The Impact and Meaning of ‘Non-Competitive, Non-Free and Insignificant’ Elections in Authoritarian Portugal, 1933–74

  • Philippe C. Schmitter


Any analysis of elections in authoritarian Portugal (1 933–74) must appear either, at best, a harmless instance of scholastic trivia designed to show off the researcher’s technical wizardry or, at worst, a dangerous example of insidious apologia intended to place that defunct regime in some more favourable light. It is hoped that the following essay is neither, but it does seem pertinent to raise ab initio such questions as: what could one possibly learn from a national voting experience of over forty years during which, through repression, manipulation, exclusion, distortion and outright fraud, a regime managed to win every single election for every single office contested? What conceivable meaning could elections have had in a situation where they were non-competitive, non-free and without consequences — to categorise them in the terms offered us in Chapter ï by Guy Hermet? Why did that manifestly anti-liberal, anti-democratic regime bother to hold even a simulacre of elections at all? And why did the Portuguese citizenry bother to participate when no one had any doubt as to their issue?


Authoritarian Regime Electoral Process Authoritarian Rule Opposition Party Electoral District 
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© Philippe C. Schmitter 1978

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  • Philippe C. Schmitter

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