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First Portuguese Republic

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Portuguese Republic

República Portuguesa
Coat of arms
Motto: "Order and Work"
Anthem: A Portuguesa  (Portuguese)
The Portuguese
Portuguese Republic on the eve of World War I
Portuguese Republic on the eve of World War I
Common languagesPortuguese (in Continental Portugal, Madeira and Azores, official in the Portuguese Empire)
GovernmentDominant-party[citation needed] parliamentary republic
• 1911–1915
Manuel de Arriaga (first)
• 1925–1926
Bernardino Machado (last)
Prime Minister 
• 1911
João Pinheiro Chagas (first)
• 1925–1926
António Maria da Silva (last)
LegislatureCongress of the Republic
• Upper house
• Lower house
Chamber of Deputies
5 October 1910
21 August 1911
29 May 1926
191192,391 km2 (35,672 sq mi)
192092,391 km2 (35,672 sq mi)
• 1911
• 1920
CurrencyPortuguese real (1910–1911)
Portuguese escudo (1911–1926)
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Kingdom of Portugal
Ditadura Nacional

The First Portuguese Republic (Portuguese: Primeira República Portuguesa; officially: República Portuguesa, Portuguese Republic) spans a complex 16-year period in the history of Portugal, between the end of the period of constitutional monarchy marked by the 5 October 1910 revolution and the 28 May 1926 coup d'état. The latter movement instituted a military dictatorship known as Ditadura Nacional (national dictatorship) that would be followed by the corporatist Estado Novo (new state) regime of António de Oliveira Salazar.

The sixteen years of the First Republic saw nine presidents and 44 ministries, and have been described as consisting of "continual anarchy, government corruption, rioting and pillage, assassinations, arbitrary imprisonment and religious persecution".[1]

