First Portuguese Republic

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Portuguese Republic
Flag of Portugal Coat of arms of Portugal
flag coat of arms
Flag of Portugal (1830) .svg navigation Flag of Portugal.svg
Constitution Constitution of the Republic of Portugal of August 21, 1911
Official language Portuguese
Capital Lisbon
Form of government Parliamentary Republic
Head of state president
Head of government Prime Minister
- 1911

92,391 km²
- 1911

- 1910 to 1911
- 1911 to 2002

Portuguese Real
Portuguese Escudo
Existence period 1910-1926
Time zone UTC ± 0 GMT
License Plate P

In the history of Portugal, the first republic is understood to mean the period from 1910 (abolition of the Portuguese monarchy ) to 1926 (military coup by General Gomes da Costa ) and the establishment of the Estado Novo .

Prehistory: The agony of the monarchy

King Charles I of Portugal - he died in an assassination attempt in 1908

In 1861, King Peter V, the last really popular king, died young and unexpectedly of an epidemic of fever. His two successors, Ludwig I and Karl I , did not succeed in winning the sympathy of their subjects.

In 1873, after the abdication of Amadeus of Savoy, a republic was proclaimed in neighboring Spain . These developments also had an impact on Portugal, the supporters of the republic felt strengthened and founded the first Republican Party in 1876 . The conservative government of António Maria de Fontes Pereira de Melo of the Regeneration Party did not take the new political phenomenon seriously at the beginning. In some cases even the candidacies of Republican candidates, hoping to weaken their main opponents from the Progressive Party .

A series of crises (e.g. a foreign policy crisis with England because of conflicting colonial claims in southern Africa, which clearly demonstrated the weakness of the Portuguese state) and economic problems ( national bankruptcy in 1891) led to an increase in republican currents, which within a short time became a mass phenomenon. In 1881 the newspaper O Século (“the century”) appeared for the first time, and the Republicans thus had a journalistic mouthpiece.

The reaction of the government and the monarchs fluctuated between helpless concession and authoritarian harshness. In 1888, Teófilo Braga , who later became the first president, was elected for the first time a republican member of the Cortes , the Portuguese parliament. Even if the electoral system severely disadvantaged Republicans, u. a. Since the right to vote was tied to a certain minimum property and therefore only a very small part of the population was entitled to vote, the Republicans have since been able to consistently be represented by a few members in parliament.

Emanuel II, the last king of Portugal

The domestic political crisis came to a head when the government of João Franco (1906–1908), after an initially conciliatory stance towards the Republicans, became increasingly authoritarian and began to persecute them through press censorship and arrests. The crisis reached its climax when King Charles and his heir to the throne Ludwig Philipp were assassinated in Lisbon on February 1, 1908 . The new King Emanuel II tried again with a more liberal policy, many of the anti-republican measures of João Franco were withdrawn. It was too late, however.

In addition to their own strength, the republicans were helped by the weakness of the monarchists . These were hopelessly divided among themselves, which of course played into the hands of the Republicans. In addition to the traditional differences of opinion between the two major parties of the monarchy, the Regeneration Party and the Progressive Party, there were also disputes within the political camps. In the final phase of the monarchy, both parties split into various opposing currents, and some of the members of the Progressive Party even migrated to the republican camp.

Transition from monarchy to republic

In 1909 the radical forces prevailed at the party congress of the Republican Party, and the armed revolution was now the party's official goal. On October 3, 1910, Miguel Bombarda , a psychiatrist and thought leader of the Republican movement, was murdered by a mentally ill former patient. Although the act did not seem to have a political background, it led to riots in Lisbon and other major cities in the country.

On October 5th, 1910 at 9 a.m. from the balcony of the Lisbon City Hall, the Republic was proclaimed; a provisional government was formed later that day, led by Republican Teófilo Braga .

Braga was a staunch Republican and already an important writer, intellectual and literary scholar. With his appointment to the head of the provisional government it was hoped that a non-partisan government could be formed.

The new government was strictly anti-clerical , all Jesuit monasteries were closed, the prisons in Lisbon were filled with Catholic priests and friars. King Emanuel II left the country and reached exile in England on October 17, 1910 . Religious instruction was banned, as were all religious references to state acts, and titles of nobility were abolished. The apostolic nuncio left Lisbon in protest. The wearing of religious clothing in public was banned, and civil marriage and divorce were introduced.

After elections to the National Constituent Assembly in 1911 , in which the right to vote was extended for the first time to all adult male Portuguese and which the Republican Party won with a large majority, a new constitution was passed. The monarchy has now officially ended and a bicameral parliament was established. The constitution did not provide for a direct election of the president by the people, rather the president should be elected by parliament. Nor did he have the power to dissolve parliament. With the adoption of the constitution, Teófilo Braga's provisional government ended, and Manuel de Arriaga became the first constitutional president of the republic.

