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The Carnation Revolution

22nd April 2016

Emerging from the longest-standing dictatorship in Western Europe’s recent history, the events which occurred in Lisbon on the 25th April 1974 are particularly significant to Portuguese society. As a result the 25th April, which marks the break with the Estado Novo regime, is celebrated every year as a national holiday.

25 de Abril Bridge in Lisbon

By April 1974, with violent colonial resistance occurring in Africa, there was great discontent among both the military and Portuguese society. Economically the country was growing yet the heavy oppressive hand of the regime and its colonial policy was still holding Portuguese society by the reigns. Opposition to the colonial wars within the military led to the formation of the “Armed Forces Movement” which conspired to overthrow the dictatorship.

At midnight on 24th April the beginning of the coup was signalled over the radio by the broadcasting of “Grandola, Vila Morena” by Zeca Afonso, an influential singer who was banned from Portuguese radio at the time. By the following afternoon the regime was no more.

Described as a ‘very Portuguese coup’ the military coup was almost entirely peaceful with very few shots fired, and a total of six casualties. The Portuguese people unexpectedly flooded the streets in support of the coup and in hope of a newfound freedom. During the celebrations that marked the end of the regime; carnations were placed in the barrel of the soldier’s rifles; thus lending the name ‘Carnation Revolution’.

Today 25th April is a day of celebrations commemorating the freedoms and political and civil rights which Portugal has developed since the end of the regime.

Photo credit
25 April Bridge By Vitor Oliveira from Torres Vedras, PORTUGAL (Lisboa vista de Almada (Portugal)) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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