporters often offered it), a lack of a single-party government (technically speaking, it was a no-party government), and no tendency towards totalitarianism (Salazar tolerated critics if they were merely angry, and listened to them if they offered suggestions) (2). The accusations were not entirely unfounded, however. Salazar centralized decision-making into a few hands (of which his own had the most power), and ensured the government had a clear hierarchy to enforce the decisions. Unfortunately, the lower classes did not immediately accept Salazar’s corporatism, seeing it as a variation of Communism. Salazar had no choice but to use the government to enforce the corporative ideas, which only made Portugal appear more fascist (3).

In 1936, Spain, Portugal’s closest neighbor, dissolved into a civil war between the Republicans, led by Francisco Largo Caballero, and the Nationalists, led by Francisco Franco. Salazar could not ignore Spain’s chaos, and if he simply sat by and watched, it might very well infect Portugal, as well. His options were to support the Republicans, balkanize Spain, or support Franco. Salazar dismissed the first idea the Republicans were clearly Communist, receiving their propaganda, training, and equipment directly from the Soviet Union. He dismissed the second, as well if each region of Spain was granted independence, then they would fall to infighting, and Portugal would lose a potential ally. The only option left, the only option that guaranteed a strong, united Spain favorable to Portugal, was to support Franco and the Nationalists. Hopefully, Salazar thought, Franco would be able to resist Hitler’s offers of alliance, while also preventing the Republicans from opening Iberia (4).

As the war developed, various nations grew interested in the progress. France made an effort to covertly send the Republicans aid through Mexico, while Germany and Italy moved to aid the Nationalists. Great Britain, acting at the time as the world’s policeman, feared that the Spanish Civil War could very well escalate into a world war, and discouraged everyone from getting themselves involved. While Portugal’s hands were tied by her ancient alliance with Great Britain, Salazar did allow the Germans to send aid through Portugal. He also allowed Portuguese soldiers to cross the border and fight for the Nationalists, and gave Franco any Communists he caught trying to escape through Portugal. Great Britain noticed these actions, and expressed her worry that should the Nationalists win, Hitler would gain a valuable ally. Salazar assured them that a Communist victory would be far worse (5).

Seeing how many nations were taking sides in Spain, France suggested everyone sign a non-intervention pact. France, Portugal, Russia, Germany, Italy would all have to cut their aid and simply watch as events played out. Salazar could not accept this. Should the Communists win, Portugal would be next on their list, and Salazar feared the results of such an invasion. Far better, he thought, to ensure that it never happened. To that end, he refused to sign any kind of non-intervention pact. Everyone except France refused as well, for their own reasons (6).

September of 1936 proved Salazar’s concerns to be well-founded. The crews of two Portuguese warships locked up their officers and set sail for Spain to join the Republicans. As soon as Salazar learned of this, he ordered those warships to be destroyed. He also required all soldiers and public servants to repudiate Communism and all such ideas (7). He would not risk them becoming any more widespread than they already were.

Great Britain watched as the Spanish Civil War edged closer and closer to a global conflict. In an effort to defuse the situation and end the war, Great Britain proposed that Germany, Italy, Portugal, and Russia work together with the few Spaniards who had stayed neutral to set up a Spanish government that wouldn’t side with anybody. All the nations concerned agreed to this proposal, but pointed out that the Spanish who weren’t neutral would object, and start another war against the coalition-formed government. The proposal would solve nothing, and so was dropped (8).

In the spring of 1937, Franco and the Nationalists had gained a clear advantage. Great Britain continued advocating for non-intervention and an armistice, but at this point, Salazar thought they were simply trying to buy the Republicans more time. Relations between Portugal and Great Britain worsened, and Great Britain first started calling Portugal fascist and unrepresentative. For his part, Salazar continued trying to persuade the British that a Nationalist victory would truly be the preferable outcome. When Salazar sent a special agent to Salamanca, the Nationalist capital, on November 20, 1937, Great Britain nearly panicked, thinking that through such an action, Salazar was recognizing the Nationalist government as the legitimate Spanish government. At that time, Salazar reassured the British, but on April 28, 1938, he did officially recognize the Nationalists as Spain. The Republicans were no longer in control of a majority of the county, but the Nationalists brought order and stability (9).

