Country Listing

Portugal Table of Contents



Peasants were long the neglected and forgotten people of Portuguese politics. Although the largest group numerically, they were the weakest politically. Nonparticipation was encouraged by Salazar's strategy of keeping the peasants illiterate and apathetic.

The peasants comprised a variety of groups. A basic distinction exists between the conservative peasants of the north who own their small plots of land, and the peasants of the south who have no land, live under conditions of tenancy, and have been receptive to the appeals of radical political groups. The PCP, for example, had quietly organized southern peasants under its banner even during the Salazar era. During and after the Revolution of 1974, the south, especially the Alentejo, was a hotbed of land seizures, radical political action, and strong voting preferences for the PCP.

Since the revolution, however, both the PS and the PSD have made electoral inroads into what were PCP strongholds in the south. The rural areas were once again to some degree depoliticized , although the countryside would never return to the quiescence of decades past, despite the large numbers of farmers and agrarian laborers who migrated to urban areas or went abroad.

Data as of January 1993