Chronology of the 25th of April: The years of the Carnation Revolution

From April 25, 1974 to July 1975, Portuguese political life became radicalized

April 25, 1974 – Photo by Eduardo Gageiro

A movement of captains, later transformed into the Armed Forces Movement (MFA), overthrew, on April 25, 1974, the 48-year-old dictatorial regime founded by António Salazar.

The soldiers who led the Carnation Revolution contested the colonial war in Africa, which had been going on for 13 years and had claimed thousands of lives, and promised free elections and a democratic regime.

António de Spínola, author of the book “Portugal e o Futuro”, which contested the idea of ​​a military victory in the colonial war, was chosen as president of the Junta de Salvação Nacional (JSN) and the leaders of the PCP, Álvaro Cunhal, and the PS , Mário Soares, were able to return from exile.

From April 25, 1974 to July 1975, Portuguese political life became radicalized – Spínola resigned as President in 1974, claiming that the country was ungovernable and on the way to a left-wing dictatorship, the nationalization of banks, insurance and industries had already been consummated, land occupation and agrarian reform advanced. And a Council of the Revolution was created.

The beginning of the end of the Revolutionary Process in Course (PREC) only happened after the 25th of November.


Chronology of events from 1973 to 1975, the years of the revolution:


4 April

In Aveiro, the III Congress of the Democratic Opposition takes place, under close surveillance by the political police, the PIDE.

Marcello Caetano's visit to London is used by the British press to denounce the massacres of Portuguese colonialism in Wiriyamu, Mozambique.

19 April

At an ASP meeting, held near Bonn, the PS is founded, led by Mário Soares.

9 September

Clandestine meeting of captains on Monte Sobral (Alcáçovas): birth of the MFA.

24 September

Guinea-Bissau's independence is unilaterally proclaimed.



February 22

Publication of the book “Portugal and the Future”, by General António de Spínola, in which he defends a political solution, not a military one, to the colonial war.

14 March

The Government dismisses generals Spínola and Costa Gomes as Chief and Deputy Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces, for missing a ceremony of solidarity with the regime, baptized by the opposition as “Brigada do Reumático”. The dismissal of the two generals will be decisive in accelerating military operations against the regime.

16 March

Failed attempt at a military coup against the regime. Only Infantry Regiment 5 from Caldas da Rainha marches on Lisbon. Around 200 soldiers were arrested.

24 March

Clandestine meeting of the MFA Coordinating Committee, in which the fall of the regime and the military coup are decided.

24 April

The transmission of the song “E tarde do Adeus”, performed by Paulo de Carvalho, by Emissores Associados de Lisboa, marks the beginning of military operations against the regime.

25 April

The song “Grândola Vila Morena”, by José Afonso, broadcast by Rádio Renascença, is the password to start operations.

Occupation of strategic points considered fundamental (RTP, Emissora Nacional, Rádio Clube Português, Lisbon Airport, Headquarters, General Staff of the Army, Ministry of the Army, Banco de Portugal and Marconi). The paramilitary forces loyal to the regime begin to surrender: the Portuguese Legion is the first.

Spínola, mandated by the MFA, goes to the Carmo Quartel to receive the surrender of Marcello Caetano and the Government.

26 April

PIDE/DGS surrenders. Presentation of the Junta de Salvação Nacional to the country, through RTP. General Spínola is designated President of the Republic. Release of political prisoners from Caxias and Peniche prisons.

April 28st and 30nd

Return to Portugal of the leaders of the Socialist Party (Mário Soares) and the Portuguese Communist Party (Álvaro Cunhal).

May 1

Demonstration of the 1st of May, in Lisbon, gathers around 500.000 people.

May 4

The MRPP organizes the first demonstration to boycott the shipment of soldiers to the colonies.

May 16

Taking office of the First Provisional Government, chaired by Adelino da Palma Carlos.

May 20

Américo Tomás and Marcello Caetano leave for exile in Brazil.

May 26

The first National Minimum Wage is set at 3.300$00.


A large popular movement of occupations of uninhabited houses begins, which will last for several months. The JSN legalizes, on May 19, the occupations carried out, but prohibits new occupations.

July 9

Prime Minister Palma Carlos resigns, claiming he does not have the political conditions to govern.

July 12

General Vasco Gonçalves is appointed by Spínola as Prime Minister of the Second Provisional Government.

July 27

Spínola recognizes the right to independence of the African colonies.

6 September

Lusaka Accords between Frelimo and the Portuguese Government.

9 September

The Portuguese Government recognizes Guinea-Bissau as an independent country.

10 September

Spínola's appeal to the so-called “Silent Majority”, in an attempt to seek support from the most conservative sectors of Portuguese society. Days later, a demonstration in support of Spínola is announced for the 28th.

28 September

In response to the announced demonstration of the “Silent Majority” popular barricades are organized next to the exits of Lisbon and throughout the country. More than a hundred people linked to the deposed regime, members of the Portuguese Legion and active participants in the demonstration are arrested.

30 September

Dismissal of Spínola as President of the Republic and appointment of General Costa Gomes. Possession of the III Provisional Government, headed by Vasco Gonçalves.

6 October

“A day of work for the Nation”, proposed by the prime minister. A Sunday is transformed into a working day offered free of charge by workers to the country. Result: around 13.000 contos.

