Commemorating the Portuguese Revolution 40 Years on

Politics, Policies and Discourse in Evolving Democracies –
Portugal, Spain and Brazil


Welcome by Head of Department Jørn Boisen

The Return of Portugal to the Democratic World: 
The Legacy of the April Revolution of Carnations

by Professor José M. Magone, Berlin School of Economics and Law

“Save a carnation for me” –
 Repercussions of the Portuguese Revolution in Brazil
 by Associate Professor Georg Wink (Engerom)

Coffee Break.

An International Perspective on the Transition to Democracy in 
Spain and Portugal
by Associate Professor Morten Heiberg (Engerom)

Discourses on the Revolution
by Associate Professor Sandi Michele de Oliveira (Engerom)


Closing by Professor Stuart Ward

This is an Engerom focus event within the research platform Global Europe. Afterwards, the Department offers a glass of wine.


The Return of Portugal to the Democratic World: The Legacy of the April Revolution of Carnations (José M. Magone, Berlin School of Economics and Law)

Portugal celebrates its fortieth anniversary of its democracy. At the beginning of this excellent record is the unique Revolution of Carnations which is still a precious turning event in the minds of the Portuguese people. In difficult times like today, the inspiration of the Revolution of Carnations shapes the way the Portuguese think about social justice, equality and democracy. This talk seeks to explain the main achievements of the Portuguese Revolution of Carnations both domestically as well as internationally. The paper is divided in five parts. In the first part, important aspects of the Portuguese revolution which clearly have made this event quite unique are sketched. Afterwards, the second major part assesses 40 years of democracy highlighting achievements and challenges. The third part discusses the relationship between Portugal and the European Union and how the revolutionary legacy played a major role in strengthening the support for European integration. The fourth part is dedicated to the revolutionary legacy in the world, discussing the impact of the event on democratization across the globe, the so-called third wave of democratization, the new relationship to other Portuguese speaking countries, and the successes of Portuguese diplomacy in the global stage. In the fifth part, the paper will finish with some conclusions.

José M. Magone is Professor of Regional and Global Governance at the Berlin School of Economics and Law. He has published 11 books, over 40 chapters in edited books and 14 journal articles on European politics, particularly on southern Europe and European integration. Among his latest publications are the single authored books The New World Architecture. The Role of the European Union in the Making of Global Governance (Transaction 2006); Contemporary Spanish Politics. Second Edition (Routledge 2009); Contemporary European Politics (Routledge 2011); The Politics of Contemporary Portugal. Evolving Democracy (Lynne Rienner 2014).

An International Perspective on the Transition to Democracy in Spain and Portugal (Morten Rievers Heiberg, University of Copenhagen)

The 1970s was indeed a period of change. In the mid-1970s the spirit of the detente and the CSCE-process was still prevailing. Actually, it was not uncommon to see newspapers referring to the cold war as a past event. However, the international climate rapidly deteriorated towards the end of 1970s due to a series of events: The United States was not only challenged by the crisis in Afghanistan, Iraq and the Middle East, but in the aftermath of the double track decision in 1979 – caused by the Soviet military build-up with SS-20 missiles – the NATO-alliance was also in crisis. Furthermore, in the East, the Soviet Totalitarian hegemony too was waning. In the midst of all this turmoil, political and profound social changes took place within a number of Western European Countries: The Revolution in Portugal, the death of General Franco in Spain and the upheaval in Greece marked the beginning of a democratic transition in Southern Europe. In Italy, the political hegemony of the Christian Democratic Party was waning. Euro-Communism was on the march, and in Washington Southern Europe was commonly described as the “soft underbelly” of the West. New forms of politics and transnational phenomena such as human rights campaigns and peace movements gained considerable strength in a Europe confident of its own importance and capacity to deal with European and global matters. This paper analyses the political transition in Spain in the light of such important international events, just as it compares the Spanish transition with the political development in Portugal.

“Save a carnation for me” – Repercussions of the Portuguese Revolution in Brazil (Georg Wink, University of Copenhagen)

In 1974 Brazil was still ruled by a military government which had been cultivating good relations with the Salazar regime, so the notice of the Carnation Revolution was received by the opposition with a mixture of enthusiasm and melancholy – “Save a carnation for me”, sang Chico Buarque in his famous song “Tanto Mar” (“So much sea”). While the song was censured and Brazil served as refuge for Marcelo Caetano, Portugal’s final leader (or Prime Minister) under the Salazar regime, Brazil’s official position on an international level was not at all hostile. Surprisingly, President Ernesto Geisel’s regime allowed the press to cover widely and freely the events. Still more surprising, Brazil was the first country to recognize officially the new Portuguese government. The main reason for this apparently contradictory position can be found in the correlation between the Portuguese Revolution and the National Liberation Movements in Lusophone Africa: The latter’s success was of strong geopolitical interest for Brazil in order to regain – as self-appointed heir of the Portuguese Imperium – influence on these colonies. In my paper, I will explore the different discursive levels which are involved and focus on Brazil’s early pragmatic politics to strengthen her position as a global player.

Discourses on the Revolution (Sandi Michele de Oliveira, University of Copenhagen)

The Flower Revolution of April 25, 1974 was a defining moment for Portugal, freeing the country from 48 years of dictatorial rule. This abrupt shift in the daily life of its citizens was reflected in conversations at the time, and for several years afterwards, as people sharply differentiated between “antes” (before) and “depois” (after). There was no need to provide more context, as fellow Portuguese knew the point of reference. The characterization of these periods served to identify a speaker’s likely social class and political leanings. It is important to note that while the vast majority of Portuguese lived in what is referred to as “Continental Portugal and Adjacent Islands” (the Azores and Madeira), two significant groups of Portuguese lived elsewhere at the time—those who resided in the remaining Portuguese territories in Africa and Portuguese emigrants abroad. Their experiences of the time are markedly different from those who experienced the Revolution with the country’s current borders. We will examine the discourse of speakers representing each of the three groups. Two time frames are in focus: the years just after the Revolution and current memories of the period.