Manuel de Arriaga; Coup and dictatorship of swords

Under Manuel de Arriaga's presidency, João Chagas became first prime minister. His government lasted only three months, however, and in December 1911 the second republican government under Augusto de Vasconcelos took power. The country also experienced the first monarchist uprising as early as 1911, which, however, was suppressed. Universities were founded in Porto and Lisbon, and the centuries-old monopoly of the University of Coimbra was broken.

With the “law of separation” (lei da separação) the separation of state and church was established. The law also tried, however, to place the Catholic Church under the supervision of the state and thus automatically led to a conflict with the Vatican . In its own encyclical "lamdudum in Portugal" (May 24, 1911), the Vatican condemned the new law. Diplomatic relations with the Vatican were later broken off. The church question was to determine the whole policy of the early republic.

Strikes were legalized, a wave of strikes shook the country and alienated the bourgeoisie of the new republic. Afonso Costa , who led the radical wing of the Republican Party, succeeded in asserting himself at the party congress in October 1911. The Republican Party was renamed the Democratic Party (PD) and was henceforth led by Costa. In particular, Costa's harsh anti-clericalism aroused much criticism within the party. In February 1912, António José de Almeida , who did not agree with the party's new direction, left the Democratic Party together with some moderate supporters and founded the Evolutionists (PRE) . Two days later, Brito Camacho also left the Democrats and founded the Unionist Party . The old Republican Party had thus split into three currents. The democrats represented the left, radical part of the party spectrum, the unionists marked the center, the evolutionists the moderate conservatives.

Election fraud was the order of the day. Since parliament could not be dissolved, unstable governments took turns in quick succession. Between 1910 and 1926 the republic had 45 governments.

On July 8, 1912, an attack on Chaves led to the second monarchist uprising, led by Captain Henrique Mitchell de Paiva Couceiro . The two warring lines of the royal family, the supporters of the House of Braganza (legitimists), who were loyal to a descendant of King Michael, who was forced into exile after the Miguelistenkrieg , and the supporters of the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (constitutionalists), who were the deposed king Supported Emanuel II, allied themselves in English exile against the Republic (Treaty of Dover). The uprising was put down and the leaders sentenced to several years in prison. In 1913 the Democratic Party came to power under Afonso Costa, and it also won the elections towards the end of the year. Monarchists carried out a number of bomb attacks in Lisbon. In June 1913 a wave of strikes hit the country and the headquarters of a number of unions were shut down by the government. In December 1914, Azevedo Coutinho , also from the Democratic Party, took over the post of Prime Minister after his election victory.

The climate between the political parties was already poisoned by this point. The government was also weakened by the very controversial discussion about whether Portugal should join the First World War on the side of the Entente .

On January 25, 1915, there was a military coup by conservative army circles against the Azevedo Coutinho government and the Afonso Costa Democratic Party. It was triggered by the negotiations that the government conducted with the Entente powers over Portugal's entry into the First World War, and the government's anti-clerical policy. The putschists dissolved parliament.

On January 28, President de Arriaga appointed the leader of the coup plotters, General Joaquim Pimenta de Castro, as the new Prime Minister. The government formed by him, consisting primarily of the military (dictatorship of swords - Ditadura das Espadas ), governed without a parliament through decrees countersigned by the president. It put an end to the negotiations with the Entente and the anti-church policies of the previous government.

Pimenta de Castro was overthrown on May 14, 1915 by another coup. This coup was carried out by officers who were close to the Democrats and Afonso da Costa. A military junta briefly took power, then José Ribeiro de Castro , another military man close to the Democrats, became the new prime minister. President de Arriaga was carried away by the fall of the military government; he had to resign on May 26th, Teófilo Braga was again interim president until a new presidential election could be held. This took place on October 5, 1915; Bernardino Machado was elected as the new President .

1st presidency of Machado, First World War

Bernardino Machado

After the Democratic Party's victory in the June 1915 elections, Afonso Costa was again prime minister at the end of November. In February 1916, he ordered the confiscation of all German merchant ships in Portuguese waters , whereupon the German Reich declared war on the country on March 9, 1916, followed by Austria-Hungary on March 15 . Portugal officially entered the First World War. Forced by the war, a coalition government was formed, the so-called "government of sacred unity" ( governo da sagrada união , based on the French model of the Union sacrée ), in which all wings of the former Republican Party were represented. The evolutionist José de Almeida became prime minister, while Afonso Costa was finance minister. Brito Camacho refused to join the government, but his unionists split and a section, led by Egas Moniz, supported the new government. The corps led by General Fernando Tamagnini arrived in the Breton port city of Brest in February 1917, was stationed in Aire-sur-la-Lys in the Pas-de-Calais department and was part of the 11th Corps of the 1st British Army under General Henry Horne affiliated. In October 1917 the Portuguese corps consisted of around 56,500 soldiers. By the end of the war , about 2,100 of them were killed, 5,200 were injured and 7,000 were taken prisoners of war .

