Recent Political History of Portugal
Being one of the oldest nation-states in Europe, Portugal has a long and rich political history. However, because this thesis is about recent communications policies, in this chapter, we will merely concentrate on the elements that we consider to be essential to the development of our research.Yet, before concentrating on the main features of national political history,we will start by briefly profiling the country, presenting its general characteristics in terms of geography, state and society, and the economy.
For the purposes of this study we will consider Portugal's political history and its policy-making process departing from the installation of the Salazar rule, the dictatorial regime which lasted from 1926 to 1974. Twenty years after the 1974 Revolution1, the impact of this long-standing regime is still noticeable in the political and administrative culture of the country. The policy-making process still reveals impressive similarities with the one put in place during the authoritarian rule in aspects such as the personalism and centralisation of the government's actions, the emptying of the National Assembly's power, among others aspects. The same applies to public administration which remained largely unchanged since the coup d'etat.
From what is going to be said about the political
processes both in the recent past and in the actuality, one expects to
have a clearer view of the wider national context in which communications
policy is necessarily integrated. Although one cannot read any particular
aspects of communications from a general political framework, we believe
that a general set of communications policy characteristics - which will
be tested empirically in the following chapters - can be inferred from
2. Profile of the Country
Due to its recent political history and economic/social underdevelopment, Portugal has not been properly studied in the Western European context. Portugal could not be understood within the general framework of the less developed countries (LDCs) neither within the framework of the modern industrialised societies. Portugal was a colonial power until 1974 and its politics and institutions were fundamentally different from those of the LDCs. At the same time, Portugal was not an industrial society and, in this sense, it could not be integrated in the so-called advanced industrial societies (see e.g. Schmitter, 1994; Opello, 1985). Indeed, Portugal was simultaneously the centre of its colonial empire and the periphery of Europe (see Santos, 1992, 1993, 1994).
Despite the impressive economic growth, particularly
after Portugal's accession to the EEC, the country has not become a core
member state and its intermediate position has remained largely unmodified.
'Portugal is a society of intermediate development (or semi-peripheric2).
Some of its social characteristics (population growth rates, laws and institutions,
some consumption practices, etc.) are close to those of more developed
societies whilst others (collective infrastructures, cultural policies,
type of industries, etc.) are close to those of less developed societies'
(Santos, 1994:53). Economically, the country is the second poorest in the
EU, with GDP per head (using purchasing power parities) only 56% of the
EU average in 1990, ahead of Greece at 49% and behind Ireland at 68% (The
Economist Intelligence Unit, 1994:11).
Portugal is a small country (92,390 sq Km) sharing with Spain the Iberian Peninsula. Having one of the lowest birth rates in the world (1.5 children per woman of child bearing age), its population has been declining since 1985 to 9,853,000 in 1991 (INE census). Most of its population lives in the Atlantic coast, mainly between the two main urban centres, Lisbon (the capital) and Oporto, in the North. In addition to the European continental territory, the country has two autonomous regions: the Azores and Madeira islands. Macau is a territory next to China which will be under Portuguese administration until 1999 whilst East Timor, also a territory legally under Portuguese administration, was invaded by Indonesia and is under its control. Portugal has close links with its former colonies: Brazil, Angola, Mozambique, Guinea-Bissau, Cape Verde and S. Tomé e Príncipe. With its former territorial possessions in India (Goa, Damão and Diu), Portugal has almost no connection as they are perceived as being of no strategic relevance.
Having their own political institutions (regional parliament and regional government), the autonomous regions were given wide powers by the Constitution (version 1992: Art. 227, 228, 229). Both have legislative and executive powers to deal with issues concerned directly with the regions, but they cannot vote any decision or exercise powers which contradicts the Constitution or general laws of the Portuguese Republic. Madeira and the Azores are poorer than continental Portugal and have highly centralised regional governments: lack of political and civil liberties are frequently reported in continental newspapers.
The mainland is divided politically into municípios (can be compared to councils) and freguesias (very small councils). These two forms of local government are almost totally dependent on central government as they get most of their income from it (local taxation is practically non-nexistent) (see Ruivo, 1993). Freguesias are all too small to have any significant power and even municípios - with the exception of those corresponding to big cities such as Lisbon and Oporto - have to struggle to put their views across. Significantly, although the 1976 Constitution contemplated the creation of administrative regions (Art.255-262), further legislation to implement the Constitutional provisions has never been introduced. The creation of these authorities, regionally elected, would erode central government's control and consequently is perceived as a threat.
Although successive governments were not prepared to put into practice Constitutional provisions, there was a pressing need to co-ordinate regional programmes, and regional co-ordination commissions were set up. These are extensions of the central government and they do not represent the specific interests of a given area. The social democrat government created five regional co-ordination commissions on a top down basis (North, Centre, Lisbon and Tagus Valley, Alentejo and Algarve) which camouflages extreme regional asymmetries between the coast and the interior. Most of the urban centres, services and industry are in the coast whilst the interior is neglected by politicians and abandoned to old people and those who cannot emigrate or leave for the main cities3. Yet, most official national and international statistics neglect this reality and portray a fairly balanced regional picture.
The flows of the Portuguese population are
far from being only from the interior to the coast. Particularly since
the 1960's, a steady flow of people, mainly unskilled workers from rural
areas, have left the country. The Institute for the Support of Emigrants
to the EU estimated in December 1992 that over 4,5 million, or more than
two-fifths of the resident domestic population have emigrated. Around 1,6
million Portuguese passport holders are in Latin America, 1,2 million in
Europe (mainly France, Switzerland and Germany), 900,000 in North America
and 600,000 in South Africa (quoted in The Economist Intelligence Unit,
1994:12-13). Yet the number of foreigners in Portugal, mainly from Brazil
and from Portuguese Speaking African Countries, has also been growing steadily.
Official figures4 are not reliable
as most of these immigrants are living illegally in the country, but it
has been estimated that overall there are more than 300,000 immigrants
2.2. State and Society
After the 1974-76 revolutionary period, Portugal became, according to its Constitution, a democratic Republic. The Head of State is the President of the Republic (currently Mário Soares) but the core of the decision-making is the Prime Minister (currently Cavaco Silva). Cavaco Silva, from the Social Democratic Party (PSD) has been in power since 1985 (with absolute majority for the past eight years). The Portuguese state apparatus and government have a long tradition of authoritarianism and they have been - and still are - perceived as highly inefficient and non-accountable to citizens.
As Santos points out, in societies of intermediate development, the state tends to be externally weak and internally strong. The state's strength is not based on its ability to govern by consensus but on its ability to mobilise different levels of social coercion, either under a democratic form (through populism and clientelism) or under dictatorial rule (1994:61). Although Portugal adopted - 20 years ago - a set of democratic institutions, its authoritarian 'administrative logic remained intact' (Santos, 1993a:44) and, consequently 'discretionary and clientelist' (Santos, 1993a:44). Contrary to what happened in most European countries, the Portuguese state never skilfully developed a social welfare system.
Even accepting that in some cases the structure is there, state services such as health, education, transport and communications are poorly conceived and are far from the citizens' needs (e.g. infant mortality is still the highest in the OECD countries; 40% of the Portuguese children fail to complete their education, against an EU average of 15%5). 'But if Portugal does not have a welfare state, it has however a strong welfare society informally organised according to traditional models of social solidarity' (Santos, 1994:64). Different types of assistance coming from relatives, neighbours and friends provides the real basis of social support and partly compensates for the state's shortcomings.