Even as the relationship between Portugal and Great Britain deteriorated, the relationship between Portugal and Spain grew stronger. Salazar’s special agent, Dr. Pedro Theotónio Pereira, became the ambassador to Spain, and Franco sent his own older brother, Don Nicholás, as ambassador to Portugal. Both Salazar and Franco realized that the threat of a world war still loomed large, and that as things currently stood, Great Britain would call on Portugal, and Germany would recruit Spain. Both Salazar and Franco didn’t want this outcome, and so pushed for an Iberian Pact, that would unite their countries in a firm friendship, no matter what happened in the rest of the world. On March 17, 1939, the two leaders—one could say Iberian brothers—signed the Iberian Pact. Great Britain finally relented and recognized Franco’s government as legitimate. But Franco also signed the Anti-Comintern Pact, and Salazar felt slightly betrayed that Franco would feel so comfortable with Hitler. Great Britain at once seized the opportunity to berate Salazar for supporting Franco all along, but Salazar held his ground, and defended Franco despite his own misgivings. When Germany eventually invaded Poland, Spain and Portugal both declared official neutrality. Salazar was vindicated—for the moment (10).

Even in the first years of World War Two, Salazar saw no good outcome. A German victory would be disastrous for everyone, and Great Britain could not win alone. On the other hand, an unconditional German surrender would only benefit the Soviet Union, giving them even more territory in Europe (11). The Baltic countries were out of the war right from the start, and even if the Western countries made an effort to revive them after Germany’s defeat, the Communists would easily overrun them again. As regarded Portugal, Salazar was determined not to repeat the mistakes of the Napoleonic Wars and World War One. In the first, Portugal had become a battleground, and the country never fully recovered until Salazar himself finally set things to rights. In the second, Portugal had sent an expeditionary force to the Western Front, which was promptly decimated. Germany never bothered Portuguese Africa, being far more concerned by the British and French in the area. Portugal lost a large portion of her army, and even though she was among the victors, never received her share of the victory profits. Salazar devoted himself to a study of Portuguese diplomacy during World War One, so as to know more clearly what not to do. He also regarded himself as the only one capable of making competent decisions that would keep Portugal out of the war, and so persuaded President Carmona to appoint him not only Prime Minister, but also Foreign Minister and War Minister. Portuguese ambassadors no longer had any power to act on their own volition, but merely collected information which was relayed to Salazar. Salazar then decided what the best action was and instructed his ambassadors accordingly (12). While Salazar kept a firm control over what happened, it often took time to give instructions, and in that time, the situation might have changed.

Staying neutral was a tricky game, especially when the world was so tense. Salazar determined that Portugal would refuse every offer Great Britain made to get them to join the war, unless Great Britain couched it in the terms of the ancient alliance formed between Great Britain and Portugal in 1386. Not that that would have made the decision any more palatable to Salazar but Salazar was Portuguese, and to the Portuguese, alliances were a matter of honor (13). But he also feared the affect the war would have on the Portuguese people as a whole, so he censored the papers so as not to offend any belligerent countries, for fear they would declare war. The plan backfired, however, when the monarchist paper accused the national paper of germanophilia. Salazar also utilized secret police and learned from them worrying rumors. Great Britain might be planning to coup Salazar, either through World War One veterans partial to democracy, or by helping Dom Duarte—the legitimate pretender to the Portuguese throne—regain his rightful position in exchange for Portugal’s aid in the war. In general, the Portuguese people as a whole were greatly alarmed by the tension, and demanded Salazar to show himself and explain things, or at least give them a few words of comfort. Never a man for speeches, Salazar said very little, and made sure that what he did say could not be construed to be pro-Allies or pro-Axis. Consequently, it was construed as both. Lisbon became a pamphlet battleground, as German propaganda began infiltrating Portuguese media. The propaganda declared that democracies were the enemy of the Novo Estado, primarily because the Novo Estado was not a democracy. Although Salazar used the censorship to block Communist propaganda, he was afraid to do the same against the Nazi propaganda, for fear that Germany would declare war (14).

The year 1940 should have been a year of wonderful celebration in Portugal. It was the eight hundredth anniversary of the birth of Portugal in 1140, the three hundredth anniversary of Portugal’s restoration of independence in 1640, and Salazar had just signed a concordat with the Catholic Church, returning to it many freedoms it had lost during the years of the chaotic Republic. But the war overshadowed all this. How could the Portuguese celebrate where they had been when they had no idea where they were going (15)?

