Saturday, 25 April 2009

Carnation Revolution in Portugal 35 years ago

The Carnation Revolution (Portuguese: Revolução dos Cravos), was a military coup against a 40 year old dictatorship, which started on April 25, 1974, in Lisbon, Portugal. It gave all political groups the opportunity to form parties and to participate in the political life of the country. Before the coup the Portuguese Monarchists had been part of the opposition against António de Oliveira Salazar and Marcelo Caetano. My Portuguese friend, Nuno Castelo-Branco , writes on the Carnation Revolution from a Monarchist point of view. Nuno has two blogs, that are worth checking: estadosentido and centenario-republica.

The 25th April 1974 has a special signifiance for the Portuguese history, because it meant a clear rupture with the colonial past. At that time Portugal held overseas territories in the Atlantic - Cape Verde, São Tomé, in Africa - Guinea-Bissau, Angola and Mozambique -,and in Asia - Macau and Timor -, but Portugal was facing a guerrilla war on several African fronts, this was during the same period as the Vietnam war. Without any support of from formal NATO allies, the Portuguese army managed to contain the thread imposed by movements armed by the USSR and China and financed by countries that had interests in the economic prospects in Angola and Mozambique.

The internal situation of the regime had started to crumble in the post-WWII period, when the influence of communism was evident around the world. Half of Europe was occupied by the Red Army and the decolonization period arrived with the "winds of history".

Portugal had a banishment law for the Braganza family. This law was imposed after the illegal and brutal coup d'État in 1910, but the collapse of the 1st republic in 1926 - due to fraud, incompetence, economic disaster and political repression -, gave the “restaurationists” some hopes to achieve the return of the Monarchy. Unfortunately, the premature death of King Manuel II in 1932 created a new situation and rendered the path for a smooth acceptation of the restoration more difficult. [In 1933 António de Oliveira Salazar came to power. RR]

The visit of Queen Amelia in 1945 surprised the Salazar regime, who could not expect such a popular reception, with thousands of people cheering her everywhere. Amelia embodied in fact the last rememberance of a regime of political tolerance, being the face of the multi-party constitutiobal legalism. Wishing to calm down the internal pressure of the Monarchist members of the Causa Monárquica - the people’s wish was already tested by Amelia's visit -, Salazar finally agreed to abolish the banishment law, precisely in the period that General Franco declared Spain a kingdom "in waiting". All the opposition was waiting what the new situation held for them: The Braganzas returned to Portugal. It was well known that the regime’s own party, the União Nacional, had an extremely strong monarchist section. Salazar knew that the Duke of Braganza was an admirer of the British Monarchy. On this prospect, that the Portuguese Estado Nuevo could be replaced by a Parliamentarian Monarchy Salazar decided to stay on the republican way, seeing in the restoration a threat to his personal power.

The accomplishment of the military service of the (then Crown Prince) Dom Duarte at the front in Angola, left negative impressions on Marcelo Caetano (who had succeded Salazar in 1968), because His Royal Highness tried to organize an opposition list in Angola, to run for the national elections. At this moment the ecologist-liberal group of Monarchists under the direction of Ribeiro Telles, announced the complete rupture with the Caetano regime, who was unable to solve politically the military conflict in the overseas territories. The war was far from lost, but without any logistic assistance by the formal allies, it could be prolonged in the future, creating internal friction and international oposition against Portugal.

The 25th April had as direct consequence the rapid abandonning of the overseas provinces, with a unprecedent chaos everywhere. Due to the clear influence of the communist party, the army retired, and circa one million "colons" (settlers) where forced to flee to Portugal, South Africa, Brazil and even Australia.

The normalization of the internal situation in Portugal, included the country’s entry into the EU, re-establishing of strong ties with the traditional allies, the United Kingdom and the USA. Actually, the economical degradation, the perils due to the massification of the EU, give a very clear rise of the Monarchist movement which is stronger than ever.

Deputies in parliament - in most of the democratic parties, Socialist, Social Democrat, Conservative, Party of the Earth/ecologists -, in the press - some polls give circa 40% to the monarchy in an hypothetic referendum -, and now, in the internet. As a simple curiosity, let me mention a poll of SIC (channel 3 of TV) on the day of the marriage of Dom Duarte with Isabel Herédia (1995), resulted in a 67% yes vote for the monarchy would a referendum have been held on that day! It's now quite normal that public figures like actors, journalists, university professors, etc. indicate their pro-monarchy opinion, and many see it as a guarantee for the survival of our country in the expanding European Union. The economic crisis and the internal political discredit are other factors that can enforce Monarchist hopes. The discrete and dignified social and cultural services of the actual Duke of Braganza, have a certain echo in the population which regards him as one of the few personalities in the country who is above any suspiction.

We must not forget his vital role in the liberation of East Timor, insisting for more than two decades on the right of an consultation of the people of this territory, with his intense diplomac efforts in Europe and in the USA. An important task of the Duke is without any doubt, strenghtning the ties with the increasingly important Community of the Portuguese Speaking Countries, where his diplomatic work is widely recognized.
N. C.-B.
Since 1975 the Monarchist People's Party (Partido Popular Monárquico = PPM) has taken part in all elections and has presently two seats in the Portuguese parliament.


MadMonarchist said...

Even with the worst that is thrown at him I can't see Salazar as such a bad guy. Nor do I fault him for trying to keep the Portuguese empire together. So far the siding of Dom Duarte with the opposition has not brought about his elevation to the throne. The opposite did work for Juan Carlos but his destruction of the Falangist regime changed everything. Whether Dom Duarte backed the right horse or not might be seen in what happens in Spain after the death of Juan Carlos. I have heard many say that Spain is not monarchist but is "Juan Carlist" and that once he is gone the monarchy will be abolished. If that is so I wonder if, in some nether regions beyond this world, the late Franco will be scolding Juan Carlos with an "I told you so!"

Nuno Castelo-Branco said...

I have some doubts about the "enda of the monarchy" in Spain. The expressions Juancarlsita was forged by certain areas in the media, I mean, the orphans of the defeated side in 1936-39. The polls show a strong support to the crown, the Asturias are popular and last butt not least, the people understands that the Crown keep the country united. Republic in Spain means balkanisation of the Iberian peninsula.

Prince Louis Richard II said...

I have seen no indication of any republican movement in Spain that could possibly endanger the existence of the Monarchy there.

As for Portugal, I lived there as a child just after the Carnation Revolution, and I well remember the people demanding the restoration of the Monarchy under Dom Duarte Pio. Even today his position is virtually that of a shadow head of state and I know for a fact that most Portuguese politicians address him as Your Royal Highness when they meet with him.

Perhaps if a law suit were to be entered in the Constitutional Court claiming that the abolition of the Monarchy in 1910 was illegal (which it was), then Portugal would once again be a Kingdom, without politicians having to take sensitive decisions.