December 13th

The United States grants the Portuguese Government a financial loan within the scope of an Economic Aid Plan for Portugal.



January 5

Alvor Accords between the Portuguese Government and the Angolan liberation movements. Date of independence: November 11, 1975.

January 28

MFA prohibits all demonstrations during the period in which NATO maneuvers in Lisbon will take place.

February 2

Rural workers occupy abandoned land on the Picote estate, in Montemor-o-Novo. It is the beginning of the Agrarian Reform.

11 March

Deep divisions among MFA officials. The Spinolist wing attempts a coup d'état. Insurrection at the Tancos Air Base and air attack on the RAL1 Headquarters in Lisbon. Escape to Spain by Spínola and other officers. COPCON, headed by Otelo Saraiva de Carvalho, reinforces powers.

12 March

The Junta de Salvação Nacional and the Council of State are extinguished, replaced by the Council of the Revolution. The Government begins the execution of a major nationalization plan (banking, insurance, transport).

26 March

Inauguration of the IV Provisional Government, headed by Vasco Gonçalves.

11 April

Platform agreement MFA/Parties signed by CDS, FSP, MDP, PCP, PPD and PS. The agreement aims at recognizing, on the part of the parties, the need to maintain the influence of the MFA in the political life of the country for a transition period of three to five years, which would end with a constitutional revision.

25 April

Constituent Assembly elections with a turnout of 91,7%. Results: PS 37,9%; PPD 26,4%; PCP 12,5%; CDS 7,6%; MDP 4,1%; UDP 0,7%.

May 19

Beginning of the so-called “Republic Case”. Raul Rêgo is removed from the direction of the newspaper by the workers, accusing him of having turned República into an unofficial organ of the PS.

July 8

MFA publishes the Document “Aliança POVO/MFA. For the construction of a socialist society in Portugal.”

July 12

Speaking to the press, the US Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, said: “Portugal is America’s concern.”

July 13

Assault on the headquarters of the PCP in Rio Maior. A series of violent actions against the headquarters of left-wing political parties and organizations began, registered throughout the country, but with greater intensity in the North and Centre. This wave of violence, associated with conservative forces, became known as the “Hot Summer”.

July 19

PS triggers large demonstrations (the largest at Fonte Luminosa, in Lisbon, on July 19), leaving the Government on July 16. The PPD too.

July 27

Escape of 88 ex-PIDE/DGS agents from Alcoentre prison.

July 30

A “triumvirate” is created, which now leads the Council of the Revolution – Costa Gomes (President), Vasco Gonçalves (Prime Minister) and Otelo Saraiva de Carvalho (Head of COPCON – Mainland Operational Command).

7 August

The Documento Melo Antunes is announced, supported by the Group of Nine, of moderate military members of the MFA, who are opposed to the theses of the Document Guia Povo/MFA.

8 August

The Fifth Provisional Government takes office, headed by Vasco Gonçalves.

10 August

Melo Antunes and supporters are removed from the Council of the Revolution.

12 August

Appearance of the “COPCON Document”, as opposed to the “Document of Nine”, which defends popular power.

30 August

Vasco Gonçalves is dismissed as prime minister.

10 September

The diversion of a thousand G3 automatic rifles from army installations in Beirolas.

19 September

VI Provisional Government, headed by Pinheiro de Azevedo, takes office.

21th and 22th of September

The political struggle in the streets intensifies: demonstration by the Disabled Armed Forces with occupation of access tollbooths to Lisbon and attempted kidnapping of the Government. Nationalizations continue.

25 September

New demonstration by Soldados Unidos Venceremos (SUV) in Lisbon.

26 September

The Government decides to withdraw from COPCON “the powers of intervention to restore public order”.

27 September

Protesters from leftist parties assault and destroy the premises of the Spanish Embassy as a measure of protest against the execution of five Basque nationalists by the Franco regime.

15 October

The Government orders the installations of Rádio Renascença, occupied since May by workers, to be sealed. But the occupation remains.

November 7

Violent clashes in the Rio Maior region between representatives of the Collective Production Units (UCP) and Agricultural Cooperatives of the Agrarian Reform Intervention Zone (linked to the rural workers sector) and representatives of CAP – Confederation of Portuguese Farmers, of agricultural landowners.

November 12

Demonstration of civil construction workers surrounds the São Bento Palace, kidnapping deputies.

November 25

About a thousand paratroopers from the Escola de Tancos Base occupy the Monsanto Air Region Command and six air bases, an act that the Group of Nine considered an indication that a coup d'état by the so-called military left could be in preparation. The President of the Republic, Francisco da Costa Gomes, decrees a state of siege in the Lisbon region. Soldiers belonging to the Group of Nine are in control of the situation.

November 26

Commandos from Amadora attack the Military Police Regiment, a military unit considered close to the political forces of the revolutionary left.

November 27

Generals Carlos Fabião and Otelo Saraiva de Carvalho are removed from the positions of Chief of Staff of the Army and Commander of COPCON, respectively. General Ramalho Eanes is the new Chief of Staff of the Army.

November 28

The VI Provisional Government resumes functions.

[Chronology elaborated from the book “Pulsar da República” (Ed. Afrontamento), chronology of the Documentation Center 25 de Abril (Univ. Coimbra), “Dossier Terrorismo” (Ed. Avante!)]