Salazar spent a great deal of his time studying Germany’s proposed New Order. Some documents suggest that he favored the idea on account of how often he discussed it with the German ambassador. Nothing could be further from the truth. What he learned disturbed him. All of Europe would be consolidated, and production would be distributed between all areas of Europe. The smaller countries would lose their self-determination, as the larger countries took center stage. By September of 1941, Salazar was convinced that the New Order would only allow industrial nations to exploit agricultural nations (16). Naturally, Salazar was unable to favor such a plan. Portugal herself was an agricultural nation and would become one of the first victims of the New Order if Germany won the war.

Like many of the neutral nations in Europe, Portugal was swarming with refugees. The secret police did their best to keep track of them but did not arrest them. Mercifully, Salazar housed them in tourist hotels (which were largely empty). He never rounded them up into refugee camps. Even if he wanted them to leave and stop taxing Portugal’s resources, Salazar was determined to treat the refugees well (17). When France capitulated in June of 1940, Aristides de Sousa Mendes, the Portuguese consul in Bordeaux, wrote thousands of visas for the refugees desperate to escape. This action was of his own volition, and when Salazar learned of it, he requested Mendes to stop. Accepting these refugees was the same as inviting Germany to invade, as Salazar saw it. Mendes refused to listen, and Salazar eventually dismissed him from his post. As for the refugees, they were for a while stuck on the border between Spain and Portugal. Spain refused them, on the grounds that they were heading to Portugal Portugal refused them, on the grounds that their visas were invalid. Finally, Salazar relented, and accepted the refugees. No matter how dangerous it was, he realized that he could not leave them as a hoard of will-o’-the-wisps. Mendes was put on trial, and defended his actions in humanitarian, historical, and practical concerns. Despite this, Salazar still prevented Mendes from having any political post in the future. Once again, Salazar justified his decision with the threat of a German invasion. He wanted to help the refugees but feared German reprisal (18).

Even within the different departments of the Novo Estado, people were swayed by both sides of the war. Great Britain continued giving its official support for Salazar and the Novo Estado, but the Portuguese secret police preferred Germany. In 1942, they discovered and disbanded a British organization that would have performed a great deal of sabotage in the event that Germany subjugated Portugal. Although Great Britain was surely displeased by this, it did not hinder British-Portuguese cooperation. On the contrary, Great Britain gave Portugal a great deal of aid in improving the military and counter-espionage (19).

As the war continued, Salazar used the censorship to exclude propaganda of all kinds from Portuguese newspapers, and so strive to preserve neutrality. Too often, the propagandists would find loopholes in the censorship, and the incendiary words would reach the Portuguese public. Salazar prevented the government from being swayed by the whims of the people and clung stubbornly to his policy of neutrality. Because of conditions around the world, however, the standard of living in Portugal declined, as did support for the Novo Estado (20).

Even in Spain, there were a few who disapproved of Salazar. Serrano Suñez, the Spanish Interior Minister and one of the leaders of the Falange (Spain’s predominant political party), told Ribbentrop, the German Foreign Minister, that Portugal had no right to exist. While this remark did not overly worry Salazar, the Blue Division concerned him much more. When Hitler launched Operation Barbarossa, Franco sent a division of volunteers, known as the Blue Division. Salazar resented this deeply, seeing it as a betrayal of the Iberian Pact. Although Salazar was perfectly willing to fight the Communists in Portugal, he did not want the Soviet Union to collapse only to be replace by the Axis. And if Spain grew too comfortable fighting alongside Germany, Salazar feared she would take Germany’s side when Hitler turned his attention to Iberia. He directed his ambassador, Pereira, to tell Suñez about the Portuguese Expeditionary Corps during World War One, drawing parallels between it and the Blue Division. Both were sent, Pereira argued, by misguided governments for poor reasons against the wishes of the people. If Spain continued in this route, she could expect a crisis at home, just as Portugal had experienced. From February 11 to 13, 1941, Salazar, Franco, and Suñez met in Seville to discuss the war and other matters that affected their nations. During this meeting, Salazar expressed his hope that nobody would win the war. If somebody won, then that country would become a superpower, and smaller countries like Portugal would lose their sovereignty. If, however, the war was fought to a draw, then all the large nations would be more concerned about each other than about trying to dominate lesser countries. During these talks, Suñez’s attitude toward Salazar completely changed. The three of them agreed to bind Portugal and Spain even more closely together economically and militarily, to prevent either one from relying too much on the Axis or the Allies (21).

