Salazar, Antônio de Oliveira

(1889-1970)
   The Coimbra University professor of finance and economics and one of the founders of the Estado Novo, who came to dominate Western Europe's longest surviving authoritarian system. Salazar was born on 28 April 1889, in Vimieiro, Beira Alta province, the son of a peasant estate manager and a shopkeeper. Most of his first 39 years were spent as a student, and later as a teacher in a secondary school and a professor at Coimbra University's law school. Nine formative years were spent at Viseu's Catholic Seminary (1900-09), preparing for the Catholic priesthood, but the serious, studious Salazar decided to enter Coimbra University instead in 1910, the year the Braganza monarchy was overthrown and replaced by the First Republic. Salazar received some of the highest marks of his generation of students and, in 1918, was awarded a doctoral degree in finance and economics. Pleading inexperience, Salazar rejected an invitation in August 1918 to become finance minister in the "New Republic" government of President Sidónio Pais.
   As a celebrated academic who was deeply involved in Coimbra University politics, publishing works on the troubled finances of the besieged First Republic, and a leader of Catholic organizations, Sala-zar was not as modest, reclusive, or unknown as later official propaganda led the public to believe. In 1921, as a Catholic deputy, he briefly served in the First Republic's turbulent congress (parliament) but resigned shortly after witnessing but one stormy session. Salazar taught at Coimbra University as of 1916, and continued teaching until April 1928. When the military overthrew the First Republic in May 1926, Salazar was offered the Ministry of Finance and held office for several days. The ascetic academic, however, resigned his post when he discovered the degree of disorder in Lisbon's government and when his demands for budget authority were rejected.
   As the military dictatorship failed to reform finances in the following years, Salazar was reinvited to become minister of finances in April 1928. Since his conditions for acceptance—authority over all budget expenditures, among other powers—were accepted, Salazar entered the government. Using the Ministry of Finance as a power base, following several years of successful financial reforms, Salazar was named interim minister of colonies (1930) and soon garnered sufficient prestige and authority to become head of the entire government. In July 1932, Salazar was named prime minister, the first civilian to hold that post since the 1926 military coup.
   Salazar gathered around him a team of largely academic experts in the cabinet during the period 1930-33. His government featured several key policies: Portuguese nationalism, colonialism (rebuilding an empire in shambles), Catholicism, and conservative fiscal management. Salazar's government came to be called the Estado Novo. It went through three basic phases during Salazar's long tenure in office, and Salazar's role underwent changes as well. In the early years (1928-44), Salazar and the Estado Novo enjoyed greater vigor and popularity than later. During the middle years (1944—58), the regime's popularity waned, methods of repression increased and hardened, and Salazar grew more dogmatic in his policies and ways. During the late years (1958-68), the regime experienced its most serious colonial problems, ruling circles—including Salazar—aged and increasingly failed, and opposition burgeoned and grew bolder.
   Salazar's plans for stabilizing the economy and strengthening social and financial programs were shaken with the impact of the civil war (1936-39) in neighboring Spain. Salazar strongly supported General Francisco Franco's Nationalist rebels, the eventual victors in the war. But, as the civil war ended and World War II began in September 1939, Salazar's domestic plans had to be adjusted. As Salazar came to monopolize Lisbon's power and authority—indeed to embody the Estado Novo itself—during crises that threatened the future of the regime, he assumed ever more key cabinet posts. At various times between 1936 and 1944, he took over the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and of War (Defense), until the crises passed. At the end of the exhausting period of World War II, there were rumors that the former professor would resign from government and return to Coimbra University, but Salazar continued as the increasingly isolated, dominating "recluse of São Bento," that part of the parliament's buildings housing the prime minister's offices and residence.
   Salazar dominated the Estado Novo's government in several ways: in day-to-day governance, although this diminished as he delegated wider powers to others after 1944, and in long-range policy decisions, as well as in the spirit and image of the system. He also launched and dominated the single party, the União Nacional. A lifelong bachelor who had once stated that he could not leave for Lisbon because he had to care for his aged mother, Salazar never married, but lived with a beloved housekeeper from his Coimbra years and two adopted daughters. During his 36-year tenure as prime minister, Salazar engineered the important cabinet reshuffles that reflect the history of the Estado Novo and of Portugal.
   A number of times, in connection with significant events, Salazar decided on important cabinet officer changes: 11 April 1933 (the adoption of the Estado Novo's new 1933 Constitution); 18 January 1936 (the approach of civil war in Spain and the growing threat of international intervention in Iberian affairs during the unstable Second Spanish Republic of 1931-36); 4 September 1944 (the Allied invasion of Europe at Normandy and the increasing likelihood of a defeat of the Fascists by the Allies, which included the Soviet Union); 14 August 1958 (increased domestic dissent and opposition following the May-June 1958 presidential elections in which oppositionist and former regime stalwart-loyalist General Humberto Delgado garnered at least 25 percent of the national vote, but lost to regime candidate, Admiral Américo Tomás); 13 April 1961 (following the shock of anticolonial African insurgency in Portugal's colony of Angola in January-February 1961, the oppositionist hijacking of a Portuguese ocean liner off South America by Henrique Galvão, and an abortive military coup that failed to oust Salazar from office); and 19 August 1968 (the aging of key leaders in the government, including the now gravely ill Salazar, and the defection of key younger followers).
   In response to the 1961 crisis in Africa and to threats to Portuguese India from the Indian government, Salazar assumed the post of minister of defense (April 1961-December 1962). The failing leader, whose true state of health was kept from the public for as long as possible, appointed a group of younger cabinet officers in the 1960s, but no likely successors were groomed to take his place. Two of the older generation, Teotónio Pereira, who was in bad health, and Marcello Caetano, who preferred to remain at the University of Lisbon or in private law practice, remained in the political wilderness.
   As the colonial wars in three African territories grew more costly, Salazar became more isolated from reality. On 3 August 1968, while resting at his summer residence, the Fortress of São João do Estoril outside Lisbon, a deck chair collapsed beneath Salazar and his head struck the hard floor. Some weeks later, as a result, Salazar was incapacitated by a stroke and cerebral hemorrhage, was hospitalized, and became an invalid. While hesitating to fill the power vacuum that had unexpectedly appeared, President Tomás finally replaced Salazar as prime minister on 27 September 1968, with his former protégé and colleague, Marcello Caetano. Salazar was not informed that he no longer headed the government, but he never recovered his health. On 27 July 1970, Salazar died in Lisbon and was buried at Santa Comba Dão, Vimieiro, his village and place of birth.

Historical dictionary of Portugal 3rd ed.. . 2014.

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  • Salazar, António de Oliveira — born April 28, 1889, Vimierio, Port. died July 27, 1970, Lisbon Portuguese prime minister (1932–68). A professor of economics, he was appointed by Pres. António Óscar de Fragoso Carmona as finance minister (1928) and later prime minister (1932).… …   Universalium

  • Salazar, Antonio de Oliveira — VER Oliveira Salazar, Antonio de * * * (28 abr. 1889, Vimierio, Portugal–27 jul. 1970, Lisboa). Primer ministro de Portugal (1932–68). Profesor de economía, fue nombrado ministro de finanzas (1928) por el pdte. António Óscar de Fragoso Carmona y… …   Enciclopedia Universal

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  • Antonio de Oliveira Salazar — Salazar António de Oliveira Salazar [ɐ̃ˈtɔniw dɨ oliˈvɐjɾɐ sɐlɐˈzaɾ]  anhören?/i (* 28. April 1889 in Santa Comba Dão; † 27. Juli 1970 in Lissab …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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