The social apathy towards the state is the most serious threat against the development of a qualitative democracy. Confirming studies done in 1991, Cabral (1995) has shown that 60% of the Portuguese population is not involved in any sort of civic association and does not consider that it has the ability to influence in any way the country's evolution. This obvious distance between the state and societial culture is partly due to the authoritarian tradition which contributed to the people's belief that it is best not to be involved in politics. Additionally, for the one fourth of the population which lives in extreme poverty there are no rewards from the system as the state does not provide adequate social benefits. Finally, the lack of interest in politics is also related to the educational level of the population which is very low compared with other Western European countries - 79.9% of the working population is either illiterate (10.4%) or has primary education (up to 14 years old) (69.5%), and only 6.9% has a university degree (INE, Inquérito ao Emprego 1992, quoted in Pinto, 1994:324).
Portugal is one of the few truly nation-states
in Europe. Despite its heterogeneous population there is a high level of
social cohesion and ethnic/regional minorities do not pose significant
problems either to the structure or to the territorial dimension of the
state as, for instance, in the Spanish case with the Basques and Catalans.
2.3. The Economy
After the 1974 revolution, Portugal faced one decade of poor economic performance. The industry and agriculture declined in importance mainly due to lack of political direction, bad management and turbulent international markets. Nationalisations of March 1975 brought an estimate 53% of industrial fixed investment into public ownership. 'This was followed by a period during which much state investment was poured into industries which were basically uncompetitive and had shrinking markets, including base chemicals, shipbuilding and steel' (The Economist Intelligence Unit, 1994:14). Meanwhile, large rural properties in the South were also nationalised and agriculture in general - the backbone of the economy - remained largely inefficient.
Since the mid-1980's, coinciding with the Portugal's
entry into the EC and with the first Cavaco Silva's pro-business government,
dramatic changes have taken place. A large influx of foreign investment,
rising exports, and EC grants has had a remarkable impact on the country's
finances and on consumer confidence. Just like the other OECD countries,
Portugal's economy has shifted towards the service sector whose contribution
to gross domestic product (GDP) is around 60% (see table 1).
Table 1: Contribution to gross domestic product (% of total)
|Agriculture forestry & fishing||26||16||10||6||5|
|Industry & Construction||36||46||38||40||36|
|GDP at factor cost||100||100||100||100||100|
The first Cavaco Silva's majority government (1987-1991) corresponded to a period of enormous economic growth. Between 1986 and 1991 the GDP increased at an average annual rate of 4.2%- well above the EC average. The 'euphoric growth' - as the Financial Times Survey puts it (14 March 1995) - of the late 1980's has been supported to a large extent by EC grants as shown in table 2. On average Portugal received 1.6% of its GDP in net aid from the EC, but more than double this in 1992 (3.7% of GDP), in which year EC grants were the mainstay of economic growth (The Economist Intelligence Unit, 1994:42).
Table 2: European Community financial flows ($m)
|Regional fund (FEDER)||408||400||520||1,019||2,041|
|Agricultural funds (FEOGA)||289||353||553||678||1,030|
|Social Fund (FSE)||236||225||208||185||859|
|Industry Fund (PEDIP)||54||64||123||140||157|
|Reimbursements & others||171||220||197||60||44|
>From the mid-1980's until early 1990's both the services sector and the industry did well. Foreign investment in automotive and paper industries was quite relevant whilst construction regained importance due to EU-funded infrastructure investment. Traditional industries such as textile, clothing and tourism maintained its importance. Still, despite political stability and EU grants, the 1990's would see the 'newly acquired glitter beginning to tarnish' (The Economist, Country Report, nº2, 1991). In 1991 - when the second PSD majority government began - the GDP growth fell to 2.1% and the following year it fell further to 1.5%. Unemployment started to rise and foreign investors no longer found the country almost irresistible (Financial Times Survey, 8 November 1993). Since 1993 economic growth has been inferior to the EU average: '1993 was not only the recession year but the beginning of a three-year period in which the national economy did not stop diverging from the EU's (Expresso, Economia, 24 September 1994:1).
Exporting three-quarters of its products to EU member-states, Portugal benefits from European economic growth. Portugal exports mainly textiles, clothing, footwear, electric and non-electric machinery, transport equipment, forest products (pulp, paper, cork, wood), food products, chemicals, plastics, metals and minerals. Yet it has had a consistent trade deficit which is due mainly to its high net imports of machinery, transport, energy and food products (in 1993 Portugal exported a total of 2,469.8 billion escudos and imported a total of 3,900.7 billion escudos).
In terms of employment, Portugal is dominated
by very small firms (91% of all companies have less than five workers)
and it is reported to be the country where it is cheapest to employ (the
minimum legal wage to employ production workers, for instance, is around
£200 whilst the national average is around £400). Official
unemployment figures, which are highly unreliable, showed unemployment
to be around 8.5% in 1984-86 and then to have fallen to 5.0% by 1989 and
to 4.1% in 1991-92, having risen again in 1993 to 5.5%. Still, what is
quite relevant in Portugal is the level of underemployment.
3. The Political Dictatorship (1926-1974)
The Portuguese authoritarian regime which ruled the country for half a century was brought to an abrupt end by a coup'etat in 1974 led by young officers of the Armed Forces. Contrary to most dictatorships established after the First World War, it did not take the name of the single parties (e.g. Fascism and Nazism). The regime was strongly identified with its leader, Oliveira Salazar, and it became known as Salazarismo. Thus, Salazarism6 is often considered to be the entire 1926-1974 authoritarian period and not solely the period between 1928 (when Salazar joined the government as Finance minister 7) and 1968 when he was removed due to a stroke and substituted by another academic, Marcello Caetano. As Cruz points out, the initial military dictatorship gained political relevance because of the direction given by Salazar and the final years of Marcelismo, despite its attempted reforms, were more continuity than evolution (1988:11).
Although consensus has not been achieved among
scholars 8 on the identification
of the main characteristics of Salazarism, it is widely acknowledged that
it cannot be fully understood in the context of European fascism. Recognising
similarities with Fascism and Nazism, Cruz argues that Salazarism distanced
itself from these regimes at several levels. Ideologically, it had a Catholic
basis and renounced totalitarianism 9;
constitutionally it was an hybrid regime: full democracy was rejected but
a representative electoral system was designed; despite its military origins,
Salazarism was not a militarised regime (1988:37). To sum up, the regime
can be seen as 'anti-liberal nationalism, anti-democratic authoritarianism
and anti-socialist corporatism' (1988:37). Yet, the Salazarist state was
not omnipotent but limited (theoretically at least) by morality and law
and that is basically what kept it apart from the other European right-wing
dictatorships (Cruz, 1988:50). Other authors - when comparing Salazarism
to Fascism and Nazism - put an emphasis on its lack of subversive ideology
and deep conservative nature (see e.g. Martins, 1969; Lucena, 1976, 1984;
Pinto, 1990). Indeed, Salazar and the regime's elite were keen in controlling
the country, maintaining order and stability, without actually transforming
it. Lucena (1976) calls it 'Fascism without Fascist movement'.