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Once upon a time, Spain was all like "I'm gonna take over the Americas! Yeah! That's where all my glory is gonna shine! What? OK- Look, just go play with Western Sahara or something, okay? Just don't bother me, okay? I'm investing in your bigger brother that I care so much more about!" And that child grew up to be Equatorial Guinea. Hey everyone, I'm your host Barby. Hispanics of the world, say hi to your far-off distant linguistic African cousins that you may not even know existed! Seriously, Spanish-speaking Africans! Cool, huh? Yeah, and this is where you can find them. So, if you've never heard of this place, that's okay. Most people haven't. I mean, places like South Africa and Kenya are so in right now that it's hard for anybody else to kind of get, like, three seconds in the spotlight. First of all, although called Equatorial Guinea, the country is actually located a few degrees north of the Equator. But it was kind of close enough so they're like, "Eh, we'll just keep that name." Second the country has kind of like a strange layout when it comes to its territory. There are two main parts: the mainland and the offshore insular parts. The mainland part of Equatorial Guinea is called Río Muni and is located in central Africa right at the Gulf of Guinea under Cameroon and at the top of Gabon. The insular parts contain the islands of Bioko, located north, off the coast of Cameroon, and Annobón which lies about 660 kilometres southwest from Bioko, with São Tomé and Príncipe caught right in between them, creating a nearly perfect diagonal chain of islands. Now, just like we discussed in the Cameroon episode, these islands are on what is called the Cameroon line, which is an area on the Gulf that has active volcanic islands formed from tectonic activity. They also own the island of Corisco, as well as the big and little Elobey islands just off the southwest coast in Corisco Bay, where the Muni River empties into the ocean, making it the border with Gabon. This is also the river where Río Muni gets its name from. The country is divided into seven provinces, with the capital Malabo located on Bioko island. Keep in mind though, they are currently constructing an entirely new capital called Oyala in the future Wele-Nzas province set to be complete in 2020. You know, despite some ongoing protests from citizens, but hey, African politics typically aren't well known for being legislatively accommodating in that field. Río Muni contains about eighty percent of the entire country's population as well as the largest city Bata, found off of the Atlantic coast. The country is kinda small at about 28,000 square kilometers. It's just a little bit bigger than Burundi, but smaller than Albania. Now, due to the recent oil boom Equatorial Guinea has been able to invest heavily in infrastructure projects like upgrading the two largest airports at Malabo and Bata, as well as adding three new airports on Annobón and Corisco as well as inland near the still under construction town of Oyala. Road construction has boomed in the past three decades as well. Towns in the remote eastern rain forest areas now have direct access to places that were previously only accessible by river or a really long potentially deadly walk where highly aggressive mandrills could attack and eat your face. Speaking of wildlife, Equatorial Guinea may be small, but those scattered insular islands give it quite the range of eco diversity. The country is of course mainly tropical in its climate, humid and warm year-round. However, the rainy seasons kind of switch off at different parts of the year for the islands vs Río Muni. From June to August Río Muni is dry whereas Bioko is wet, and then it switches to the opposite around December to Februari. Annobón island is typically known for being somewhat cloudy all the time. There have been almost no cloudless days registered in their recorded history. The coastal flat plains on Río Muni rise to interior jungle hills which just like their other Congo rainforest neighbors, is filled with minerals like tantalum, gold, diamonds, and bauxite. Yeah, those jungles are loaded with bling. Of course, this allows the country to be a cradle of biodiversity harboring a monkey haven with dozens of primate species dominating the treetops all over. Despite this the national animal is actually the giraffe. At about 3,000 meters, the highest peak is Pico Basile, which is the only recorded active volcano in the country, that actually erupted in 1932. Now, here's the thing: for most of their history, their economy was heavily centered around forestry and fishing. Nothing too crazy. Then 1995 came and they discovered a ton of oil off the coast, and everything changed. Suddenly, they joined the ranks of becoming one of the top 10 largest African oil exporters and today over ninety-five percent of their exports are in crude oil or hydrocarbon production. And since the population was so small they had an influx of revenue to disperse amongst the country. Nonetheless they are very aware that it won't last forever, and the oil is expected to run out around 2035, so the government actually instituted this plan, called the 2020 plan: a strategic policy that will supposedly allow the country to diversify their revenue sources and industries before time runs out. Of course this new policy hasn't been shy of a few controversies from the populace, and we'll dive into that right about now. Equatorial Guinea may be going through some economic prosperity seasons but there are some issues that stick. The people of Equatorial Guinea are unique in that unlike most African nations they come from centuries of Spanish influence. First of all, the country is made up of about 800,000 people and has the highest per capita GDP in Africa as of 2016. Keep in mind this is due to the very small population, hence PER CAPITA. Nigeria actually has the largest GDP overall. The country is made up of numerous ethnic and tribal groups, the largest ones being the Fang at about eighty-six percent, the Bubi (hehe, boobie) at seven percent, five percent are made up of smaller groups like that in Mdowe, Annobón, and Bujeba, and the rest are other groups like Spanish, Chinese and other Europeans at around two percent, mostly Spanish. Although Spanish is the official language, spoken by about seventy percent of the country, French is commonly spoken as well, especially since they're kind of surrounded by, and are forced to interact with, French-speaking neighbors. Portuguese is also spoken, which allowed them to join the list of Lusophone Nations recently. Nonetheless, most people identify with their specific ethnic group and language first, and then speak Spanish as a second language. They became the first non- Francophone nation to join the financial cooperation in central Africa, and use the Central African CFA franc as their currency. They also use the type-C and E electrical outlets at 50 Hertz, and drive on the right side of the road. In 1968 they gained a relatively smooth independence from Spain and then... well, you know how it works in Africa. Term one: having fun. Term two: watching you. Term three: Oh, you gonna get assassinated! No, seriously though, this guy was insane. He called himself God and the unique miracle of Africa, drove out a third of his population, he stole the money from the Treasury, and on Christmas he made his soldiers dress up like Santa Clauses and ordered them to execute 150 of his opponents in Malabo stadium, as Mary Hopkin's song "Those Were the Days" blasted on the speakers. True story. Fun side note, his children were whisked away to North Korea before his death, where they grew up and learned Korean. His daughter Monique actually just wrote a memoir – look it up; it's fascinating. Then his nephew rebelled and started a coup and destroyed the regime. To this day they claim to be a multiparty democracy, however in practice it's more classified as a dictatorship, as Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo has been president since 1979. And even though there's a controversy behind his rule, people are kind of like, "well, at least he's not his uncle." I mean, he did kind of help build the infrastructure, so... Nonetheless, wealth distribution is still an ongoing issue. The majority, at around eighty seven percent of the country, identifies as Catholic, which is why it was a huge deal when former Pope John Paul II visited Bata in 1982, and the rest are either Protestant or indigenous animist. Culture-wise, Equatorial Guinea has a very vibrant artistic side, noted for their abstract sculpture work dominated by the Fang and Bubi cultures. Especially in the capital Malabo, artists like sculptor Gabriel Mokolo and cartoonists Ramón Esorio Ebalé are well known. And international pop star Anfibio, who toured across Europe, was also a cardiologist on the side, believe it or not! Another notable figure would be "Eric the Eel" Mussambani who just didn't give up at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. You'll typically see the Ibanga white powder dance happening all over, as it is the national dance of the Fang people, typically done with music played by drums, wooden xylophones and thumb pianos. Cassava is the staple food, mashed up into a paste, and famous dishes include peanut cream chicken with boiled plantain and fish with crushed pumpkin seeds served in a banana leaf. And of course many of the dishes include Spanish-influenced ingredients and techniques. You can totally find an interesting African-style paella or coquetas. And that's not the only thing they share with Spain. Once again, because of its linguistic properties, Equatorial Guinea is kind of like this small anomaly that sticks out in Africa. First of all, Gabon, Cameroon, and Nigeria are probably their closest African friends as they have shared centuries of business and culture. Many Fang tribesmen can also be found in these countries as well, which adds a whole other level of kinship. Cameroon did recently shut the border, though, after some controversy with a fisherman being killed and two missing immigrants. It's a tricky situation. China and the US and South Korea were some of the first ones to jump on that oil boom and invest in Equatorial Guinea in the nineties, and today have embassies for each other. Their best friend, though, would probably have to be Spain. Although European colonialism has always left a sour taste in people's mouths, the Equatorial Guineans actually maintain a somewhat decent relationship with the Spanish, and developed quite a close bond, even after they gained independence. Spain still protects them at times of need, and tons of Guineans emigrated to Spain, and the majority of the white population in Equatorial Guinea are Spanish. In conclusion, while the rest of sub-Saharan Africa was squabbling in a cacophony of French and English with a little bit of Portuguese on the side, this little sliver of land was like "Eh, I'm gonna do my own little thing and I'm here to stay. Deal with it." Stay tuned, Eritrea is coming up next!


