António de Oliveira Salazar
prime minister of Portugal
born April 28, 1889, Vimieiro, Port.
died July 27, 1970, Lisbon
Portuguese economist, who served as prime minister of Portugal for 36
Salazar, the son of an estate manager at Santa Comba Dão, was educated
at the seminary at Viseu and at the University of Coimbra. He graduated
from there in law in 1914 and became a professor specializing in
economics at Coimbra. He helped form the Catholic Centre Party in 1921
and was elected to the Cortes (parliament), but he resigned after one
session and returned to the university. In May 1926, after the army had
overthrown Portugalís parliamentary government, Salazar was offered the
cabinet post of minister of finance, but he could not obtain his own
conditions. In 1928 General António Oscar de Fragoso Carmona, as
president, offered him the finance ministry with complete control over
the governmentís income and expenditures, and this time Salazar
accepted. As finance minister, he reversed the century-old tradition of
deficits and made budgetary surpluses the hallmark of his regime. The
surpluses were invested in a series of development plans.
Gaining in power, Salazar was named prime minister by Carmona on July
5, 1932, and thus became the strong man of Portugal. He drafted a new
constitution that reorganized Portugalís political system along
authoritarian lines. Salazarís rule was strongly influenced by Catholic,
papal, and nationalist thought. Salazar called his new order in Portugal
the New State (Estado Novo). The National Assembly was composed solely
of government supporters, and Salazar chose his own ministers, whose
work he closely supervised. Political freedoms in Portugal were thus
curtailed, military police repressed dissidents, and attention was
concentrated on economic recovery.
Owing to the crises occasioned by the Spanish Civil War and World War
II, Salazar served as minister of war (1936Ė44) and minister of foreign
affairs (1936Ė47) in addition to holding the office of prime minister.
He was friendly with Francisco Franco and recognized the Nationalist
government in Spain in 1938, but he kept Portugal neutral in World War
II and led the country into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in
1949. After World War II, Portugalís railways, road transport, and
merchant navy were reequipped, and a national airline was instituted.
Electrification was planned for the whole country, and rural schools
were developed. However, Salazarís insistence on maintaining Portugalís
colonies in Africa could only be sustained with difficulty at a time
when the other European colonial empires in Africa were being
Salazar suffered a stroke in September 1968 and was unable to
continue his duties. He was replaced as prime minister by Marcello
Caetano, a change that the disabled Salazar was never told had taken
place. He died two years later. Salazar lived a life of frugal
simplicity, shunning publicity, rarely making public appearances, and
never leaving Portugal.