Iberian Democratic Transitions: Portugal and Spain in Compared Perspective

Iberian Democratic Transitions: Portugal and Spain in Compared Perspective

December 27th of 2008 will mark the thirtieth anniversary of the proclamation of the Spanish Constitution, which is considered the final event of the Spanish transition to democracy that had started on November 20th 1975, with the death of the dictator Franco.
On the 23rd of July of 2006, thirty years have passed since the oath of office of the first Portuguese Constitutional Government that signalized the end of the Portuguese transitional process, which had begun in the 25th of April of 1974, through the military coup known as the "Captains' Movement", that overthrew the authoritarian regime.
Portugal and Spain, only countries in the same peninsula, with a quite similar political history, possessing almost the same cultural, economical and social characteristics, started almost chronologically coincidental democratic transition processes, but vastly different both on the way they began and how they progressed.
The Portuguese transition was a military coup that rapidly became a cultural, economical and social revolution. By contrast, the Spanish transition was a negotiated settlement between elements of the authoritarian and the liberalization elites. However, the end result would be the same: a successful transition to a fully fledged democracy.
Our objective is to study, in a comparative perspective, different dimensions of political and social life in both countries, during their respective transitional periods, in order to understand to what extent the different type of transition (revolution versus negotiation) may (or not) account for the different behaviour of the countries.
To that effect, this project will follow three primary lines of research, and two secondary case-studies. Each one of the primary lines of research is a part of a doctoral investigation by a member of the research team, while the case-studies are the subjects of master thesis.
1) The comparative study of the foreign policy of Portugal and Spain during their respective transitions to democracy will be undertaken, with the goal of trying to ascertain if indeed the different mode of transition impacted on the countries international positioning. It may be theorized that a revolutionary transition may incur a realignment of the previous regime foreign policy, while a negotiated elite settlement through its path dependency may bring with the maintenance of the previous elite's international relations.
2) The comparative study of transitional political institutions will also be conducted in this project, with a special emphasis in both countries' constitutional assemblies. There will be an attempt to study why this was the process in which both constitutions were negotiated, by opposition to other means of constitutional rule-making such as simple popular referendum and government imposition, to name a few. As it can be easily seen from their common history, a constitutional assembly was not the only possibility.
3) A third line of research will endeavour to study the mutual effects of the almost coincidental regime change in both countries. In this we will attempt to ascertain to what extent the Portuguese revolutionary events may have influenced the course and mode of the Spanish democratization. In this matter, specific attention will be given to social movements and political ideological groups in attempt to determinate possible cross-border mutual influences. Also, possible Spanish influence in the height of the revolutionary fervour of Portuguese transition will be studied.
Beyond these three primary lines of research, two small case-studies will also be undertaken: a transitional justice study of the PIDE (Portuguese secret police) agents after the revolution; and the study of the impact of NATO membership in the Portuguese transition.
The principal empirical gathering of this project will consist of three types of data:
a) Recently open Portuguese and Spanish archives, in lieu of the fact that the traditional thirty years closure has passed.
b) Interviews to the surviving principal political actors, and/or to their close support staff at the time of the democratic transitions.
c) Recollection and compilation of primary publications of the period, such as newspaper and magazines, political party periodicals, among others.
We will also take particular notice of need for the Portuguese political science to incorporate the most recent state of the art in the study of democratic transitions. To that effect, this project goes to great lengths to acquire the principal academic works of renowned transitologists, as well as the most recent publications in the field. Such an action requires the resources of a funded research project.