The republic

As far as the October 1910 Revolution is concerned, a number of valuable studies have been made,[2] first among which ranks Vasco Pulido Valente’s polemical thesis.[title missing] This historian posited the Jacobin and urban nature of the revolution carried out by the Portuguese Republican Party (PRP) and claimed that the PRP had turned the republican regime into a de facto dictatorship.[3] This vision clashes with an older interpretation of the First Republic as a progressive and increasingly democratic regime which presented a clear contrast to Salazar’s ensuing dictatorship.[4]

A republican Constitution was approved in 1911, inaugurating a parliamentary regime with reduced presidential powers and two chambers of parliament.[5] The constitution generally accorded full civil liberties, the religious liberties of Catholics being an exception.[6]


The First Republic was intensely anti-clerical. The leaders of the Republic were secularists and, indeed, were following liberal tradition of disestablishing the powerful role the Catholic Church once held. Historian Stanley Payne points out, "The majority of Republicans took the position that Catholicism was the number one enemy of individualist middle-class radicalism and must be completely broken as a source of influence in Portugal."[7] Under the leadership of Afonso Costa, the justice minister, the revolution immediately targeted the Catholic Church: churches were plundered, convents were attacked and clergy were harassed.[by whom?] Scarcely had the provisional government been installed when it began devoting its entire attention to an anti-religious policy, in spite of the disastrous economic situation. On 10 October – five days after the inauguration of the Republic – the new government decreed that all convents, monasteries and religious orders were to be suppressed. All residents of religious institutions were expelled and their goods confiscated. The Jesuits were forced to forfeit their Portuguese citizenship. A series of anti-Catholic laws and decrees followed each other in rapid succession. On 3 November, a law legalizing divorce was passed and then there were laws to recognize the legitimacy of children born outside wedlock, authorize cremation, secularize cemeteries, suppress religious teaching in the schools and prohibit the wearing of the cassock. In addition, the ringing of church bells to signal times of worship was subjected to certain restraints, and the public celebration of religious feasts was suppressed. The government also interfered in the running of seminaries, reserving the right to appoint professors and determine curricula. This whole series of laws authored by Afonso Costa culminated in the law of Separation of Church and State, which was passed on 20 April 1911.