3.1. A Brief Historical Overview
The ending of the Monarchy in 1910 was followed by an ebullient Republican period during which Portugal had 45 different governments in less than 16 years. 'The most revolutionary of Latin American States was never as unstable as the Portuguese Republic...After 16 years of Republicanism the country was prepared to try anything else', stated Nowell (quoted in Antunes, 1990:32). Indeed, on the 28th of May 1926, the military would put an end - although without any clear alternative - to the ephemeral Republic. '[The Armed Forces] were united solely in the protest against the partidocracia, the parliamentary inefficiency, the governmental instability, the discredit of institutions and social upheaval' (Cruz, 1988:39). The First Republic had failed to develop a party system capable of mobilising and controlling popular participation. So, a group of young army officers established a military dictatorship which lasted two years. Party politics were eliminated while the military promised to restore order to social and economic life.
In a short period of time though, it became clear that the military lacked expertise to run the country and the ideological vacuum was politically hazardous, therefore the leader of the military government, General Oscar Carmona, decided to appoint a civilian, Oliveira Salazar, to the government. Salazar - at that time a professor of Law and Economics at Coimbra University - took his place as minister of Finance in 1928 and became prime minister in 1932.
In Salazar's inauguration speech as minister of Finance, he stated the vast powers he has been given over other ministries (Salazar speech, 28.04.1928 quoted in Figueiredo, 1976:82-83). In practice, he gained the right to veto any governmental spending and his firm grip over the executive machine would soon become bluntly obvious. With the government spending under control and with economic and fiscal reforms, Salazar was able not only to balance the budget but to produce a surplus in his first years in power. It gave him great credit and prestige. Salazar was then a rising political figure and, despite internal conflicts, he was invited by the President of the Republic to form a new government after the crisis which removed the former head of the executive, Domingos Oliveira, in February 1932.
Once the most acute financial problems have been solved, it was time to consolidate the new regime. Salazar, already the main ideologue of the new order, started developing his ideas and discussing them with the military. The basic thoughts at that time were around the construction of a strong republican and corporatist state under the moral principles of the Catholic Church. Salazar wanted to preserve Portugal as a rural and religious society, where industrialisation, democracy and other modernising influences would be excluded. According to Oppelo, the talks with the military occurred in a smooth way because (1) Salazar, who had by this time become certain of his own intentions, began to articulate his corporative model and had developed concrete proposals for its implementation; (2) the military was sympathetic to the corporatist solution; (3) corporatism had also appeared in Italy, France and Spain; and (4) corporatism promised a middle way between liberalism and socialism which could be used to coopt the broad middle of the spectrum between monarchists and republicans (1985:53-54).
In the early 1930's, the political ideology of Salazar was already being diffused by himself and his close allies such as Marcello Caetano, Rolão Preto and Teotónio Pereira. The benefits of a strong state and of political and economic nationalism were high on the agenda and parties were fiercely attacked as being the root cause of instability and conflict (see e.g. Salazar speech, 17.07.1931, quoted in Peres, 1954). As parties would not have a place in this new regime, participation was to be organised according to natural groupings. Organising and controlling participation was the role of the state. The natural groups were to form the foundation on which the corporatist system of representation was to be constructed. At the grassroots level were to be the families, municipalities, people's houses, fishermen's houses, syndicates and guilds. At the regional level, there were unions and federations which were to encompass the smaller units below them. On the top of the system, there were the corporations, which represented the units below and were organized according to economic sectors. This entire apparatus was represented in the Corporative Chamber (Opello, 1985:54-55). Indeed, the Salazar's so-called corporatist regime would be formally outlined in the 1933 Constitution.
The year of 1933 was then crucial in the setting up of the Salazar regime. On the 19th of March, the Constitution defining the New State as a 'unitary and corporative republic' (Art.5) was approved in a national referendum. Corporatism was accepted, although its implementation would later prove extremely difficult. Once the first Constitutional government, led by Salazar, was formed, a wide range of measures that followed were taken in order to consolidate the new order. In political terms, people were either nominated or elected (by non-universal and discriminatory mechanisms) to the other organs of sovereignty: the President of the Republic, the National Assembly and the Corporative Chamber. Because parties were suppressed, the União National, supposedly to embrace all parties, also became part of the institutional framework.
From the social point of view, so-called corporatist legislation establishing people's houses, syndicates and guilds and the like was issued whilst previous workers rights were revoked. In 1933, the national Secretariat for Propaganda 10 , lead by António Ferro, was set up and predictably censorship came to the fore. Further repressive mechanisms were soon developed by the political police 11 which would specifically target opponents of the regime. 'The construction of the regime can be characterised by pronounced state authoritarianism, by a political, socio-economic dirigisme, by an intensification of the official nationalist propaganda , by a reinforcement of political and administrative repression and by political control over the labour movement and the opposition' (Cruz, 1988:41).
Due to a complex management of influences, Portugal managed to stay neutral during the Second World War and, despite the defeat of the right-wing dictatorships in Europe, Salazar's position was not seriously threatened. He argued that it was totalitarianism, not authoritarianism which was actually defeated in the war and, furthermore, because all interests and activities were represented in the corporative structure, the regime could be understood as an organic democracy (Salazar speeches quoted in Cruz, 1988:42). Although the regime survived the war and, indeed benefited from it in economic terms 12, it failed to invest in the modernisation of the country: state services were kept to a bare minimum, traditional agricultural structures were not reformed and no appropriate stimulus was given to the industry. The country continued vastly to underperform on its potential for growth 13 , while basic political rights such as universal suffrage, free trade unions and freedom of expression continued to be denied.
Before the wars of independence started in the African colonies in the early 1960's, the regime was only gravely at risk once, during the 1958 presidential elections. Despite the very limited pluralism, there was a revival of opposition in the 1950's and the outspoken General Humberto Delgado, who promised the restoration of a truly democratic regime, managed to fight the Salazar's candidate, Américo Tomáz. Delgado united the traditionally divided opposition and gained widespread support. Yet he lost the probably rigged elections and was found murdered five years later.
Domestic opposition and international developments in the early 1960's led to internal political hardening and progressive external isolation. After the risky electoral episode, the Indian Union occupied the Portuguese possessions of Goa, Damão e Diu. Also in 1961, the Angolan independence war broke out and spread to Guinea-Bissau (1963) and to Mozambique (1964) 14 . Salazar perceived these events as an organised movement to destroy the 'multi-continental' and 'multi-racial' Portuguese Nation. These events were not directly inter-related but Salazar was 'aged, hurt and distressed' (Caetano, 1974:26) and understood them as such. From then on, as Santos points out, colonialism gradually became the ultimate essence of the regime (1992:25).
While internally, the government was determined to keep strict control over law and order, externally the international community was strongly hostile towards Portugal. Sanctions were imposed, diplomatic relations were cut off and the country was even expelled from international agencies such as UNESCO in 1971. Albeit heavy handed, the regime was having to cope with an increasing number of difficulties: the war effort was a terrible financial 15 and psychological burden; the university protests were increasingly more frequent and poverty was so acute that 'by 1974, around one in five Portuguese citizens had emigrated to Europe or the Americas' (The Economist Intelligence Unit, 1994:4-4).
The Marcelist period (1968-1974) did
not substantially alter the status quo. Marcello Caetano failed to introduce
tangible reforms and internal divisions were coming to the fore. Before
the military coup d'etat, the regime was not only being attacked from outside
but from inside too, as it became evident that it did not have the capacity
to reform itself. Even traditional allies like the Catholic Church 16
and economic groups 17 protected
by Salazar and Marcello were distancing themselves from the regime and
speaking up for credible reforms. The regime, that for so long had encouraged
social apathy and bureaucratic politics was brought down by the Armed Forces
with almost no resistance. As Schmitter has pointed out, the reasons for
the overthrow of the authoritarian rule lay within the regime itself, not
outside in its relations with civil society (1974:20).
