50th anniversary of Portugal’s 25 April 1974

Today marks the 50th anniversary of Portugal’s 25 April 1974 Carnation Revolution which put an end to one of Europe’s longest lasting authoritarian regimes. It gives us an opportunity to examine the  international impact of this uprising which stemmed from a prolonged colonial war and opposition to the Salazar dictatorship against the background of the post-1968 era of student protests and the continuing Cold War. It garnered significant global interest and became a source of inspiration for other movements. What began as a coup lead by young officers who were forced to fight in a war waged by the Portuguese military in Africa, earned its name from the red carnations which were placed in the barrels of the rifles carried by the soldiers of the left leaning MFA (Armed Forces Movement). The revolution's uniqueness lies in its peaceful nature and in the fact that its aim was to establish a democratic regime and not a particular faction. It marked the onset of a process of democratisation in Southern Europe, and was soon followed by the demise of the Spanish and Greek dictatorships.

In recent years, Europe has witnessed a worrying rise of far-right parties, with unprecedented results in national elections. Portugal is no exception to this trend, as evidenced by the recent success of the far-right party "Chega," which garnered a record-breaking 18% of the votes in parliamentary elections. This victory reflects the far-right’s progress across Europe, with similar parties achieving electoral success in Italy, Hungary, Slovakia, and the Netherlands, underscoring an alarming trend towards political extremism across the continent.