The republicans were anticlerical and had a "hostile" approach to the issue of church and state separation, like that of the French Revolution, and the future Mexican Constitution of 1917 and Spanish Constitution of 1931.[8] On 24 May 1911, Pope Pius X issued the encyclical Iamdudum which condemned the anticlericalism of the new republic for its deprivation of religious civil liberties and the "incredible series of excesses and crimes which has been enacted in Portugal for the oppression of the Church."[9]

Political parties

The PRP had to endure the secession of its more moderate elements, who formed conservative republican parties such as the Evolutionist Party and the Republican Union. In spite of these splits the PRP, led by Afonso Costa, preserved its dominance, largely due to a brand of clientelist politics inherited from the monarchy.[10] In view of these tactics, a number of opposition forces resorted to violence in order to enjoy the fruits of power. There are few recent studies[clarification needed] of this period of the Republic's existence, known as the ‘old’ Republic. Nevertheless, an essay [title missing] by Vasco Pulido Valente should be consulted,[11] as should the attempt[title missing] to establish the political, social, and economic context made by M. Villaverde Cabral (1988).

The Republic repelled a royalist attack on Chaves in 1912.

The PRP viewed the outbreak of the First World War as a unique opportunity to achieve a number of goals: putting an end to the twin threats of a Spanish invasion of Portugal and of foreign occupation of the colonies and, at the internal level, creating a national consensus around the regime and even around the party.[12] These domestic objectives were not met, since participation in the conflict was not the subject of a national consensus and since it did not therefore serve to mobilise the population. Quite the opposite occurred: existing lines of political and ideological fracture were deepened by Portugal's intervention in the First World War.[13] The lack of consensus around Portugal's intervention in turn made possible the appearance of two dictatorships, led by General Pimenta de Castro (January–May 1915) and Sidónio Pais (December 1917–December 1918).

The "República Nova" ("New Republic")

Sidonismo, also known as Dezembrismo (Eng. Decemberism), aroused a strong interest among historians, largely as a result of the elements of modernity that it contained.[14][15][16][17][18][19] António José Telo has made clear the way in which this regime predated some of the political solutions invented by the totalitarian and fascist dictatorships of the 1920s and 1930s.[20] Sidónio Pais undertook the rescue of traditional values, notably the Pátria (Eng. Homeland), and attempted to rule in a charismatic fashion. A move was made to abolish traditional political parties and to alter the existing mode of national representation in parliament (which, it was claimed, exacerbated divisions within the Pátria) through the creation of a corporative Senate, the founding of a single party (the National Republican Party, unofficially called Partido Sidonista, "Sidonist Party"), and the attribution of a mobilising function to the Leader. The State carved out an economically interventionist role for itself while, at the same time, repressing working-class movements and leftist republicans. Sidónio Pais also attempted to restore public order and to overcome, finally, some of the rifts of the recent past, making the Republic more acceptable to monarchists and Catholics.

Return to the "República Velha" ("Old Republic")

The vacuum of power created by Sidónio Pais' assassination[21] on 14 December 1918 led the country to a brief civil war. The monarchy's restoration was proclaimed in the north of Portugal, as the Monarchy of the North (Monarquia do Norte), on 19 January 1919 and, four days later, a monarchist insurrection broke out in Lisbon. A republican coalition government, led by José Relvas, coordinated the struggle against the monarchists by loyal army units and armed civilians. After a series of clashes the monarchists were definitively chased from Porto on 13 February 1919. This military victory allowed the PRP to return to government and to emerge triumphant from the elections held later that year, having won the usual absolute majority.

