Navigation – Plan du site

AccueilNuméros53-1Dossier. 50 years of Scholarship ...Close, yet different. The Souther...

Dossier. 50 years of Scholarship on the Southern European Democratic Transitions: A Comparative Approach

Close, yet different. The Southern European transitions of the 1970s revisited

Proches, mais différents. Les transitions de l’Europe du Sud des années 1970 revisitées
Parecidas, pero diferentes. Las transiciones del sur de Europa de los años setenta revisitadas
Diego Palacios Cerezales et Víctor Fernández Soriano


L’idée que le Portugal, la Grèce et l’Espagne partagent un modèle de transition de la dictature à la démocratie a été proposée, critiquée et relancée plusieurs fois au cours des quatre dernières décennies. Après une étude des critères trouvés dans la littérature, cet article développe une exploration comparative des trois Transitions, guidée par la définition de la démocratie comme un système de gouvernement efficace fondé sur le pouvoir du peuple, opérationnalisé en trois dimensions clés. La première est la reconfiguration du peuple par le biais de la redéfinition des frontières et du contenu de la nation. La deuxième est le moyen déployé pour exprimer et canaliser les préférences politiques de la population, notamment les élections, les référendums et les manifestations. La dernière dimension est la transformation de l’appareil policier qui contribue à rendre le gouvernement efficace. Il existe d’importantes différences dans la direction du changement et la centralité des éléments de ces trois dimensions, notamment en ce qui concerne les choix relatifs à la redéfinition de la communauté nationale, l’utilisation des référendums et l’urgence de la réforme de la police. Cependant, les trois pays ont réussi à devenir des démocraties multipartites, ce qui suggère que même si toutes les voies ouvertes pour chaque pays n’auraient pas abouti à la démocratie, celle-ci était le résultat possible de nombreux ensembles différents de choix collectifs et individuels.

Haut de page

Texte intégral

1Is there a Southern European model of transition to democracy? Ever since the 1980s, scholars stress the influence of the transitional processes in Portugal, Greece, and Spain of the 1970s over later transitions, whether in Latin America in the 1980s, or in Eastern Europe in the 1990s. The differences between the three cases, however, have also engaged the attention of many observers. Even the idea itself that the three cases belonged to a common genus we now call “transitions to democracy” is a framework of analysis produced by a generation of political scientists projecting a term, coined in Spain, over the Portuguese Revolução and the Greek Μεταπολίτευση (Metapolitefsi).

2Scholars have pointed to different criteria to stress the similarities and the differences between the three cases. In the first section of this article, we explore the literature on the idea of a Southern European model and map the different conditions that hitherto have been used to either cluster or differentiate the three cases. From the coming and going of the idea that Portugal, Greece, and Spain shared a model of transition we will conclude that the similarities come to the forefront when the three countries are contrasted with a higher number of cases. Any closer comparison between the three cases, on the contrary, would highlight the differences. Instead of this being a problem, this is an excellent starting point for systematic comparative endeavours contrasting the three cases that may illuminate the peculiar dynamics of each country’s democratisation and democracy.

3In the sections that follow, this article develops a comparative exploration of three key dimensions to democracy during the regime transformations that allow us to triangulate between the three countries. The first dimension is the reconfiguration of the political community–who belongs to the nation and has full right to participate in politics? The second is the means deployed to express and channel the political preferences of the population, including elections, referenda and demonstrations. The final dimension is the transformation of the policing apparatus. This third dimension, moreover, reflects at least three facets of the transition process: the legacies of authoritarianism, the expression of the administrative configuration of the nation, and the primacy of the safeguarding of the rights of the citizenry and the enforcement of democratic mandates.

The Southern European model. The history of an idea

  • 1 Poulantzas, 1975.

4The idea that there has been a Southern European model of transition to democracy encompassing Portugal, Greece, and Spain has been around since the early 1980s. The clustering of the three cases emerged early, at least since Nicos Poulantzas’ 1975 book La crise des dictatures1, but it did not begin to be regarded as a model until democratic promoters in other countries looked to them for inspiration. During the events themselves, the differences were evident to many observers. While leftist sympathisers from all over the world flooded Portugal to eyewitness a social revolution–a rite of passage that resulted in a bountiful crop of Ph.D. theses on popular movements–Spain and Greece did not witness similar seasonal migrations.

  • 2 Pridham, 1984.
  • 3 Giner, 1982.
  • 4 Fishman, 1990, O’Donnell, 1990.

