Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Salazar is "greatest Portuguese of all time"

Who's the greatest Portuguese of all time? Ferdinand Magellan? Luís de Camões? Henry the Navigator? Vasco da Gama?

No, no, no, and no.

According to the viewers of Rádio e Televisão de Portugal, the answer is fascist dictator António de Oliveira Salazar. The former dictator received 41% of the total vote, putting him well ahead of his nearest competitors. Why the hell would citizens of a modern, democratic country feel such nostalgia for one of Western Europe's last dictators? Apparently, the answer is either due to the sheer stupidity of the Portuguese public, or a sense of frustration with the current state of political affairs in Portugal - depending on who you ask.

People who were old enough to remember the Salazar regime apparently had kind words for Salazar's "steady hand", and admired his successful efforts to maintain Portuguese neutrality during the second world war. Some even admired his "honesty". Well, that's just about where any list of Salazar's virtues would have to end. For 36 years, Salazar transformed Portugal into a fascist New State defined by the integration of Catholic religious values and nationalist corporatism. Thanks in no small part to a ruthless and efficient secret police, Salazar maintained an iron grip on Portuguese politics. While not indulging in the same level of state sanctioned violence as his fascist contemporaries in Italy, Spain or Germany, Salazar managed to exert just enough pressure to silence any political opposition, whether from the left or right.

I could not flatter the people without being a traitor to my own conscience. Our regime is popular but it is not a government of the masses, being neither influenced nor directed by them. These good people who, moved by the excitement of the occasion, cheer me one day, may rise in rebellion the next day for equally passing reasons.

António Salazar

Salazar also stood apart for his obstinate refusal to voluntarily relinquish any part of Portugal's overseas colonies, whether Portuguese India, East Timor, Angola or Mozambique: Salazar regarded Portugal's status as a colonial power as a point of pride, and treated the massive decolonization rush by other world powers with scorn. Yet for all his pride in Portugal's overseas empire, Salazar never traveled abroad, not even to his far flung colonial possessions.

After suffering a massive stroke in 1968, Salazar's day to day authority was transferred to a successor, but the New State lingered on until after Salazar's death in 1974. While neither as cruel or ostentatious as his contemporaries, Salazar was, perhaps, boring and staid. This is obviously a deficiency to people who revel in the retrograde personalities and eccentricities of dictators. Yet this quiet style combined with political expertise and personal ruthlessness certainly served him well as Europe's quietest fascist.

UPDATE: Well, let it never be said the Portuguese have had the final say on Salazar. Would you believe he also topped the list of the Worst Portuguese Ever?


f said...

I'm portuguese and this is the first time that i see this blog (and sorry for my English).

Salazar was an dictator for politics, not for the people. He transform Portugal for better in many aspects, like education, finance(he transform Portugal of very poor to an rich one in only a few years) , transportation, industry, work, healthy, energy, and very much others.
He have bad things like the called 'ultramar war', the PIDE(secret police of the state/ politic police), the excess of catholic religion,...
Some of the accusations that his accused of made of are inventions or excess made by communists(after 1974 govern Portugal and almost transform in a communist dictatore , and a civil war, into 25 Nov 1976)
He change Portugal, and any other person done so much for Portugal like him.
Because all that his was considered the great Portuguese of all time.

Pipapakigrafo said...

Salazar was a tipic dictator: started well and ended terribly!

You can be shure that in Portugal, the majority of people don't see Salazar as the greatest portuguese ever....

He maybe is the most famous one... but not the greatest.

And in reality, a concept such as that doesn't exist at all!

Qho the hell is a better portuguese than the other?

Where is the definition of being portugues?

Once you read this definitions you will see that such concept of THE GREATEST PORTUGUESE EVER doesn't exist at all...

an bye tha tha way...

fuck all thet dictators scum!
fuack Salazar as well!

Anonymous said...

I agree with Pipapakigrafo.
All forms of dictatorship are ways of fuckin the people, either communist or fascist.

Pedro Leite Ribeiro said...

People who voted in salazar represents 0,7% of the continent voting citizens, that means not considering that under 18 years old could vote and people with more than one telephone could give two or more votes. It represents nothing... It's a storm in a glass of water.

Anonymous said...

Salazar was a superb citizen who defended our country against communist danger.

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Anonymous said...

Salazar was a great man. Portugal needs another like him today!