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By Kenneth Maxwell

This paper deals with the origins, process, and aftermath of the military coup of 1974 in Portugal which ended the oldest and most resilient authoritarian regime in Europe. The paper is divided into five parts. Part I sets the broader context within which Portuguese events should be seen, and outlines the international and domestic factors which made the Portuguese revolution so significant an event within the international system as a whole. Part II deals with the process of change in Portugal between 1974 and 1976--the struggle between the Communists and the moderates, the rapid decolonization in Africa, the role of the military--and delineates the social and economic dimensions of the transition. Part III deals with causes of the failure of the revolution. Part IV deals with the establishment of the democratic regime and the problems the new regime faces due to its dual heritage of a half-century of right-wing dictatorship and the traumatic experiences of an aborted revolution in which a strong leadership role had been assumed by the authoritarian left. The paper concludes with a discussion of the political and social underpinnings of the constitutional regime established in 1976 and its prospects.


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