After the so-called “Carnation Revolution” of 1974 in Portugal the hopes for renewal were strong: following the fall of the very long Salazar dictatorship, the new socialist government advocated a radical transformation of Portuguese productive structures, largely inadequate to the needs of a modern country (increase mechanization of the agricultural sector and related rationalization of land management, acceleration of the industrialization process, incentives for investments, strengthening of infrastructures, especially road infrastructures, etc.) and no less incisive reforms in the social field. But the cultural backwardness and, in general, the delays to be bridged in every area of the country’s life have in a short time frustrated the expectations that the international recession of the early 1980s also affected. The serious errors committed by the government should not be underestimated: for example the confiscation of large estates and land reform (aimed inter alia at the creation of collective farms), which involved approx. 1.7 million ha, sometimes meant indiscriminate expropriation and in any case aroused the violent reactions of small farmers in the North, a traditionally conservative area. In the same way, the subsequent attempts of partial “restoration” met the fierce resistance of the cooperatives of former laborers who had sprung up on the expropriated estates of the they have sometimes meant indiscriminate expropriations and in any case have aroused the violent reactions of small farmers in the North, a traditionally conservative area. In the same way, the subsequent attempts of partial “restoration” met the fierce resistance of the cooperatives of former laborers who had sprung up on the expropriated estates of the they have sometimes meant indiscriminate expropriations and in any case have aroused the violent reactions of small farmers in the North, a traditionally conservative area.
In the same way, according to cheeroutdoor, the subsequent attempts of partial “restoration” met the fierce resistance of the cooperatives of former laborers who had sprung up on the expropriated estates of the Alentejo, the great agricultural region of the South. Even nationalizations, which practically invested the entire economic apparatus of the country in 1974-75 – from banks and insurance companies to basic industries, from transport to communication routes and so on. – they were often excessively hasty and did not take into account the fact that there was a lack of a technical and entrepreneurial class capable of replacing the previous class; it was therefore verified that the leading cadres, drastically distanced at the beginning, quickly resumed the centers of power as the worsening of the economic crisis, questioning the full extent of the 1974 revolution, inevitably led to the reprivatization of a large part of the production apparatus. The uncertain political climate, the acute social tensions, the abrupt alternation of programmatic lines inevitably caused a sharp drop in production, both agricultural and industrial; this is also due to the lack of internal and international capital inflows (financial interests were not few or modest ones were threatened or directly affected by the new government course) with a consequent drastic decrease in investments.
Finally, we cannot forget the repercussions that colonial events had on Portuguese political life. If on the one hand the loss of the colonies meant for the country to finally be able to put an end to the very high war costs sustained for a long time and unnecessarily for the maintenance of the overseas territories, on the other hand Portugal saw itself deprived of the usual sources of cheap raw materials. market, especially those destined for the fundamental textile industry. No less serious factor for the fragile structures of the Portuguese economy was the return home of approx. a million former settlers, the so-called retornados, which made a situation which has always been characterized by heavy unemployment almost unsustainable; the balance of payments, moreover, recorded a clear worsening, with reflections of growth of the already considerable external debt, due to the reduction in remittances linked to the return of part of the emigrants and the thinning of outgoing migratory flows, phenomena determined by the fall in opportunities of work in strong European economies. By a similar series of negative circumstances, the country was therefore induced to radically change its economic policy guidelines; this process has undergone a strong acceleration with the decision to join the EEC (ratification of 12 June 1985, which became effective from 1 January of the following year). With a view to a more complete integration at the European level, thanks to the favorable international economic situation (and in part to substantial Community aid), a phase of lively development was thus achieved in the second half of the 1980s, which almost subverted the image of autarchic immobility of the Salazar period, significantly raising the rate of increase in gross domestic product (approx. 3% per year). Not a secondary factor in this evolution was the simultaneous and growing liberalization of the national economy, which by focusing on the encouragement of private initiative and on the complete openness to foreign investment has brought it reasons of vitality: the culminating episode took place in the 1989 with the repeal of constitutional norms of socialist inspiration, accompanied by a a similar revision of labor law and the privatization of most of the nationalized lands in 1975; in order to dampen the tensions generated in the economic system and reduce the size of the state deficit, however, deflationary policies were necessary and austerity which, however, did not have any significant negative effects in the employment field. Without neglecting the urgent need to raise the very low productivity of the agricultural sector, attention has been focused above all on industry, destined, as everywhere, to have a decisive economic weight in Portugal as well. It had long been opposed by Salazar, who feared the claims of the future working class and the birth of an equally dangerous, pro-European entrepreneurial bourgeoisie for him, which would have required the opening of the country to markets and currents of international ideas.
The country’s economic expansion continued uninterrupted throughout the nineties, with one exception in 1993 and with a hint of slowdown in the last two years of the century. XX for the impossibility of expanding the production capacity of the system in the short term. The measures taken by the government to promote the country’s entry into Economic and Monetary Union are the basis of this positive period of the Portuguese economy, which nevertheless remains one of the poorest countries in the historic bloc of the European Union, with a per capita GDP of US $ 23,186 in 2018. Portugal’s economic structure, which gives ample space to low-skilled and poorly paid work, remains fragile and dependent on the evolution of competitiveness with Asian and Eastern European countries. Furthermore, it is largely influenced by European Union aid implemented through the structural funds and the so-called “cohesion fund” (established after the Maastricht Treaty). The percentage of the active population in the primary sector is very high (6% in 2018), especially in relation to the modest contribution of the sector to GDP (2.3%), confirming its backwardness. In the context of productive activities, services have experienced the best results, both in terms of employment and income, and among these in particular those connected to tourism. In the first months of 2004, after a period that foreshadowed a phase of recession for the country, national wealth returned to registering modest growth (0.8%). On the other hand, the question of the public deficit, which remains outside the limits set by the EU Stability Pact of 2001, remains rather problematic.