Demonstrations by farmers against the government resulted in two deaths in Porto in May 1917, and a state of emergency was declared on June 12, 1917 . The Marian apparitions of Fátima and the founding of the republican centrist party also fell during this period .

The soldiers on the Western Front drew attention to themselves with a pamphlet , "The role of dishonor" (Rol de deshonra) , in which the democratic politicians were accused of failure. On December 5, 1917, there was finally a military revolt in Lisbon. Captain Sidónio Pais overthrew the government and took power with a military junta. Afonso Costa was arrested while fleeing, the parliament dissolved, and President Machado had to go into French exile.

Dictatorship of Sidónio Pais, "New Republic"

The dictator Sidónio Pais was assassinated in 1918

Pais proclaimed the "New Republic" , an authoritarian state with a strong president directly elected by the people. Pais was a charismatic and populist politician, his New Republic had strong features of a corporate state and thus anticipated the Estado Novo and the Salazar years.

On April 28, 1918, Pais held a referendum that elected him president. This made him the first president of the country to be directly elected by the people. Parliamentary elections were held at the same time. The party founded by Pais, the National Republican Party , won an overwhelming majority. The monarchists became the second most powerful force. The three republican parties (Democrats, Evolutionalists and Unionists) boycotted the election. Pais tried cautiously to correct the anti-clerical policies of the previous governments, diplomatic relations with the Vatican were restored. However, even Pais could not enforce his politics against the resistance of the evolutionists and monarchists. General strikes and unrest broke out in several cities in October . In the north of the country, a monarchist military junta under Captain Paiva Couceiro took power. Pais hurried to Braga to negotiate with the monarchists and thus prevent a civil war. When he returned to Lisbon, he was shot dead by a union official and former combatant on December 14, 1918 at Rossio train station . With the violent death of Pais, the "New Republic" quickly collapsed.

Return to Democracy, Presidency de Almeida (O Glorioso Satanás)

After Sidónio Pais was assassinated, parliament met and elected a new president. Since Pais had not had time to give his country a new constitution, the presidential election took place again according to the old constitution of 1911 by parliament. Pais's successor was Admiral João do Canto e Castro , a military man who had already held the post of governor of Mozambique during the monarchy . Do Canto e Castro was an open supporter of the monarchists, but was not recognized as head of state by the northern military junta. Its leader, Paiva Couceiro, proclaimed the monarchy in Porto on January 19, 1919. At the same time, the monarchy was also proclaimed in Lisbon, but in contrast to the movement in Porto, the uprising of the monarchists there was quickly suppressed by the government. In Porto, however, the monarchists were able to hold out until the end of February 1919. Union-controlled uprisings and general strikes broke out. President do Canto e Castro announced his resignation (June 1919) because of these unrest, but was initially persuaded by Parliament to remain in office.

The signing of the Treaty of Versailles (June 28, 1919) was a great disappointment for Portugal. Although the country had fought on the side of the victorious powers, it was unable to benefit from the peace, especially not to enlarge its African possessions at the expense of the former German colonies. In contrast, neighboring Spain, which had remained neutral during the war, was able to take advantage of the peace treaty. This led to bitterness and further protests, also against the Democratic Party, as its leader Afonso Costa was the head of the Portuguese delegation at the Versailles negotiations.

In September, a new trade union federation, the General Trade Union Federation (CGT - Confederação Geral do Trabalho) was founded, with some anarchic tendencies, which soon gained great power in the state. The Communist Party was founded (PCP - Partido Comunista Português) and published its own newspaper, the “Red Flag” (A Bandeira Vermelha) . Evolutionists and unionists united to form the Republican Liberal Party.

In October 1919, do Canto e Castro finally resigned, and António José de Almeida , who had led the “government of sacred unity” during the First World War, was elected as his successor. He was supposed to be the only President of the First Republic who managed to complete a full term of office.

The so-called integrists, i.e. the supporters of the monarchy, tried in vain to establish themselves as a party. Some of the Integrists turned their backs on King Emanuel II, who was in exile, disappointed because, in their opinion, he had not given the monarchist junta in Porto enough support. This led to a split within the integrist movement and thereby weakened the monarchists.

Meanwhile, the republic sank into political chaos. During the four years of de Almeida's presidency, the country saw 17 different governments with 14 different prime ministers, including briefly ex-president Machado in 1921, who had returned from exile after the murder of Sidónio Pais (March 2 to 21). An uprising by the Republican National Guard ended the brief Machado government.