It was during this restoration of the "old" Republic that an attempted reform was carried out in order to provide the regime with greater stability. In August 1919 a conservative President was elected – António José de Almeida (whose Evolutionist party had come together in wartime with the PRP to form a flawed, because incomplete, Sacred Union) – and his office was given the power to dissolve Parliament. Relations with the Holy See, restored by Sidónio Pais, were preserved. The President used his new power to resolve a crisis of government in May 1921, naming a Liberal government (the Liberal party being the result of the postwar fusion of Evolutionists and Unionists) to prepare the forthcoming elections. These were held on 10 July 1921 with victory going, as was usually the case, to the party in power. However, Liberal government did not last long. On 19 October a military pronunciamento was carried out during which – and apparently against the wishes of the coup's leaders – a number of prominent conservative figures, including Prime Minister António Granjo, were assassinated. This event, known as the "night of blood"[22] left a deep wound among political elites and public opinion. There could be no greater demonstration of the essential fragility of the Republic's institutions and proof that the regime was democratic in name only, since it did not even admit the possibility of the rotation in power characteristic of the elitist regimes of the nineteenth century.

A new round of elections on 29 January 1922 inaugurated a fresh period of stability, since the PRP once again emerged from the contest with an absolute majority. Discontent with this situation had not, however, disappeared. Numerous accusations of corruption, and the manifest failure to resolve pressing social concerns wore down the more visible PRP leaders while making the opposition's attacks more deadly. At the same time, moreover, all political parties suffered from growing internal faction-fighting, especially the PRP itself. The party system was fractured and discredited.[10][23] This is clearly shown by the fact that regular PRP victories at the ballot box did not lead to stable government. Between 1910 and 1926 there were forty-five governments. The opposition of presidents to single-party governments, internal dissent within the PRP, the party's almost non-existent internal discipline, and its constant and irrational desire to group together and lead all republican forces made any government's task practically impossible. Many different formulae were attempted, including single-party governments, coalitions, and presidential executives, but none succeeded. Force was clearly the sole means open to the opposition if it wanted to enjoy the fruits of power.[24][25]

By the mid-1920s the domestic and international scenes began to favour another authoritarian solution, wherein a strengthened executive might restore political and social order. Since the opposition's constitutional route to power was blocked by the various means deployed by the PRP to protect itself, it turned to the army for support. The armed forces, whose political awareness had grown during the war, and whose leaders had not forgiven the PRP for sending them to a war they did not want to fight, seemed to represent, to conservative forces, the last bastion of "order" against the "chaos" that was taking over the country. Links were established between conservative figures and military officers, who added their own political and corporative demands to the already complex equation. During 1925 there were two attempted military coups - on April 18 and July 19. The military prosecutor was general Oscar Carmona, who refused to fulfill his duties and advocated acquittal of coup plotters.[26]

The Revolution of 28 May 1926 against the last Republican Party government of António Maria da Silva enjoyed the support of most army units and even of most political parties. As had been the case in December 1917, the population of Lisbon did not rise to defend the Republic, leaving it at the mercy of the army.[27] There are few global and up-to-date studies of this turbulent third phase of the Republic's existence.[28][29] Nevertheless, much has been written about the crisis and fall of the regime and the 28 May movement;.[25][30][31][32][33][34]

Heads of state and government

The First Portuguese Republic was an unstable period in the History of Portugal. In a period of 16 years (1910–1926) Portugal had 8 Presidents of the Republic, 1 Provisional Government, 38 Prime Ministers and 1 Constitutional Junta:

Evaluation of the republican experiment and legacy

The First Republic continues to be the subject of an intense debate which is impossible to summarise in these paragraphs.[35][dubious ] Nevertheless, one can distinguish three main interpretations. For some historians, the First Republic was a progressive and increasingly democratic regime. For others, it was essentially a prolongation of the classical liberal regimes of the nineteenth century. A third group, finally, chooses to highlight the regime's revolutionary, Jacobin, and dictatorial nature.

