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Revolutionary versus reactionary: contrasting Portuguese and Spanish civil-military relations during democratisation

Olivas Osuna, José Javier (2019) Revolutionary versus reactionary: contrasting Portuguese and Spanish civil-military relations during democratisation. War & Society, 38 (3). pp. 225-248. ISSN 0729-2473

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Identification Number: 10.1080/07292473.2019.1617663


The military is an important factor for the success or failure of democratisation processes. Portugal and Spain provide two paradigmatic cases. Despite their socio-economic, political and cultural similarities, these countries developed very different civil-military relations which significantly impacted their transitions. After having handed power over to a civilian dictator, Salazar, the Portuguese military eventually caused the downfall of his authoritarian Estado Novo regime and steered the transition to democracy. In contrast, the Spanish military, which had helped Franco defeat the Second Republic, remained loyal to the dictator’s principles and, after his death, obstructed the democratisation process. Drawing on primary and secondary sources, this interdisciplinary article contrasts the challenges posed by the military and the policies implemented by the Iberian governments to depoliticise and control it. It shows that the failed coups d’état in these countries helped tighten civilian control and paved the way for democratic consolidation. Using a policy instruments comparative framework, this paper demonstrates that not only the attitudes of the military but also the tools used to keep them under control were substantially different in Portugal and Spain. Historical legacies from the Spanish Civil War, Second World War and Colonial conflicts, as well as contextual factors, serve to explain this variation

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2019 School of Humanities and Social Sciences, UNSW Canberra
Divisions: International Development
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DP Spain
J Political Science > JN Political institutions (Europe)
Date Deposited: 28 May 2019 11:27
Last Modified: 20 Oct 2021 02:39

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