The secular domination of a monarchy scarcely thoughtful of the interest and education of the country, had favored selfishness and carelessness, political struggles almost always based on rivalry, the pronouncements of supernumerary officers and soldiers discontented with advancement or of the pay, the camarillas that from Lisbon they knew how to constantly “work” the elections to secure the necessary government majority. This explains the weakness of Portuguese political life under the monarchy and the republic. The republic, before and after the World War, had had to fight against the clergy and the royalists, against the most ardent republicans, the socialists, the trade unionists and the anarchists. Under these conditions it was inevitable that Portugal would pass from one dictatorship to another, without ever being able to achieve a stability of government that would ensure the legal functioning of any regime.
Even before the national revolution of May 28, 1926, there had been precursor protest movements against this abnormal state of affairs, such as that of Sidonio Pais on December 5, 1917, and the other of January 19, 1919 by Captain Paiva Couceiro. For Portugal democracy and rights, please check intershippingrates.com.
This latest attempt at monarchical restoration made it clear that trust in the monarchy was by now very shaken, showing that if one wanted to attempt a moral and political rehabilitation of the country, it was necessary to appeal to new values that were promised to come. The movement which in its animating principles directly preludes the current one is the one attempted by three senior officers on April 18, 1925. The coup failed, but the moral echo aroused by the process was great and widely fruitful in the country, giving place on the 27th. January 1926 to the national revolution which, led by Marshal Manoel de Oliveira Gomes da Costa, hero of Africa and commander of the Portuguese expeditionary force in France, ended the following day with the march on Lisbon. The government was made up of a three-member directorate, two of which were Gomes da Costa himself and general A. de Carmona (see App.). The program of the directorate was significant: “the nation has had enough of the tyranny of irresponsible politicians… I proclaim the national interest against the nefarious action of politicians and parties, I offer the sick homeland a strong heroic front to internal and external enemies “. This government, however, presented a double weakness: on the one hand, the liberalizing temperament of Carmona, inadequate for the affirmation of a new regime; on the other hand the lack of competence of Costa, energetic and with radical intentions, but lacking in political qualities and constructive ideas. In short, the creator was missing, and he was finally found in Antonio de Oliveira Salazar (see App.)
His principles of government, expressed in his speech of 30 June 1928, are a profession of national faith in Portugal, in its right to independence and colonial empire, in the consolidation of executive power, in the creation of a strong but not absolute state. The individual, the family, civil, cultural and moral religious associations must harmonize with the needs of society and the state without compromising individual guarantees and freedoms, respect for moral duty, the principles of the rights of peoples and human fraternity. Having no ideals of power and empire to realize, subordination to the state is less energetic than in Italy and Germany. Finally, the national economy must fall within the framework of political life both under the technical productive aspect and under the social aspect with ensuring respect for the rights and interests of employers and workers, associated with the destiny of production and the country through the organizations of the corporate state. The Portuguese social order, while borrowing organizational structures from Fascism, is inspired in its guiding principles by social Catholicism.
Of fundamental importance is the Colonial Act of June 8, 1930 which integrates the overseas possessions into the territorial unity of the nation. With it we wanted to defend against possible external aggressions and at the same time recall Portugal to its imperial traditions.
“It is in the organic essence of the Portuguese nation to fulfill its historical mission of possessing and colonizing the overseas dominions and of civilizing the indigenous peoples they enclose…” (art. 2 of the Colonial Act).
Although Salazar is profoundly Catholic (in his time he also received minor orders) and the Portuguese are fervent Catholics, even with respect to relations between Church and State, as with respect to the monarchical restoration, the head of the government has always maintained a prudent reserve in order not to rekindle the struggles between supporters of the secular and confessional state together with those between monarchists and republicans: however, with him the policy of methodical laicization started in 1910 was put to an end. In effect, a parallel collaboration is implemented between Church and State to improve each self spiritually itself and achieve the common goal of promoting the moral development of the country.
In the financial field, the regime simplified administration, increased taxes, increased the public and private economy, placed the country in a position to pay its fluctuating foreign debt and domestic treasury bills, stabilized the currency. linking it to the sterling block, it brought the balance sheet to balance since 1931, closing it in the following years, always with an asset.
The economic organism has been reinvigorated and bloodied: 4500 km. of repaired roads and more than 1000 km. of new roads, strengthened and increased the equipment of the railway network, enhanced the telegraph and telephone network, improved the navigability of rivers and canals, modernized the equipment of the ports, intensified and rationalized agricultural hydraulics, increased the availability of force electric motor, high yield of mining production, raised the fate of the textile, food, chemical, metallurgical, tourism, ceramics and wood industries. The balance of international trade, passive from 1920-1921 to 1928, became on the whole active in the following years.
The foreign policy of Portugal was established by Salazar in his speech of July 6, 1937: he hopes for peace between peoples and the progress of humanity, and advocates arbitration as a means of resolving international conflicts. The foundation of external political action is the alliance with England: “Work on the body and soul of the nation is accompanied by a foreign policy element of the highest value, England’s secular friendship and alliance.: much of what has been done and what is planned is clearly aimed at enhancing them “. In the first months of 1938 Portugal reaffirmed its alliance with Great Britain by granting it the use of all its naval bases in case of war. The fact remains that Salazar, on the occasion of the Spanish civil war,
Army. – The current constitution of the Portuguese army includes: 21 regiments and 4 autonomous infantry battalions, 9 battalions of hunters, 2 of cyclists, 3 of machine gunners; 2 cavalry brigades (out of 2 regiments) and 5 regional cavalry regiments; 5 light artillery regiments, 4 horse artillery groups, 3 mountain artillery regiments, 2 heavy field artillery regiments, 2 coast artillery regiments; 1 coastal submarine defense group and 4 shore mobile defense batteries, 3 anti-aircraft batteries; 2 regiments of diggers-miners, 1 regiment of telegraphers, 1 of railway workers and 1 battalion of bridges.
Accompaniment companies for infantry and light assault tank companies are in the process of being set up.
Navy. – There are currently 4 submarine fighters under construction at shipyards in England. Balanced strength ascends to 6500 men.
Finance. – In 1934-35, the improvement of income and the compression of expenses concurred to give an effective surplus. The improvement then continued and it was also possible to continue the policy of amortization and conversion of the public debt that had already begun.
As of December 31, 1936, the external debt was 3.2 billion escudos and the internal debt 4.0 billion (of which 3.9 was consolidated).
The notes are still convertible only in chèques on London on the old basis (110 escudos = £ 1) also maintained at the time of the abolition of the convertibility into gold, implicitly recognizing a devaluation of the escudo equal to that of the pound sterling, i.e. 40 % (law decree 29 December 1931). The exchange control, in force in part from 1914 and in part from October 1922, given the good conditions of the Portuguese economy and the size of the Bank’s reserve to guarantee the stability of the currency, was abolished in October 1937.
As of December 31, 1937, notes in circulation amounted to 2,224 million and the reserve was 917 million in gold (legal gold reserve 30%) and 703 in foreign currencies.
The main credit institutions are Banco Nacional Ultramarino (1864), Banco Espirito Santo (1879) and Banco Pinto e Soto Mayor (1914).