But Germany was not the only potential enemy. On May 6, 1941, in separate speeches, both President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Senator Claude Pepper mentioned the strategic benefits of the Azores, a chain of islands in the Atlantic that belonged to Portugal. Salazar at once assumed that this was the first forebodings of an invasion and sent a protest. President Roosevelt promised that the United States would not invade the Azores, but would protect them, along with Brazil. Nonetheless, Salazar was distrustful of such protection, and stated quite clearly that he had no need of it. The issue was dropped until 1943, when both the United States and Great Britain began again to pressure Salazar into giving them the Azores, one way or the other. Although some of the Allied generals and politicians (Winston Churchill among them) wanted to simply occupy the Azores, others insisted that negotiation was the better way. Salazar forced the negotiations to last an incredibly long time, always delaying decisions and requesting more in return for allowing use of the Azores. Frustrated by Salazar’s constant dodging, Churchill again pushed the idea of simply occupying the Azores. The Portuguese garrison would be unable to put up any kind of fight, and the Allies would be able to use the Azores considerably sooner. However, there were many in the British Foreign Office who opposed such action, saying that it would be far more profitable to maintain good relations with Portugal, rather than driving her into the arms of the Axis. Churchill relented, although he had invasion plans drawn up. Thankfully, he never had to use them. After two months of negotiations, Salazar finally allowed the Allies limited use of the Azores, beginning October 8, 1943. In return, Portugal was allowed to continue trade with Germany, and Great Britain would allow Portugal to buy more current military equipment (22). The trade with both Germany and Great Britain ensured Portugal’s continued neutrality.

Relations between Portugal and Great Britain remained tense. Salazar still feared invasion from Germany, judging Great Britain to be incapable of protecting Portugal, as she had promised. On the other hand, the Portuguese ambassador to Great Britain, Armindo Monteiro, judged Great Britain to have the advantage over Germany. Monteiro would often write to Salazar, telling him how his actions blackened Portugal’s reputation in Great Britain. Many British saw Salazar as a fascist, who was unwilling to join the Allies because of secret sympathies with Germany, and all the evil the Nazis represented. As Salazar read Monteiro’s letters, however, he was struck with the distinct feeling that Monteiro was not so much writing for Salazar as he was for future historians. With this in mind, when Salazar replied, he did so using the margins and back of Monteiro’s own letter. When the historians read Monteiro’s letter, they would have Salazar’s reply, as well (23).

Portugal’s neutrality was a sore issue for both sides, as Portugal was Europe’s largest producer of tungsten. Tungsten was used to manufacture armor-piercing ammunition, and if either side could recruit Portugal, they would cut off a significant amount of tungsten for their enemy. Salazar knew how much the countries at war wanted tungsten and decided that tungsten could only be bought with escudos. Germany would sell goods to Portugal in exchange for escudos, which it would then use to buy tungsten. However, Great Britain blacklisted all the Portuguese business that had dealings with Germany, refusing to do business with them, and so Portugal became merely a component of Great Britain’s blockade, rather than the economically independent nation that Salazar wanted. Despite this, Germany continued buying, causing the price of tungsten to rise uncontrollably and threaten the rest of Portugal’s economy. Salazar took action to prevent destabilization of the economy, and signed a deal with Germany in January, 1942. Portugal would regularly sell tungsten to Germany, and Germany would not buy any tungsten outside of these appointed times. Germany would also sell more iron, ammonium sulfate, railway cars, and mining machinery to Portugal. Germany promised not to fire on Portuguese ships in the Atlantic, provided that they knew the cargo. As another effort to bring down the price of tungsten, Salazar established the Regulatory Commission for the Commercialization of Metals (CRCM). All Portuguese mining companies would sell their tungsten to the CRCM, which would then sell it to foreign countries. The CRCM fixed the price of tungsten at 150 escudos/kg, thus averting the threat to Portugal’s economy (24).