The unrest reached new heights on October 19, 1921, when Republican National Guard troops and naval units gathered in Lisbon to overthrow the government of Prime Minister António Granjo . The occasion was Granjo's plans to prosecute one of his predecessors, Captain Liberato Pinto, who was supported by the National Guard, for corruption. The uprising caused a wave of unrest and violence in the capital, with armed gangs breaking into the homes of many leading politicians. Prime Minister Granjo was assassinated. These events went down in Portuguese history as the “ Lisbon Night of Blood(A Noite Sangrenta) .

In 1923 the term of office of President de Almeida ended and Manuel Teixeira Gomes was elected as his successor.

Teixeira Gomes

The presidential elections of 1923 showed a divided parliament, Teixeira Gomes was only elected in the third ballot, his most important candidate was ex-President Machado.

The two years of Teixeira Gomes' presidency were also marked by instability. Seven governments took turns during his presidency. Especially since the fall of the Alfredo Rodrigues Gaspar government on November 22, 1924, the first republic found itself in a permanent crisis, from which it was not to free itself until its end. In April 1925, parts of the army under Sinel de Cordes attempted a coup, but the coup attempt was fought again by the government.

President Teixeira felt that the Republicans were getting weaker day by day, while the differences in the Republican camp grew bigger every day. Since the constitution did not give the president the power to oppose this development, he finally gave up and resigned on December 11, 1925. A few days after his resignation he left Portugal and was not to enter the country until his death in 1941.

Machado's second presidency, end of the republic

After Teixeira's resignation, Bernardino Machado was elected President of the Republic for the second time. However, he could no longer save the republic. The party landscape continued to fragment: José Domingos dos Santos left the Democratic Party with his supporters and founded the Republican Party of the Democratic Left. There were also further breaks on the right-hand side of the party spectrum. The Nationalist Party excluded Cunha Leal, who founded the Liberal Republican Union.

The last act of the republic began on May 28, 1926. On this day General Gomes da Costa spoke out against the republic, the signal for the uprising, during a troop visit to Braga. Military units across the country supported the general. General Gama Ochôa and General Fragoso Carmona joined the uprising, and the cities of Mafra and Évora , where the two generals were stationed, renounced their government. Only in Lisbon and Porto were there troops who supported the government. In Porto, the troops were commanded by General Sousa Dias, who was on the side of the Republican government, but his NCOs quickly made it clear to the general that they too supported the coup of Gomes da Costa, so that he was on his troops when attempting the coup knock down, couldn't count. The government tried to move loyal troops to the north of the country, but failed when rail workers on strike prevented troop transport. Two days later the republic was over. President Machado dissolved parliament and handed over government power to Captain Mendes Cabeçadas in the hope that he would manage to save the republic one more time. On May 31, 1926, Machado finally resigned, appointed Mendes Cabeçadas as his successor and fled the country.

Mendes Cabeçadas met with Gomes da Costa in Coimbra. As a result of this meeting, a military junta was formed that included Mendes Cabeçadas, Gomes da Costa and General Ochôa. Mendes Cabeçada became head of state and head of government, but the real power lay with Gomes da Costa, who as war minister became de facto commander in chief of the army. In the new government of Mendes Cabeçada, the Catholic economist António de Oliveira Salazar was appointed finance minister for the first time, and he would later play a prominent role.

The new military junta, in which Mendes Cabeçada was a supporter of the republic and Gomes da Costa was an opponent of the republic, lasted only a week. On June 6, 1926, General Gomes da Costa and his troops marched into Lisbon. Mendes Cabeçada refused to arm the Lisbon population because he feared a bloodbath and the destruction of large parts of the city. So the republican camp had nothing to oppose the troops of Gomes da Costa. On June 17, 1926, Gomes da Costa dissolved the military junta, replaced Mendes Cabeçada as President and Prime Minister and took over both posts himself. Two days later, Mendes Cabeçada went into exile. Salazar no longer belonged to the new government and withdrew to Coimbra. The constitution has now been officially suspended and the Communist Party banned.

This ended the first Portuguese republic. A military dictatorship followed, which gradually led to an authoritarian corporate state, the Estado Novo , which some historians also call fascist . Only in 1974 (cf. Carnation Revolution ) was Portugal supposed to return to democracy .

See also

Web links

Commons : First Portuguese Republic  - collection of images, videos and audio files

supporting documents

  1. ^ Richard Herr: What Was Meant by a Republic in 1910 . In: Richard Herr and António Costa Pinto (Eds.): The Portuguese Republic at One Hundred . 1st edition. University of California, Berkeley 2012, ISBN 978-0-9819336-2-7 , pp. 25-36 .
  2. on the negotiations see here
  3. The Portuguese in the First World War
  4. 1,831 soldiers rest in the Portuguese military cemetery in Richebourg . Most of them died in the Battle of the Lys in April 1918. The cemetery became a symbol of Portugal's commitment in the First World War.