San José State University
Department of Economics
Thayer Watkins
Silicon Valley
& Tornado Alley

Antonio Salazar de Oliveira
of Portugal and his Estado Novo

Antonio Salazar

Antonio de Oliveira Salazar was an economics professor who came to rule Portugal as a dictator. He was born in 1889 to Antonio de Oliviera and Resgate Salazar in the province of Beira Alto in Portugal. Thus Salazar was his mother's family name. This means that in all the decades that he ruled Portugal the English-speaking world never got his name right. It should have been Antonio de Oliviera or, in modern practice, Antonio Oliviera-Salazar.

His parents owned land and had sufficient resources to send Antonio to school and at age eleven he was sent to a seminary to become a priest. But at an age of about 19 after eight years in the seminary he decided that he did not want to become a priest. He did not immediately further his career and it wasn't until 1910 at an age of about 21 that he entered the University of Coimbra, the most prestigous university of Portugal. Four years later he received a degree in economics.

His performance at University of Coimbra was sufficiently high that received an academic appointment there. In 1918 he was made professor.

While teaching at Coimbra University he wrote articles on political economy and gave speeches. He gained sufficient fame that he was elected in 1921 to the national legislature of Portugal. In 1926 there was a coup d'etat and the leaders of the coup offerred Antonio Salazar the finance ministry. He accepted with stipulations and when those stipulations were not met he resigned five days after his appointment. He went back to teaching at Coimbra University. Two years later, in 1928, the leader of the government asked Salazar to become the finance minister and met the stipulations that Salazar demanded.

Salazar had demanded and received virtual control of the Portuguese government through his finance ministership. He balanced the budget and brought financial propriety to the Portuguese government. In 1932 Salazar became president of the Council of Ministries which ruled Portugal. In 1933 Salazar formally created the Estado Novo, a corporatist state adhering to a system of social justice promulgated in the papal encyclical Rerum Novarum which had been issued in 1915. Salazar continued to rule Portugal through the next three and half decades. The corporatist regime continued to rule after Salazar suffered a stroke in 1968 until it was overthrown by a military coup d'etat in 1974. Salazar died in 1970. The military junta after it came to power in 1974 carried out a socialist revolution.

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