To the barracks: the President, the military and democratic consolidation in Portugal (1976–1980)

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After two turbulent years in which different pathways for the future of the political and institutional framework of Portugal clashed, the country began a process of consolidation of the democratic institutions delineated between 1975/6. However, the role played by the military in the fall of the previous dictatorial regime and the fragility of the new democratic institutions did not allow their immediate withdrawal from political life. The President of the Republic was a military man and the political parties had agreed to maintain an unelected sovereign body, the Council of the Revolution, which only dissolved in 1982. Based on primary sources that only recently became available, this article presents some elements that help to understand the success of democratic consolidation in Portugal. This long process should not be interpreted as a confrontation between civilians, desirous to put an end to military tutelage, and the military, who at all costs sought to keep their privileges. The dividing line should be placed between those who defended the maintenance of the status quo, and the supporters of military subordination to the civil power.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalEuropean Review Of History-Revue Europeenne D Histoire
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2017


  • Democratic consolidation
  • Armed forces
  • Civil-military relations
  • Portugal
  • Introduction


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