Estatuto: 
Proponent entity
Financed: 
No
Keywords: 

Democratic Transition, Transitional Justice, Comparative Politics, Iberian Peninsula

December 27th of 2008 will mark the thirtieth anniversary of the proclamation of the Spanish Constitution, which is considered the final event of the Spanish transition to democracy that had started on November 20th 1975, with the death of the dictator Franco.
On the 23rd of July of 2006, thirty years have passed since the oath of office of the first Portuguese Constitutional Government that signalized the end of the Portuguese transitional process, which had begun in the 25th of April of 1974, through the military coup known as the "Captains' Movement", that overthrew the authoritarian regime.
Portugal and Spain, only countries in the same peninsula, with a quite similar political history, possessing almost the same cultural, economical and social characteristics, started almost chronologically coincidental democratic transition processes, but vastly different both on the way they began and how they progressed.
The Portuguese transition was a military coup that rapidly became a cultural, economical and social revolution. By contrast, the Spanish transition was a negotiated settlement between elements of the authoritarian and the liberalization elites. However, the end result would be the same: a successful transition to a fully fledged democracy.
Our objective is to study, in a comparative perspective, different dimensions of political and social life in both countries, during their respective transitional periods, in order to understand to what extent the different type of transition (revolution versus negotiation) may (or not) account for the different behaviour of the countries.
To that effect, this project will follow three primary lines of research, and two secondary case-studies. Each one of the primary lines of research is a part of a doctoral investigation by a member of the research team, while the case-studies are the subjects of master thesis.
1) The comparative study of the foreign policy of Portugal and Spain during their respective transitions to democracy will be undertaken, with the goal of trying to ascertain if indeed the different mode of transition impacted on the countries international positioning. It may be theorized that a revolutionary transition may incur a realignment of the previous regime foreign policy, while a negotiated elite settlement through its path dependency may bring with the maintenance of the previous elite's international relations.
2) The comparative study of transitional political institutions will also be conducted in this project, with a special emphasis in both countries' constitutional assemblies. There will be an attempt to study why this was the process in which both constitutions were negotiated, by opposition to other means of constitutional rule-making such as simple popular referendum and government imposition, to name a few. As it can be easily seen from their common history, a constitutional assembly was not the only possibility.
3) A third line of research will endeavour to study the mutual effects of the almost coincidental regime change in both countries. In this we will attempt to ascertain to what extent the Portuguese revolutionary events may have influenced the course and mode of the Spanish democratization. In this matter, specific attention will be given to social movements and political ideological groups in attempt to determinate possible cross-border mutual influences. Also, possible Spanish influence in the height of the revolutionary fervour of Portuguese transition will be studied.
Beyond these three primary lines of research, two small case-studies will also be undertaken: a transitional justice study of the PIDE (Portuguese secret police) agents after the revolution; and the study of the impact of NATO membership in the Portuguese transition.
The principal empirical gathering of this project will consist of three types of data:
a) Recently open Portuguese and Spanish archives, in lieu of the fact that the traditional thirty years closure has passed.
b) Interviews to the surviving principal political actors, and/or to their close support staff at the time of the democratic transitions.
c) Recollection and compilation of primary publications of the period, such as newspaper and magazines, political party periodicals, among others.
We will also take particular notice of need for the Portuguese political science to incorporate the most recent state of the art in the study of democratic transitions. To that effect, this project goes to great lengths to acquire the principal academic works of renowned transitologists, as well as the most recent publications in the field. Such an action requires the resources of a funded research project.

Objectivos: 
<p>This project has the objective of attempting to determinate how the different forms of democratic transition (revolution versus pact) may have affected several dimensions of political and social life in two countries otherwise remarkably similar: Portugal and Spain. <br /><br />To that effect, we have three primary goals: the study of the foreign policies of the two countries during their transition to democracy; the comparative analysis of transitional political institutions with an emphasis on the two constitutional assemblies; and the research on the mutual effects of two almost simultaneous regime changes in countries so politically, economically, socially and culturally connected. <br /><br />Beyond the research goals, it is also an objective of this project to bring the most advanced knowledge on Comparative Politics to Portuguese political science, in particular to a new generation of young scholars. With this project they will be able to make their dissertations the true state of the art in their subjects, even by international standards.</p>
Maria Inácia Rezola
Filipa Raimundo
José Reis Santos
Luís Nuno Rodrigues
Raquel Cardeira Varela
Isabel Alcario
Coordenador 
Start Date: 
01/09/2007
End Date: 
01/09/2010
Duração: 
36 meses
Closed