Despite Portugal’s neutrality, Great Britain was irritated that Salazar insisted on selling tungsten to Germany. As Salazar saw it, the Soviets were getting the most out of the war and selling tungsten to Germany was the best way he had of fighting Communism. Also, as leader of an independent nation, Salazar knew he could trade with whomever he wished. However, Great Britain continued to berate Salazar for maintaining trade with Germany in particular, and Salazar finally caved. He told Great Britain that if she demanded Portugal to cease selling tungsten to Germany in the terms of their ancient alliance, then he would comply. Great Britain seized the chance, and trade with Germany ceased (25).

While Salazar constantly struggled to overly favor neither Axis nor Allies, he also faced discontent at home. Marcelo Caetano, a renowned professor, claimed that the corporative state of the Novo Estado had no corporative spirit. Always willing to hear criticism, Salazar asked for clarification and examples. Caetano pointed out that the cost of living, food, and fuel had risen, as the latter two had to be imported from countries at war. And, as a final blow, the corporative state did not prevent corruption as much as Salazar had hoped. In an effort to improve the situation, some of Salazar’s advisors suggested he give regular radio talks and invest in other forms of propaganda as well. Salazar did so, but the quality of both talks and propaganda was not very good. Although Salazar could write, he was not much of a public speaker, and had no charisma (26).

The Communists at once took advantage of the disgruntled Portuguese. They instigated three waves of strikes, in October of 1942, July of 1943, and May of 1944. Salazar responded to the strikes with arrests, but also raised wages and instituted a better rationing system. However, even the new rationing system was faulty, and the workers were only slightly less disgruntled than before (27).

1. Filipe Ribeiro de Meneses, Salazar: A Political Biography, Enigma Books, © 2009, pp., p. 86
2. Antonio Costa Pinto, Salazar’s Dictatorship and European Fascism, Columbia University Press, © 1995, p. 3
3. De Meneses, p. 88
4. Hugh Kay, Salazar and Modern Portugal, Hawthorn Books, Inc., © 1970, pp. 87-89
5. Ibid, pp. 91-92
6. Ibid, p. 93
7. Ibid, p. 95
8. Ibid, p. 103
9. Ibid, pp. 111-116
10. Ibid, pp. 117-120
11. De Meneses, p. 223
12. Ibid, pp. 226-227
13. Ibid, pp. 228-229
14. Ibid, pp. 229-232
15. Ibid, p. 233
16. Ibid, pp. 234-235
17. Ibid, p. 237
18. Ibid, pp. 237-240
19. Ibid, pp. 241-242
20. Ibid, pp. 249-252
21. Ibid, pp. 257-263
22. Ibid, pp. 266-288
23. Ibid, pp. 289-300
24. Ibid, pp. 304-308
25. Ibid, pp. 314-316
26. Ibid, pp. 319-321
27. Ibid, pp. 321-328

Salazar's Early Life

Antonio Salazar was born in Vimieiro, near Santa Comba Dão in central Portugal. Antonio Salazar’s father was a modest landowner who had begun as an agricultural labourer and worked his way up to become a farm manager for a wealthy landowner.

Salazar’s family were far from rich but earned enough to fund a good education, initially Salazar studied at the Viseu Seminary between 1900 through to 1914. At the end of state education Antonio considered becoming a priest but was convinced to study law at the prestigious Coimbra University.

These strong religious convictions are what initially drove Salazar into politics. The early stages of the First Republic were heavily anti-Christian and blamed the powerful religious orders with many of the failings in the country. Salazar in response started to write for Catholic newspapers and organise protests that supported the interests of the church and its followers.

The Portuguese First Republic (1910-1926) was a turbulent time for Portugal with multiple short lived governments, vying leaders with opposed views. In this era Salazar was asked to join the government of Sidónio Pais whose dictatorship controlled Portugal for a single year in 1917 but he declined. Salazar officially entered the Portuguese world of politics with his membership to the Catholic Centre Party but only stayed for one year.

Salazar moved onto teach political economy at the University of Coimbra. After 10 years of university teaching, his brilliance with figures and diverse views for the economy allowed him to return to politics as the minister for finance. Some of Salazar’s finest decisions were in this role and this aligned him to become a future ruler. Continue to Page 2

Watch the video: Truth English - António de Oliveira Salazar - 1966 (June 2022).


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