Portugal: Local Democracy in a Small Centralized Republic

José M. Magone

in The Oxford Handbook of Local and Regional Democracy in Europe

Published in print November 2010 | ISBN: 9780199562978
Published online January 2011 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Politics & International Relations

Portugal: Local Democracy in a Small Centralized Republic

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  • Regional Political Studies
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Portugal is one of the most centralized countries of the European Union. It only became a genuine democracy after the Revolution of Carnations in 1974. Only then did local authorities and autonomous regions such as Madeira and Azores became genuine local governments, despite the still existing high level of centralization. Since the transformation of Portugal from authoritarian regime into democracy, several changes have taken place. Following the revolution there came the introduction of universal adult suffrage. This was followed by the forming of the Constituent Assembly and the ratification of the new constitution. The new constitution enshrined the establishment of democratically elected administrative regions, which would replace the districts. This allowed local authorities to engage in public-private partnership and allowed for the formation of inter-municipal cooperation. In spite of the success of the new constitution and democracy, Portugal is still battered by weak social capital, clientelism and patronage, and regionalization. All of these affect Portugal' process of achieving subnational democracy.

Keywords: Portugal; European Union; Revolution of Carnations; Madeira; Azores; democracy; subnational democracy; autonomous regions; local governments

Article.  8710 words. 

Subjects: Politics ; Regional Political Studies ; Comparative Politics

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