Most historians have emphasized the failure and collapse of the republican dream by the 1920s. José Miguel Sardica in 2011 summarized the consensus of historians:

The current Portuguese flag dates back to the First Republic
The current Portuguese flag dates back to the First Republic

"[…] within a few years, large parts of the key economic forces, intellectuals, opinion-makers and middle classes changed from left to right, trading the unfulfilled utopia of a developing and civic republicanism for notions of "order," "stability" and "security." For many who had helped, supported or simply cheered the Republic in 1910, hoping that the new political situation would repair the monarchy’s flaws (government instability, financial crisis, economic backwardness and civic anomie), the conclusion to be drawn, in the 1920s, was that the remedy for national maladies called for much more than the simple removal of the king […] The First Republic collapsed and died as a result of the confrontation between raised hopes and meager deeds."[36]

Sardica, however, also points up the lasting effects of the republican experiment:

"Despite its overall failure, the First Republic endowed twentieth-century Portugal with an insurpassable and enduring legacy—a renewed civil law, the basis for an educational revolution, the principle of separation between State and Church, the overseas empire (only brought to an end in 1975), and a strong symbolic culture whose materializations (the national flag, the national anthem and the naming of streets) still define the present-day collective identity of the Portuguese. The Republic’s prime legacy was indeed that of memory."[37]


  1. ^ Hugh Kay, Salazar and Modern Portugal, Eyre & Spottiswoode (London), 1970, p. 26
  2. ^ Wheeler, 1972
  3. ^ Pulido Valente, 1982
  4. ^ Oliveira Marques, 1991
  5. ^ Miranda, 2001
  6. ^ Anderson, James Maxwell, The History of Portugal, p. 142, Greenwood Publishing Group, 2000
  7. ^ Payne, A history of Spain and Portugal (1973) 2: 559
  8. ^ Maier, Hans (2004). Totalitarianism and Political Religions. trans. Jodi Bruhn. Routledge. p. 106. ISBN 0-7146-8529-1.
  10. ^ a b Lopes, 1994
  11. ^ 1997a
  12. ^ Teixeira, 1996a
  13. ^ Ribeiro de Meneses, 2000
  14. ^ José Brandão, 1990
  15. ^ Ramalho, 1998
  16. ^ Ribeiro de Meneses, 1998
  17. ^ Armando Silva, 1999
  18. ^ Samara, 2003
  19. ^ Santos, 2003
  20. ^ Teixeira, 2000, pp. 11-24
  21. ^ Medina, 1994
  22. ^ Brandão, 1991
  23. ^ João Silva, 1997
  24. ^ Schwartzman, 1989
  25. ^ a b Pinto, 2000
  26. ^ Gallagher, Tom (11 January 1983). "Portugal: A Twentieth-century Interpretation". Manchester University Press – via Google Books.
  27. ^ Ferreira, 1992a
  28. ^ Marques, 1973
  29. ^ Telo, 1980 & 1984
  30. ^ Cruz, 1986
  31. ^ Cabral, 1993
  32. ^ Rosas, 1997
  33. ^ Martins, 1998
  34. ^ Afonso, 2001
  35. ^ Armando Malheiro da Silva, 2000
  36. ^ E-Journal of Portuguese History. (2011). 9 (1): pp. 1–27.
  37. ^ José Miguel Sardica. The Memory of the Portuguese First Republic throughout the Twentieth Century. (2011).

Further reading

  • Leal, Ernesto Castro. "Parties and political identity: the construction of the party system of the Portuguese Republic (1910–1926)." E-journal of Portuguese History 7#1 (2009): 37–44. Online[permanent dead link]
  • Meneses, Filipe Ribeiro De. Afonso Costa (London: Haus Publishing, 2010); 227 pp. excerpt
  • Sardica, José Miguel. "The Memory of the Portuguese First Republic throughout the Twentieth Century," E-Journal of Portuguese History (Summer 2011) 9#1: 1–27. online
  • Wheeler, Douglas L. "The Portuguese revolution of 1910." Journal of Modern History (1972): 172–194. in JSTOR
  • Wheeler, Douglas L. Republican Portugal: a political history, 1910–1926 (U of Wisconsin Press, 1999)

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