3.2. The Policy-making Process
The 1933 Constitution defined the framework of the Salazar regime and remained, despite the revisions 18, its institutional cornerstone until the 1974 revolution. The sovereignty of the Sate lay upon four distinctive institutions: the Head of the State, the National Assembly, the Government and the Courts (Art. 71). The Head of Sate, in fact the President of the Republic, was to be elected every seven years (Art. 72) and its main task was to nominate and dismiss the president of the Ministers Council and the ministers themselves (Art.81). The National Assembly was expected to legislate, uphold and revoke laws (Art.91). The Corporatist Chamber was granted an advisory role by the Constitution. Its main task was to give written advice about all proposals or law projects before being discussed in the National Assembly (Art.103). The Government was composed of the President of the Council (of Ministers) and the ministries (Art.106). The President of the Council could directly run more than one ministry, was supposed to provide leadership to all ministries, and was accountable to the President of the Republic (Art. 106, 107).
Beyond this formalistic legal framework lay a very different reality. In practical terms, the head of state was not the President of the Republic but the President of the Council of Ministers (Salazar from 1932 to 1968 and Marcello from 1968 to 1974). Successive Presidents of the Republic 19 turn out to be representative figures rather than effectual political actors (see e.g. Campinos, 1978). The President of the Republic was dependent on the President of the Council of Ministers because his candidacy would be proposed by the União Nacional which was led by the President of the Council and, since 1958 20, he was elected by a special Colégio Eleitoral also led by the President of the Council.
Indeed, the Council was the core of the decision-making process and the sole locus of actual power. To perform government tasks, Salazar surrounded himself with a set of trusted individuals and personal acquaintances often from the academia. Other political organs designed to provide consultation were, in fact, of minimal weight.
Under the jurisdiction of the President of the Council of Ministers was a supra ministerial organisation known as the Presidency of the Council, headed by an adjunct to the premier who normally had ministerial status. Within the Council itself there were co-ordinating ministers, men who held dual ministerial appointments: the Minister of National Defence who was also the Minister of Army, the Minister of Finance who also held the portfolio of Minister of the Economy, the Minister of Public Works who exercised jurisdiction over Communications, and the Minister for Corporations and Social Security who had the position of Minister of Public Health and Welfare as well. Within this constellation of key ministerial positions, represented by the consolidation of cabinet posts by combining jurisdiction over pairs of related ministries, were the Minister of Interior and the Overseas Minister. Finally, there were the remaining ministerial appointments: the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Navy, Justice and Education (Graham, 1973:15).
Immediately below the ministers of state were the secretaries and under-secretaries of state. These men in effect supervised the government's most important programmes and were responsible for the implementation of policy in major public sectors assigned to the jurisdiction of individual ministries. Although these positions of secretary and under-secretary antedated the creation of the New State, it was only toward the end of Salazar's rule and more especially under Marcello Caetano that a clear-cut hierarchy of authority was established (Graham, 1974:30). This combined set of ministries, secretaries and under-secretaries constituted not only the policy-making locus but also the implementing core of the regime's decisions.
The executive's supreme power over the whole political apparatus was only possible - as Cruz (1988:97) states - due to a combination of inter-related factors:
- the subalternisation of the Head of State (President of the Republic) to the President of the Council of Ministers, and
- the personalisation of government's actions and structure
In practice, the Salazar regime transformed itself into a governmental dictatorship, or indeed, into a 'personal dictatorship of the President of the Council' (Cruz, 1988:97, emphasis in the original). Under Salazar, the political process could hardly have been more centralised. The state apparatus was formally highly complex, but all major political decisions were taken by Salazar himself with the advice and support of a very few senior politicians, frequently close friends.
Once the government became the true legislating body, the National Assembly never fulfilled its conceptual tasks. It neither legislated nor exercised any proper control over the government's activities. Its role was largely one of 'ratifying and legitimising decisions already arrived at in the bureaucratic arena' (Graham, 1973:18). The root causes for the emptying of its theoretical functions cannot be solely explained by the government's centralising conduct. The National Assembly lacked legitimacy as a representative organ. The elections of MPs (deputados) were organised in such a restrictive manner that they did not have 'any credibility' (Serrão and Marques, 1992, Vol.XII:118). Suffrage was not universal 21, the authorities were allowed to refuse applications on the grounds that some potential MPs defended ideas against 'social discipline', the União Nacional controlled on its own the electoral processes (vote rigging was believed to be widespread), and last but not least, there was no freedom of expression and association. The National Assembly was an instrumental component of the regime and even when internal divisions did occur, it never challenged the government's endless power.
Second to the National Assembly as an advisory body was the Corporative Chamber conceived by Salazar as a stage where social, economic, cultural and religious interests could be represented. 'Better than any other institution it offered an insight into the country's reputational elites, those whom the regime would acknowledge for their prestige and eminence in Portuguese life' (Graham, 1974:33). Beyond this body were the corporations 'which in theory should have become the cement of the Corporate State, but which always remained somewhat vacuous edifices' (Graham, 1974:33). For a largely uneducated and rural society it was difficult to see what could be the possible benefits of such a complex network of corporate institutions. Salazar himself is believed to have lost interest in the implementation of the corporate structure.
Although the 'imaginary of corporatism' - as Graham (1974:15) calls it - was long cultivated as part of official ideology, Salazar never truly led a state with such characteristics. Moreover, throughout Marcelismo, Portuguese corporatism continued to be 'partial and subordinate' (Lucena, 1985:859). Opello states that Salazar failed to institutionalise corporatism because of the existence of a powerful, highly centralised administrative system in Portugal: 'Behind the façade of corporatism, the actual policy process was dominated by a bureaucratic elite that made decisions without reference to inputs from the corporations, which were in theory designed to link the citizens to the decisional process' (1985:58). Corporations were in practice state agencies run by civil servants appointed by central government.
Popular involvement in the decision-making process was impossible both through corporations and through the União Nacional. The União Nacional was not formally a party but a civic association. Salazar and Marcello always maintained that the New State was not a single party regime. Still, it was supposed to ensure that all elements of the Nation would intervene in the 'political and administrative life and in the legislating process' (Manifesto of the União Nacional quoted in Cruz, 1988:162). But, in fact, it never really functioned to communicate demands and support for the regime. Like corporations, the União Nacional became little more than an administrative arm of the state (Wiarda, 1977).
Participation in political life was impossible for those not picked by the established order. Both the overall state apparatus and the public in general were controlled. Opposition was suppressed systematically by the political police, civil servants against the regime would be sacked, the media were censored and the people were targeted by the regime's propaganda. Repressive measures taken by the political police varied throughout the time, but they were effective in preventing opposition from seriously challenging the regime (except during the 1958 presidential election). The civil service was also politically cleansed. The government determined that magistrates, public servants, military workers and autarcas (local government officials) would be dismissed if they demonstrated a spirit of opposition towards the government's national politics. Furthermore, since the early days of Salazarism civil servants had to sign a declaration of honour stating that they would repudiate subversive ideas. Marcello continued this policy of political control over public administration (Cruz, 1988:89-90).
The public in general were controlled through censorship and propaganda (see Chapter V) which were the cornerstones of the regime's strategy for mass pacification. The aim was not to transform people into active political individuals but to pacify them and prevent social conflict (Cruz, 1988:79). In addition to the government's deliberate measures of demobilisation and de-politisation, the Portuguese society was largely uneducated (see table 3) and unprepared to get involved in politics. In practice, the political linkage between the citizenry and the government was cut off. The regime's highly centralised system virtually isolated decision-makers from those they were theoretically supposed to represent and serve.
