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175 Working Paper

Portuguese Exceptionalism and the Return to Europe: the 25 April 1974 Coup and Democratization, 1974-2010


The notion of Portuguese exceptionalism resonated with the European political and economic elite for some two hundred years: there was a widespread belief that Portuguese society and government existed outside of European understandings of society, politics and authority relations. In the thirty-five years since the 25 April 1974 Carnation Revolution, the Portuguese political system has developed new mechanisms for debate, elections and policy adoption. Portugal is currently completely integrated into Europe as a member of the European Union, with a democratic government and a developing economy. Portugal's return to the overall pattern of European democratic institutions in the years following the 25 April 1974 revolution can be understood as a much needed corrective of both Portuguese authoritarianism and its associated notions of lusotropicalism: that is, democracy and Europe have replaced corporatism and the Portuguese overseas empire as two of the key defining elements of contemporary Portuguese identity. It was certainly a long historical struggle from monarchy to democracy: the contemporary Portuguese political system is currently dynamic, democratic, durable and European.