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António de Oliveira Salazar

(1889—1970) Portuguese statesman, Prime Minister 1932–68

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(b. 8 Apr. 1889, d. 27 July 1970).

Prime Minister of Portugal 1932–68

Early career

Born in Vimieiro (Beira Alta), he studied at a Roman Catholic school to prepare for the priesthood, but then decided to study economics instead. He became the star student of Coimbra University and gained a doctorate in finance and economics in 1918. His academic reputation earned him the offer to become Finance Minister, but he accepted the appointment to a professorship at his university instead. He accepted the renewed offer to become Finance Minister in 1926, only to resign a few days later when his demands for sweeping powers were rejected.

In power

When Carmona's military regime remained as incompetent in the management of the country's finances as its republican predecessors, he was finally offered the Finance Ministry with the authority he demanded. He managed to balance the hitherto chaotic budgets, a feat which gave him sufficient authority to become the dominant figure of the regime. This position was confirmed by his appointment as Prime Minister. He was responsible for establishing the Estado Novo, whereby, according to the 1933 Constitution, Portugal became a Fascist, corporatist state devoid of political parties or other democratic institutions. Despite the economic and political difficulties arising from the Spanish Civil War (1936–9) and World War II, he enjoyed considerable popularity, as he was seen as a guarantor of stability and prosperity. However, as he became older and increasingly stubborn he failed to see that economic change, political repression, and military defeats in the African colonies produced widespread dissatisfaction. He suffered a stroke in 1968, from which he did not recover. Salazar was succeeded by Caetano, who was eventually overwhelmed by the pent-up tensions that had developed under Salazar.

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