Table 3: Illiteracy figures throughout Salazarism,
Population over 7 years old
4. The consolidation of a Democratic Regime
When Marcello Caetano came to power in 1968, the regime entered into its final stage. The armed forces, trapped between their duties of obedience and their growing awareness of the contradictions within the regime and in society, formed a dissident movement whose first secret meetings took place in 1973. The 'Captains' - as they turn out to be known - were tired of the African wars and of their poor reputation for being involved in what were seen as 'unfair' wars. So, after a failed attempt in March 1974 (the Caldas episode), a successful coup took place on the 25th of April 1974 which 'suddenly and unexpectedly 22 catapulted Portugal into a turbulent and uncertain process of national liberation' (Schmitter, 1974:5). The 'Carnation Revolution' took place with almost no bloodshed and the transition of power was concluded within a day (see, among others, Reis, 1994 and Correia, 1994), but deep divisions and conflicts were yet to become visible.
The coup was followed by a two year period of serious political and social instability. >From April 1974 until the middle of 1975 there was a shift towards the left, notably the Communist Party (PCP) which has been the most consistent opposition to authoritarian rule. In September 1974, the conservative General Spínola 23 , by then president of Portugal, resigned as he felt increasingly at odds with the leftist radical groups which were gaining control, particularly the movement led by Brigadier Vasco Gonçalves who had taken the premiership in July 1974. At that time there was a serious contradiction between civilians, parties and militaries who favoured a democratic (parliamentary) regime and those who argued for a socialist, collectivist continuous revolution.
By March 1975 leftist military and civilian had taken over completely and a true revolutionary period began. As part of a radical leftist programme, major sectors of the economy were nationalised such as banking, insurance, shipbuilding, air and road transport, cement, chemical production, beer production, the media, etc.; most of the large farms in the South (Alentejo) were occupied by labour and owners were forced into exile (see Lucena and Gaspar, 1991:852). In addition to these domestic measures, the African colonies were granted rapid and ill-conceived independence which was the root cause of the political and administrative chaos 24 the countries were left in and of the massive exodus 25 of the white population to Portugal. Political instability in Portugal also 'facilitated' Indonesia's invasion of the Portuguese territory of East Timor.
Despite these radical measures, the left was deeply divided and more moderate forces, especially from the Center and the North, were gaining ground. A crucial influence on the fate of the country was the election of the Constitutional Assembly, to draw up a new Constitution, on the 25th of April 1975. The dictatorial ambitions of both the Communists and the leftist Movimento das Forças Armadas (MFA) were struck fatal blows. The MFA had urged that ballot papers be left blank, implying a preference for the continuation of its leadership, but there was a turnout of 91% and only 7% of the electorate cast blank votes. The PCP gained 12.5% of the votes, while the Socialists (PS) - under the leadership of the actual President of the Republic (Mário Soares) - gained the largest share, with 37.9% (The Economist Intelligence Unit, 1994:5).
The Communist controlled government which stayed in power until August 1975 intensified already existing divisions. The Armed Forces were in disarray and there was violent rioting particularly in the conservative North against the Communists. The Socialists and Popular Democrats (PPD) - now the Social Democrats (PSD) - took over government in August 1975 but it would not be for long. On the 25th of November the same year, a left-wing military coup was attempted, although suppressed by Colonel Ramalho Eanes and a cleansing of the armed forces followed. This attempted coup would turn out to be a real milestone in the consolidation of popular support for a parliamentary democracy and on the 25th of April 1976 parliamentary elections took place and one month later the President of the Republic, Ramalho Eanes, was elected. Two years after the coup, these elections marked the ending of the revolutionary period during which six provisional governments were in power, lasting an average of four and a half months each.
Despite the apparent refutation of the entire Salazarist legacy during this revolutionary period, the rupture was quite superficial. The União Nacional was abolished, the regime's police and para-military forces were eradicated, special courts for political crimes were also eliminated, and political liberties were restored: freedom of expression, association, full participation in political life, etc. However, as Santos points out, the administrative system kept its structure intact, the police and the military - once they had adhered to the new regime - maintained their configuration; the judicial system and the social security system also remained largely untouched. The Catholic Church, one of the most important ideological pillars of the regime, was equally saved from criticism and did not undergo any relevant transformation (1992:27).
The revolutionary period was over in 1976, but democratic stability was still a distant reality. For another ten years, until the accession to the European Community, in 1986, Portugal endured political, economic and social instability. The country lacked firm political orientation and deep social and ideological divisions were only too obvious. The consolidation of the democratic regime since 1976 was characterised by the 'gradual and slow overcoming of the dual state resultant from the revolutionary crisis 26 ' (Santos, 1992:36). Indeed, the 1976 Constitution reflected enormous ambiguities which can only be explained by the existence of very contradictory tendencies. As Lucena puts it, the 1976 Constitution has two souls: one is liberal, respectful of the citizens rights and favoured extensive political pluralism; the other one is revolutionary, collectivist and imposes the 'construction of socialism' (nationalisations were an irreversible fact, private initiative was forbidden in essential areas of the economy, etc.) (1989:508). Furthermore the so-called construction of socialism was until 1982, when the Constitution was first revised, under the tutelage of the Conselho da Revolução, a powerful leftist non-elected body. In this highly contradictory environment, politicians seemed incapable of endowing a sense of direction up to the mid 1980's.
The first two constitutional governments were led by the socialist Mário Soares 27. Whilst the democratic political institutions were gaining some muscle, the country's finances were in total disarray and the IMF was asked to prepare stabilisation programmes which were extremely unpopular and finally contributed to the Soares' removal from government (see e.g. Reis, 1994a:75-89). Nevertheless, Soares moved the country steadily to the center-left and confirmed the country's European orientation 28 by applying in 1977 to join the European Community. The two following governments (both of Presidential initiative) also lacked parliamentary support and were short-lived.
By the late 1970's, there was a backlash of conservative opinion and a center-right coalition, Aliança Democrática (AD), headed by the charismatic social democrat leader Sá Carneiro, managed to gain control. The AD's parliamentary majority in the 1979 election was increased in the 1980 election. In order to have a free hand for its programme of constitutional reform and economic liberalisation, the AD put up a candidate to contest the December 1980 presidential election but the candidate lost to Eanes. Shortly before the election, the coalition's leader, Sá Carneiro, was killed in an air accident 29 . His successor as prime minister, Francisco Balsemão (now the head of the private TV channel SIC), was politically more moderate but unable to steer the government in any conclusive direction (The Economist Intelligence Unit, 1994:6; see also Reis, 1994a).
The most relevant aspect of the two governments led by Balsemão's was the first Constitutional revision in 1982 which removed some radical leftist elements from it. Still, the economic crisis gave the Socialists an easy - although without majority - victory in April 1983. So, a coalition (known as Bloco Central) between the socialists and the social democrats was formed and Mário Soares became prime minister once again. Another IMF austerity programme was agreed and implemented in the following 18 months while the EEC negotiations entered a final stage. After a decade of intense negotiations, the accession treaty was signed by the prime minister, Mário Soares, on the 12th of June 1985, three days before his coalition government was brought down by the social democrats.
