Next Thursday, Portugal celebrates a historic milestone that profoundly shaped the country’s course – the 50th anniversary of the Carnation Revolution. On April 25, 1974, a revolt led by sub-officers of the Portuguese army, quickly supported by the population, overthrew the oldest dictatorship in Western Europe, putting an end to decades of authoritarian rule, colonial wars and inaugurating a new chapter in the history of Portugal.

The Carnation Revolution not only marked the end of a dictatorial regime, but also symbolized the rise of democracy and freedom in Portugal. The red carnations, placed on the weapons of rebel soldiers, became the icon of this fight for freedom and popular solidarity.

During 48 years of dictatorship, Portugal faced not only political restrictions, but also an economic and social reality of poverty, hunger and illiteracy. The Carnation Revolution opened the doors to an era of modernization and development, allowing the organization of the first free elections and the process of independence of the former Portuguese colonies in Africa: Angola, Mozambique, Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde.

The April Revolution of 1974 brought with it a fervor for change, ushering in an era of democracy and freedom that, in many ways, still resonates today. However, it also triggered a counter-revolutionary process that threatened and, in some cases, undone hard-won gains.

The revolutionary process was, without a doubt, an incomplete journey. Over the past 48 years, Portugal has witnessed a succession of right-wing governments that, in many ways, have challenged the principles and values ​​established by the Revolution. To a large extent, we witness the restoration of the dominance of monopoly groups over national life, often in defiance of the Constitution of the Portuguese Republic. It is healthy to recognize the counter-revolutionary process that, since 1976, has eroded achievements, impoverished democracy and compromised Portuguese sovereignty.

Salazarist nostalgia

However, while Portugal celebrates this historic milestone, it also faces contemporary challenges. The electoral growth of the far right, exemplified by the rise of the Chega party, highlights current political tensions and the persistence of divisions in Portuguese society. The party created in 2019 has consolidated itself as the third political force in the country, with 18% of the votes in the recent legislative elections and the election of 50 deputies.

More than one million and one hundred thousand people voted for the Chega party, signaling an alarm for Portuguese society. The electoral result revealed a significant setback for the left, with the Bloco de Esquerda and the Portuguese Communist Party not achieving the expected representation.

During the election campaign, the representation of political parties in the media became a field of ideological dispute, with cases of silencing, such as the exclusion of communist candidate Paulo Raimundo from some coverage. This marginalization highlights the struggle of the left in the political scene and in the public narrative.

Furthermore, the rise of the far right is linked to issues such as immigration and austerity. Portugal, on the semi-periphery of capitalism, faces economic exploitation and competition for foreign investment, contributing to social inequalities. The rise of the far right therefore reflects the structural crisis of capitalism and the neoliberal response to the global financial crisis. However, the far right offers simplistic solutions that do not challenge the foundations of capitalism, diverting attention from the true causes of inequality.

A recent survey revealed that, although half of those interviewed consider that the old regime had more negative aspects than positive, a significant portion (20%) still have nostalgic views of the dictatorship. This polarization reflects the complexity of the legacy left by the Carnation Revolution and the continuous need for reflection and dialogue about Portugal’s past and future.

The April 25th Revolution remains the most important event in Portuguese history for more than 60% of citizens, highlighting its lasting influence and undeniable significance on the country’s trajectory. More than a simple change of regime, the Carnation Revolution represents the affirmation of popular will and the search for justice, freedom and equality for all Portuguese.

In 2019, almost 70% of the Portuguese electorate ignored the elections for the European parliament, a sign of disinterest and political discontent. Two years later, in the presidential elections, abstention reached a record of more than 60%. However, last March there was a significant drop in the abstention rate during the national assembly elections, dropping to 40%.

Those nostalgic for the “good old days”, mostly dissatisfied young people, consider Salazar one of the great leaders in the history of Portugal and believe that the country was better before the Carnation Revolution. They are people who were born amidst the advances in democracy and Portugal’s full integration into the European Union.

However, it is important to remember the context in which Portugal was before the Carnation Revolution. The country was marked by deep social stratification, with a privileged elite and a large, predominantly illiterate rural mass. Salazar’s dictatorship kept the country under strict control, but failed to resolve society’s fundamental problems.

The Carnation Revolution opened the doors to a new era in Portugal. The transformation was remarkable: in 50 years, the country went from high rates of illiteracy and infant mortality to a modern and developed state. However, challenges persist, especially amid the rise of the far right and political polarization.

Portugal, today, faces territorial imbalances, an aging population and tensions regarding immigration. However, the collective memory of the Carnation Revolution remains an important reference point in the national consciousness, a reminder that the fight for freedom and democracy is an ongoing journey.

April Conquests

Fifty years after the Carnation Revolution, the achievements of that period continue to be celebrated and defended as fundamental pillars of Portugal’s present and future.

For 48 long years, the Portuguese people were deprived of their basic freedoms, oppressed and exploited by a fascist dictatorship that stifled any dissenting voice. However, in April 1974, the country witnessed the end of the dictatorship, the dismantling of the feared political police (PIDE), the abolition of censorship and the establishment of democracy.

This revolution was not limited to overthrowing a regime, but rather building a new Portugal, based on principles of freedom, social justice and civic participation. Fundamental rights were enshrined, from the right to association and demonstration to universal and direct suffrage. Democracy flourished, allowing citizens to actively shape the destiny of their nation.

One of the greatest victories of this revolution was the improvement of the living conditions of the Portuguese people. Institutions such as the national minimum wage, the increase in real wages, social security and the right to paid holidays have transformed the reality of workers. Furthermore, measures such as agrarian reform and nationalizations broke the rule of monopolies and promoted a more equitable distribution of wealth.

In the social sphere, the April Revolution marked the beginning of a journey towards equality and inclusion. The rights of women, people with disabilities and the elderly were recognized and protected. Education, culture and sport became accessible to everyone, breaking with the barriers imposed by the old regime.

In addition to the internal transformations, the April Revolution had a significant impact on Portugal’s foreign policy. The country began to base its international relations on principles of peace, cooperation and respect for the self-determination of people. The end of the colonial war and the recognition of the independence of former African colonies are testaments to Portugal’s commitment to global justice.

However, April’s achievements have faced and continue to face challenges. Over the years, right-wing political forces have attempted to undermine long-held democratic and social principles. Despite these obstacles, the spirit of April remains alive in the constant fight for a fairer and more supportive Portugal.

Fifty years after the Carnation Revolution, the Portuguese come together to reaffirm their commitment to the values ​​of April. It’s time to defend and strengthen the achievements that shaped modern Portugal. Because April is not just a page in history, it is the engine that drives the future of the Iberian nation.


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