The deep roots of the Carnation Revolution: 150 years of military interventionism in Portugal | Intellect Skip to content
Volume 13, Issue 2
  • ISSN: 1476-413X
  • E-ISSN: 1758-9509



The military coup on 25 April 1974 initiated the Carnation Revolution that put an end to the New State, the longest-lasting authoritarian regime in twentieth-century Europe. There are several alternative explanations about what caused such a process of regime substitution in Portugal. This article focuses on one of them: military discontent and participation in politics. It analyses the history of civil-military relations from the aftermath of the Napoleonic Wars until the demise of the New State. It shows that the attitude of the military in 1974 was not merely conjunctural and that the tendency to intervene in politics was entrenched in the armed forces since the fall of the ancien régime. Although the nature and intensity of its participation in state affairs evolved throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the Portuguese military never completely accepted civilian supremacy. Military interventionism was nurtured by political polarization, institutional weakness, and disagreements over foreign policy, the use of the armed forces against internal enemies and the deficient equipment and preparation of the troops. Periods of active involvement in politics alternated with others in which interventionism remained latent.


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