Because the social democrats
were the minority partner, they had little room for manoeuvre and their
leader, Cavaco Silva, withdrew from the coalition, thereby bringing down
the government. This political gamble proved successful as in the 1985
elections PSD gained the highest ever number of seats, as table 4 indicates,
and managed to stay in power ever since. The socialist party, on the other
hand, lost ground due to the creation of a new centre-left party (PRD)
and also by the latter loss of its 'father-figure', Mário Soares,
who would become himself the country's president in February 1986. Up to
the social democrat's first electoral victory, Constitutional governments
were lasting an average of one year.
Table 4: Legislative Elections (6 October 1985)
|PSD***||1 711 001||29,79%||86|
|PRD****||1 036 323||18,04%||45|
|PS*****||1 195 722||20,82%||56|
*APU (Aliança Povo Unido) was a coalition formed by the Communist party and other leftist parties
**CDS (Centro Democrático Social) can be seen in the Christian Democrat tradition
***PSD (Partido Social Democrático) is the Social Democrat Party
****PRD (Partido Renovador Democrático) was founded by the former President of the Republic, Ramalho Eanes
*****PS (Partido Socialista) is the Socialist Party
Although Portugal had requested negotiations on an association with the European Community as early as 1962, it would only be on the 1st of January 1986 - during the first Cavaco Silva's government - that Portugal became an effective member of the Community (now Union). 'As in the Greek negotiations, political factors helped to overcome difficulties: member states wished to encourage political stability in Southern Europe; there was the opportunity to widen and strengthen the political and economic base of the Community; and, by helping to link Southern Europe to the North, there were seen to be strategic advantages for both Western Europe and NATO' (Nugent, 1991:52-53). Indeed, if the reasons why the poorest Western European country was received in the 'European club' were mainly political, it had dramatic economic implications.
By 1986, internal political
life had stabilised considerably. Most of the radical parties that emerged
after the Revolution had all but disappeared
and two main forces became dominant, both occupying the centre of the political
spectrum - the Socialist Party and the Social Democrat Party. One year
after Soares' election and enjoying all the benefits of the European euphoria
while also planning ahead with millions of ECU's of aid in mind the PSD,
and specially its leader, Cavaco Silva, won the first of its two consecutive
elections with an absolute majority (see tables 5 and 6).
Table 5: Legislative Elections (19 July 1987)
|PSD||2 819 984||50,1%||145|
|PS||1 254 205||22,3%||59|
*CDU (Coligação Democrática Unitária) was a coalition formed by the Communist party and other leftist parties
Table 6: Legislative Elections (6 October 1991)
|PSD||2 858 575||50,43%||135|
|PS||1 658 243||29,25%||72|
*PSN (Partido de Solidariedade Popular ) stands for the elderly rights
The 1987 legislative
elections were held because the PSD minority government was brought down
on a vote of confidence in April the same year. The timing - writes the
Economist Intelligent Unit (1994:7) - could not have been better
for the ruling Social democrats: the economy was booming, the minority
administration had gained a reputation for efficiency and the opposition
was hopelessly divided. For the first time, since the 1974 revolution,
a government finished its four-year mandate and a wide-range of market-oriented
reforms were introduced.
5. The Actual Political System
After the revolutionary period, in 1976, an ambiguous and even contradictory constitutional framework was approved. The newly so-called 'democratic' country was divided between liberal and socialist ideals. On the one hand, civil liberties were restored and the Constitution detailed numerous individual rights; on the other hand, it was the objective of the Portuguese state to ensure the 'transition to socialism' (Art. 2). Now, in the aftermath of three constitutional amendments (1982,1989,1992), Portugal can be said to have Western style democratic institutions. Still, as Schmitter points out, the consolidation of these institutions will ultimately depend on how it fits with the social and economic structure of the country, as well as how well it conforms to the normative expectations of the citizenry (1991:7).
Formally, Portugal is a Parliamentary republic. The executive power is vested in the unicameral Assembly of the Republic which is elected by the d'Hondt system of proportional representation for a maximum period of four years (around 43% of the vote translate into an absolute majority). The president of the country is directly elected for a five year term (the same person can only hold office for two consecutive periods) and has relevant reserve powers. Amongst the most important powers of the president are the right to appoint and dismiss the prime minister and the right to dissolve the Assembly (Constitution, Art. 136). Still, the president has mainly a representative role (he represents the republic and ensures national independence), and he is supposed to guarantee the 'regular functioning of the democratic institutions' (Art. 123). 'Sometimes more parliamentarist, other times more presidentialist, the Portuguese government system has oscillated between a more reserved and a more visible presence of the President of the Republic' (Cruz, 1994:237). Due to this fluctuation, the political system is also referred to as semi-presidential.
Despite the actual importance of reserve powers held by the presidency and despite the institutional significance of the Parliament, the core of the political decision-making process is the prime minister himself and individual secretaries of state and ministers (the Council of Ministers cannot be considered particularly relevant because decisions are taken before the meeting and no real debate is reported to take place). The president does not intervene in the daily business of the government and the Parliament has neglected its legislative functions and is perceived as a downgraded institution. 'More than 80% of the legislation [approved by the Parliament] is prepared by the government and endorsed automatically by the majority' (Pinto in Diário de Notícias, 25 March 1995:15). In practice, the Parliament does not use its powers and the government has become both the legislator and the executive.
Lobbying, which is a good indicator of the power locus, is not particularly relevant at Parliament level. MPs (deputados) are perceived as powerless to introduce any relevant change by themselves. In a survey of presidents of the municipalities, 50.4% said they had contacts with ministros (secretaries of state), 35.3% said they had access to secretários de estado (ministers) whilst only 9% said they had contacts with MPs (see Ruivo, 1993:430). MPs ability to represent the people has been curbed by a double subordination of the Parliament to the party machines. According to Cruz and Antunes, MPs depend on the parliamentary groups and in turn these depend on the parties (1989:352). Parliamentary candidates are selected by the parties and if elected, they must obey the party line or face expulsion. The parliamentary group leadership has effective control over all MPs' initiatives: 'It is this leadership which determines which MPs intervene in each debate and, in some cases, it might even control the content of their interventions' (Cruz and Antunes, 1989:353).
The legislative initiative of the parliamentary groups comes particularly from the party headquarters. The parliamentary groups, not to mention MPs themselves, do not have material and human resources to draw up projects. The lack of autonomous structures of study and documentation to support the legislative initiative and to control the executive power has transformed the Parliament into a talking arena without effective legislative powers (see, inter alia, Cruz and Antunes, 1989; Miranda and Sousa, 1986). The last two majority social democrat governments have further devaluated the Parliament's role which can be partly explained by the traditionally strong role enjoyed by the executive in relation to the legislature.
Hence, because we are particularly interested in analysing the decision-making process, more detailed attention must be given to the executive power. Because electoral promises have little input in the actual government's performance, it is particularly relevant to start with the way government's programmes are elaborated after elections. According to Portas and Valente 31, once the prime minister chooses his secretaries of state (ministros), he would give them a short period of time to prepare their sectorial programme. Individual secretaries of state would elaborate their programme without input either from the so-called study groups of the party headquarters or from parliamentary groups (1990:334-335). These sectorial projects would later be added up by a politician chosen by the prime-minister in what would become the government's programme. 'It can be concluded that government programmes are purely individual creations, without political co-ordination and without the contribution of the party organs' (Portas and Valente, 1990:335, emphasis in the original). In the Portuguese case, it is also relevant to state that secretaries of state and ministries do not have to be elected members of the parliament and, if the prime minister wishes, he/she might exercise most senior tasks as his/her first political job.
