Which city is called the city of carnations

The Carnation Revolution

The dictatorship and the colonial wars

Portugal had been weakened by a repressive dictatorship for decades. President Antonio de Oliveira Salazar had led Portugal into international economic and political isolation since taking power in 1932.

In his "Estado Novo" ("New State") he united power and relied on a system that included the large landowners, the military and some influential families in the economy. The dictatorship did not tolerate any political activity and the people were to be kept in underage.

In order to let the population believe that Portugal was an economic power, he exploited the colonies.

But in the 1960s the relationship with the colonies deteriorated noticeably. In 1960 the Belgian Congo gained its independence. Influenced by this, an uprising in Angola followed in 1961, which led to a massacre of white settlers. Portugal responded and sent soldiers into the country.

Even if the Portuguese troops initially managed to get the situation under control, insurgent splinter groups could no longer be contained. Mozambique and Guinea-Bissau also began to revolt against their mother country.

Economic relations were on hold and the wars in the colonies turned into bloody guerrilla wars. After all, two-thirds of the 225,000-strong Portuguese army fought in Africa.

Resistance is forming

Years of colonial wars wore down Portuguese society and put a strain on the national budget. More and more victims were to be mourned.

Resistance began to form within the military. Some officers realized that the leadership under Salazar's successor, Marcello Caetano, also had no solution for the colonial wars and the desolate economic situation in the country.

The crisis was also exacerbated by the rise in oil prices. This group of officers, the so-called "Movement of the Armed Forces" (Movimento das Forcas Armadas = MFA) finally sparked a revolution in 1974, starting from the Alentejo, a region in southern Portugal.

They also included the deputy head of state, António de Spínola, a member of the conservative wing of the army. The MFA wanted to end the colonial wars, remove the ideological foundations of the old regime and introduce democracy.

On April 25, 1974, shortly after midnight, the radio station "Radioclub Portugues" played the song "Grândola, Vila Morena" ("Grândola, tanned city"). It was the starting signal for the putschists and became the anthem of the Carnation Revolution.

Because the fascist leadership had the song of the left-wing singer-songwriter José Afonso banned because of his communist tendencies. It had been on the index for years until it was played again for the first time on Revolution Day.

The revolution begins

Apparently the government, the military and the police underestimated the Movement of the Armed Forces (MFA). Shortly after three in the morning, the putschists occupied the strategic points of the capital Lisbon, including the radio stations and some ministries. The MFA took over the command and published a first communiqué to the population:

"This is the command of the Movement of the Armed Forces. We call on all residents of Lisbon to go to their homes and stay calm there. We sincerely hope that the difficult hours we are going through will not be marred by any accident appeal to the common sense and understanding of the rest of the troops so that any clash with the armed forces is avoided. "

But the population did not follow the instructions. Because when the officers later occupied Lisbon with tanks, they were enthusiastically received by the people. As a greeting, the women put red carnations in the gun barrel of the soldiers, which earned the revolution the name "Carnation Revolution".

Government surrender

The movement of the armed forces did not yet have the situation completely under control. Government followers of Caetano barricaded themselves in public buildings. Only after several hours of negotiations could they be persuaded to surrender.

In the afternoon around four o'clock, Marcello Caetano announced his resignation. The only condition: he does not want to hand over government power to unknown officers, but to General António de Spínola.

The result: there were four dead when remaining troops loyal to the regime fired at unarmed demonstrators in front of the headquarters of the Portuguese secret police. There were no more casualties to complain about. 17 hours and 25 minutes were enough to overthrow a dictatorship that had ruled Portugal for over 40 years.

General António de Spínola announced: "What we are witnessing today is the most important historical event since the uprising against the Spanish occupation in 1640. Today we celebrate the liberation of our homeland."

Effects of the Carnation Revolution

After the end of the dictatorship, there were turbulent months in Portugal despite the smooth course of events. Twenty days after the fall of Caetano, Spínola was sworn in as the new president.

Although he supported the nationalization of the banks, he resisted releasing the colonies of Mozambique and Angola into their independence. As a result, bitter power struggles ensued within the opposition parties.

It was not until 1976 that the first democratic presidential elections took place, from which Mário Soares of the Partido Socialista (PS) became the first head of government. The new government eventually gave the colonies independence.

The Carnation Revolution had far-reaching political effects at the time. Many experts, including the Harvard professor and political scientist Samuel P. Huntington, saw the events of April 1974 as the beginning of a new wave of democratization in Europe. After Portugal, Greece was liberated from the dictatorship in the same year, and in 1975 the Franco dictatorship in Spain also came to a bloodless end.