Authoritarian Regimes and Pro-Democracy Semi-Oppositions: The End of the Portuguese Dictatorship (1968-1974) in Comparative Perspective
Title: Authoritarian Regimes and Pro-Democracy Semi-Oppositions: The End of the Portuguese Dictatorship (1968-1974) in Comparative Perspective
Author: FERNANDES, Tiago
Citation: Democratization, 2007, 14, 4, 686 - 705
This article discusses the conditions of failure and success of pro-democracy semi-oppositions to authoritarian regimes through a comparative study of the last phase of the Portuguese authoritarian regime (1968-1974). It specifies and reformulates Juan Linz's concept of semi-opposition. In Portugal, contrary to Linz's argument, the moderate pro-democracy semi-oppositions participated in the regime's electoral moments and tended to take the greatest possible advantage of these periods so as to discredit the regime and to demonstrate that it could not be transformed from within. In order to make sense of this paradox, scholars should look at the institutional legacies and frameworks of authoritarian regimes. Specifically, we argue that the Portuguese semi-opposition failed because the institutional heritage of the Estado Novo, at the moment of the leadership succession, provided no opportunities for a reformist democratizing coalition to assert itself and promoted instead the radicalization of the semi-opposition. Paradoxically, it was the more liberal institutional framework of the regime that made a political change guided by the democratic semi-opposition impracticable.
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