After the prime minister is appointed, he (there was only ever one woman prime minister and for an extremely short period of time) chooses his team on the basis of personal confidence. Amongst the 30 interviewees (secretaries of state and ministers) of Portas and Valente, most stated they had been chosen because they had the personal confidence of the prime minister (1990:335) and, significantly, the least important criteria was technical competence for the job (1990:336). The two prime ministers interviewed for the same study, also on an anonymous basis, have confirmed that secretaries of state were not selected due to their sectoral knowledge but for reasons such as personal confidence, importance within the party, etc. (1990:336). In addition, half of the Portas and Valente interviewees said they only became party members after being in government (1990:337). In this context, it can be argued that one of the reasons for successive ill-skilled and ill-informed governments in Portugal is partly, at least, related to the discretionary, and highly concentrated, power held by the prime minister when selecting his team. To become a government member it is neither necessary to have technical expertise nor to be elected by the people.
Despite the fact that generally government members have no clear vision of their sectoral strategy, they appear to be remarkably auto-sufficient. Apart from lobbying for very specific causes, the party apparatus is out of the political process and does not provide feed back on political decisions. Similarly, as Portas and Valente point out, the media are also perceived as trouble makers and unable to provide any fruitful mediation between the people and politicians. 'All [interviewees] denied having received, at any time, through the media relevant and technically informed criticisms' (1990:339). But, if the media are understood as 'irresponsible' (the prime minister Cavaco Silva has publically stated that 90% of what is written in the newspapers is false), the academic community is seen as 'unrealistic'. 'All interviewees considered the contribution of academia as useless for their political performance, for a critical analysis of the policies adopted or for the evaluation of their impact' (1990:339). The mistrust of national organisations/individuals is counterweighted by a peculiar confidence in international bodies. In the same study, it is revealed that several secretaries of state considered that the World Bank and the OECD reports were 'indispensable' and have given more credit to them than to equivalent studies done by Portuguese institutions (1990:341). Ill prepared and without getting proper consultation or feed back on their decisions, secretaries of state and ministers do their best to avoid controversy, intervening mainly in what they perceive as safe policy areas. When decisions must be taken, no rational justification is generally required for a certain option. Asked directly about 'what are the criteria for decision?', the most common explanations given by government members to Portas and Valente were 'notion of the society's state', 'good sense' and 'intuition'. One secretary of state has stated, for instance, that he did not publish a new penal code because 'it did not smell right' (1990:343).
When decisions are eventually taken, their implementation depends on the civil service that, despite having doubled in numbers since the 1974 revolution, has not suffered any relevant restructuring. Therefore, as Santos argues, the authoritarian ideology of Salazarism has continued throughout the democratic regime and can be translated in the 'discretionary and clientelist behaviour' of the public administration (1993a:44). 'In a way, [citizens] are clients of the state twice: from the state as service provider and from the state employees who provide the service' (Santos, 1993a:44). In the study conducted by Portas and Valente, government members have also referred to the permanence of top civil servants from the Salazarist period in the public administration and have exposed lengthy complaints about 'high' administration's ability to perform efficiently and accurately. 'With few exceptions, secretaries of state admitted that they have inherited a bureaucracy [...] and a given budget; and that essentially they could change little or nothing' (1990:343).
In Portugal there is no tradition of a shadow government such as in the British case. Opposition is traditionally weak and journalists can rarely find a sectoral spokesperson. As the opposition also lacks expertise on most issues, no informed criticism is voiced on the vast majority of the executive's decisions. The press has also traditionally been under government control and, despite considerable improvements, it does not act as a counter power (see Chapter V). A freer and better qualified press and a more attentive opposition would improve the quality of the executive's performance and the balance of power between organs of sovereignty could be partly restored.
Considering this general
pattern of political behaviour, one would infer that the most effective
lobbying (for more on interest groups, see Chapter V) would be done through
a personal network of contacts and not necessarily through formal organisations
such as parties, trade unions, industry associations, research institutions,
etc. Personal relationships with senior government members is bound to
be the most - and in some cases, the only - way of successfully exerting
pressure over the political process. It certainly is one of the reasons
why the vast majority of the Portuguese population believes that it has
no possibility of influencing political power. Using quantitative and qualitative
indicators, Cabral (1995) 32
concluded that 85% of the population was at maximum distance from political
power and that, inversely, only 3% of the population was on the top of
the scale and that merely 7% were considerably close to power. The lack
of interest for political life is further noticeable in the same study:
40% of the population does not manifest any sympathy for political parties
(two thirds reveal antipathy and one third does not respond) which means
that about half of the adult population does not feel represented by any
party and is effectively excluded from the political process. In addition
to the dictatorial past, low educational levels, the tradition of informal
association modes, etc., it can be argued that the current elitist and
personalistic attributes of state and government have contributed to people's
belief that their interests will not be represented.
6. Conclusion: General Characteristics of the Portuguese Communications Policy
From what has been said about the political process both in the recent past and in the actuality, one can infer that communications policy - as a part of that process - has some general characteristics which will be put to the test in the following chapters. These particularities are naturally inter-related and will be later expanded.
One of the attributes of the Portuguese communications policy is centralisation in political and geographical terms. Since Salazar, there has been a centralisation of power in the capital, Lisbon, and around the prime minister and a few senior government figures. The revolution did not alter the centralising trend and indeed the concentration of human and material resources had, if anything, accelerated even further. In terms of communications, it can be said that most political decisions are taken in Lisbon by a small number of government members and, when crucial issues are at stake, by the prime minister himself.
Lack of expertise is another aspect. Once government members and public administration staff are frequently appointed for personal confidence rather than for technical and political aptitude, the succession of ill-informed governments comes as no surprise. The problem becomes even more acute because, in addition to the ingrained lack of expertise, politicians get no informed advice, mistrust the media and are largely unaccountable. Crucial decisions such as the opening up of television to private initiative were taken without proper consultation or evaluation of implications. In other cases, lack of expertise results in a decisional/legal vacuum with potentially dangerous implications (e.g. the introduction of cable TV).
Another characteristic is fragmentation which, as we understand it, does not contradict the centralisation argument. As we have stated before, governments are ill-informed and a co-ordinated approach towards communications requires a high level of expertise. Communications policy in Portugal is fragmented in the sense that several un-related bodies (e.g. Instituto das Comunicações de Portugal, Alta Autoridade para a Comunicação Social, etc.) deal independently with bits and pieces as if there was no urgent need of a co-ordinated approach. Despite the technological convergence and despite the economic and social relation between production (content) and distribution (medium), there is a total lack of co-ordination between broadcasting (understood as terrestrial, cable and satellite television), cultural fields (cinema and video), and distribution technologies (telecommunications).
If there is no co-ordinated vision, the political output is a mere set of ad hoc decisions, mainly reacting to technological developments and to internal and external pressures. Each of the several public bodies/individuals involved in carrying out communications policy basically respond to the most pressing needs. Ad hoc decisions are a direct result of 'reactive' policies and of the non-existence of a well designed framework for national communications. Generally, the government merely legitimates existing situations or follows on what is perceived as inevitable. The last social democrat government, for instance, would necessarily give a TV channel to the Catholic Church once it has been asked for a long period of time and because the government was not prepared to confront such a powerful actor.
Because there is no tradition of thorough consultation or public debate, it can be expected that the vast majority of the population will ignore why and how decisions are taken. Secrecy is another important aspect of the decision-making process for communications. Most crucial decisions are taken behind closed doors and there is no disclosure of how and why a certain decision was taken amongst other options. The restructuring of the telecommunications sector, for example, has been done in a highly secretive way, without the release of any controversial or politically sensitive information.
But as Lukes (1974) points out, power is not exercised merely through decisions. Often government deliberately abstains from intervening in potentially unpopular or controversial issues. In the communications arena it is noticeable that there is a tendency to either avoid taking decisions unless they are so pressing that they cannot be avoided or - if some work must be shown - to decide on safe issues only. It is common therefore to see authorities more involved with co-operation with the Portuguese speaking African countries or with the Portuguese emigrant communities abroad than with tackling issues at home.
of the Portuguese policy for communications can be perceived from the general
analysis of the recent political history and from the examination of the
current political process. Yet, to fully understand the current features
of Portuguese communications and its policies, further social, economic,
and technological aspects must be taken in consideration. Political decisions
are taken within a complex system which will be expanded in the following
1. Although the 1974 coup d'etat is commonly referred to as the April Revolution or the Carnation Revolution, authors such as Lourenço argue that - because of the Portuguese internal situation and due to complex cultural issues - it was not exactly a revolution (see Lourenço, 1989:71-77; 1992). Santos also states that probably future historians will deny the character of revolution to the events that took place in 1974-75 (1993a:25).
2. Santos (1992, 1993, 1994) borrows Wallerstein's (1983, 1984) concepts of periphery and semi-periphery and applies them to the Portuguese reality.
3- Although there are no exact figures on the internal population flows, Pinto (1994:309) says that, in the last 30 years, there has been a population decline of one third in the interior (North, Center and Alentejo). The existence of numerous so-called ghost-villages (where literally everybody has left) also demonstrates the same point.
4. Legally, in 1989 there were 101,000 immigrants, of whom 43,000 were from Africa (mainly Cape Verde), 11,000 from Brazil, 8,000 from the UK and, 7,000 from Spain (quoted in the Economist Intelligence Unit, 1994:13).
5. Figures from The Economist Intelligence Unit (1994:13).
6. Salazarism has been compartmentalised in different ways. According to Cruz (1988), there have been five important phases:
1. The military dictatorship (1926-1933)
2. The construction of the New State (Estado Novo) (1933-1945)
3. The diversification of the regime (1945-1961)
4. The hardening of the regime (1961-1968)
5. The obstructed liberalisation (1968-1974)
Moreira (Público, 10.04.94), a former Salazar minister, has recently divided the regime into three distinctive phases: the first (1926-1933) corresponds to the idea of presidentialism when the president was elected by the people. According to the Constitution, the President was the core of the system, although in reality the locus of power was the President of the Council. The second phase (1933-1968) corresponds to a new constitutional period in which the State was defined as corporatist, although Salazar never led a Government/State with these characteristics. The Third phase (1968-1974) corresponds to the Caetano government named by Moreira as a 'national security state'.
7. In Portuguese, ministérios (ministries) correspond to Secretaries of State in the British political system. Likewise, ministros (and not Secretários de Estado) are the most important figures in a given policy area.
8. Some of the most relevant studies on the definition and interpretation of Salazarism are Martins, 1969; Schmitter, 1974, 1975, 1979; Lucena, 1976, 1982, 1984, 1985, Cruz, 1980, 1988; and Pinto, 1990.
9. Salazar's rejection of totalitarianism was based on his catholic and juridical education. Totalitarianism was in Salazar's words, anti-Christian, and a nationalism of catholic inspiration should not divinise the State (in Cruz, 1988:49).
10. The Secretariado de Propaganda Nacional (SPN) was later re-named Secretariado Nacional de Informação (SNI)
11. The political police was initially called Polícia de Vigilância e Defesa do Estado (PVDE) and later re-named Polícia Internacional e de Defesa do Estado (PIDE).
12. Portugal was a crucial supplier of a variety of products to the conflicting parties. Wolfram, sold to both Germans and British, was the most import export.
13. Throughout the 1930's and well into the 1950's, Portugal had the lowest rates of urbanisation, improvement in literacy, industrialisation, and general economic modernisation of any European country. Only in the 1960's some economic growth became noticeable (Schmitter, 1974:14).
14. The Portuguese possessions in Africa were Angola, Mozambique in the Southern African region and Guinea-Bissau, Cape Verde and S. Tomé e Príncipe in West Africa.
15. In the late 1960's, the military expenditure as a percentage of total central government expenditures was around 40% (combined sources quoted in Schmitter, 1974:17).
16. The Church, fiercely attacked by the Republic, supported Salazar unconditionally until the 1960's. Henceforth, criticisms were voiced both on the continent and in the African colonies, and some elements of the Church became actively involved in the opposition against the regime.
17. Some of the most relevant were CUF, Champalimaud, Espírito Santo and Borges.
18. The Constitution was revised in 1935, 1936, 1937, 1938, 1945, 1951, 1959 and 1971, but its core elements were not altered.
19. Throughout the dictatorship, there were three Presidents of the Republic:
1926-1951 - Oscar Carmona
1951-1958 - Craveiro Lopes
20. Until 1958 the President of the Republic was elected by direct (although not universal) suffrage. This was changed after General Humberto Delgado managed to unite the opposition and seriously threatened the Salazar regime in the 1958 presidential elections.
21. As a rule, only male literate individuals over 21 were allowed to vote. Illiterate male individuals over 21 were exceptionally allowed to vote if they paid high taxes. Female individuals were also exceptionally allowed to vote if they had a special High School diploma or a University degree (which was rare at that time).
22. At that time, observers had not foreseen the eminent collapse of the authoritarian rule.
23. Spínola's book Portugal e o Futuro published in February 1974 deepened the crisis within the regime because, although arguing that Africa was crucial for the Nation's survival, it challenged Marcello's view that armed struggle should continue: 'We shall stay in Africa. Yes! But not by the force of the arms' (Spínola, 1974:236)
24. All former colonies lost their skilled labour force; Angola has had a ferocious civil war ever since and Mozambique's civil war has ended recently. The negotiations of transition to independence in the five territories took no more than five months.
25. Leaving aside those who decided to go to South Africa, Brazil, Australia, etc., this exodus accounted for an increase of 6% in the Portuguese population (Comissariado para os Desalojados, 1979).
26. Although published in the book O Estado e a Sociedade em Portugal (1974-1988) in 1990 (2nd Edn. 1992), this extract is from an article originally published in 1984.
27. The prime ministers of the Constitutional governments were as follows:
1º Mário Soares (Socialist Party)
2º Mário Soares (Socialist Party)
3º Nobre da Costa (Independent)
4º Mota Pinto (Independent)
5º Maria de Lurdes Pintasilgo (Independent)
6º Sá Carneiro (Social Democratic Party)
7º Pinto Balsemão (Social Democratic Party)
8º Pinto Balsemão (Social Democratic Party)
9º The Social democrats abandoned the coalition and the government was brought down
10º Cavaco Silva (Social Democratic Party)
11º Cavaco Silva (Social Democratic Party)
12º Cavaco Silva (Social Democratic Party)
28. Although the formal application to the Community was only submitted in 1977, the accession to Europe was the subject of an ongoing debate in some circles since the beginning of the decade. However, once the African link was shattered with the colonies' independence, the integration in the EC became a pressing issue.
29. This accident has been cause of much speculation and suspicion.
30. Right after the 1974 Revolution, 23 parties were created.
31. Portas and Valente (1990) conducted this research interviewing, in confidentiality, 30 Secretaries of Sate and Ministers from several Portuguese governments.
32. This study is based on 2,500 interviews to the Portuguese adult population.