5In a seminal text from 1984, Geoffrey Pridham discussed the extent to which the new “Mediterranean” democracies belonged to a common model of regime transition. However, the commonalities he stressed pointed to geographical, temporal, and socio-demographic dimensions2. Similarly, Salvador Giner also emphasised the commonalities in the three countries’ previous long trajectories of unstable liberal constitutionalism and “fascissant dictatorship”3. Notwithstanding the merits of their approach, neither Pridham nor Giner were analytically clear in distinguishing types of society and models of liberal democracy from models of transition. The similarities they highlighted made apparent a family resemblance between the three countries’ circumstances, which they also associated with Italy. They also identified some common contrasting patterns regarding their civic culture and political development vis-à-vis Northern European benchmarks. Still, they said little regarding the likeness of their modes of transition themselves. The first crop of transitologists, moreover, with Linz, Schmitter, and O’Donnell at the forefront, stressed the importance of crisis, opportunities, decisions, and leadership, leaving little room for clustering the Southern European modes of regime change under a common typology4.

6The arguments against the idea of a common model were summed up by Lijphart in 1990:

  • 5 Lijphart, 1990, p. 68.

Each authoritarian regime came to an end as a result of very different events: the dictator’s death in the case of Spain, war and institutional exhaustion in Portugal, and the combination of internal crisis and foreign policy adventurism in Greece. Finally, the transitions to democracy occur under quite dissimilar ideological leaderships: the Conservatives in Greece, the left-leaning military in Portugal, and a broad coalition in Spain that practised what was referred to as “the politics of consensus”.5

  • 6 Pridham, Vanhanen, 1994, p. 23.

7Pridham himself was ready to concede, dismissing the importance of the discussion he had prompted. In contrast, he now emphasised that the resemblances regarding historical and social background could not disguise that “differences in the style of transition were apparent”6. This early acceptance may explain that, albeit academic literature is full of references to “Southern European” and “Mediterranean” “models”, often these discuss modes of integration of immigrant labour, typologies of welfare states or patterns of family life, but seldom modes of transition from dictatorship to democracy.

  • 7 Wiarda, 2002, p. 6.
  • 8 Huntington, 1991, p. 278.

8The discussion mentioned above understood “model” as meaning a common typology or style. However, studies on democratisation use at least two additional meanings of the idea of “model”. A model could also mean a source of inspiration, a successful experience to which politicians wishing to extricate their country from authoritarianism may refer for guidance. In this case, however, references to a Southern European model have been more rhetorical than fact-based. As Howard Wiarda stressed, advisers talking about the Southern European “model” as valuable guidance for Latin America and Eastern Europe in the 1980s and 1990s were, in reality, taking Spain as their paradigmatic case, “while Greece and Portugal [were] conveniently neglected”7. Huntington in The Third Wave also agreed that “the Spanish case, in particular, became the model for subsequent democratisations in Latin America and Eastern Europe”. The only concession Huntington made to the idea of a clustering was that the three countries experienced similar favourable conditions for the successful consolidation of their respective democracies8.

  • 9 Schmitter, 1999, p. 337.
  • 10 Sánchez Cervelló, 1993.

9It is safe to say that the idea that there was a model of transition shared by Greece, Portugal and Spain was early discussed but, by 1990, almost discarded. Philippe Schmitter, for example, when putting the democratisation of Portugal in comparative perspective, could only retain the idea that there had been “equifinality” among processes that were unique and peculiar9 (for a different reading of the same concept see the article by Mpalampanidis and Rezola). Another take was the exploration of the impact, both in positive and negative terms, of each case upon the others, with particular relevance regarding the influence of the Portuguese events on the Spanish Transition10. Still, if the Spanish political actors were learning from the Portuguese experience, any comparative approach dealing with the two cases as discrete instances would be methodologically flawed.

  • 11 Chilcote, 1990, p. 195.
  • 12 Chilcote, p. 197.
  • 13 Chilcote, p. 205.

10Yet, the existence of a Southern European model of sorts was not a closed file. Following the early lead from Poulantzas, Ronald Chilcote developed a Marxist approach to the three Transitions, challenging “mainstream political sciences” by putting the emphasis “social classes rather than institutional forces”11. In comparing the three cases, Chilcote took into account 27 variables, organised in six categories: reforms, transitional dimensions, crisis, class composition of the power block, and international influences. According to this matrix, Spain and Greece had behaved in the same way regarding all the variables, while Portugal shared the same sign in 23 of the 27 variables. In the three countries, the relative weight of the different sectors of the bourgeoisie within the power block would have shifted from the “comprador” towards the “domestic” bourgeoisie. The uniqueness of Portugal resided in it being the only case in which the popular classes had joined the power block, important economic reforms had been put in place, and the Third-World had exerted some influence12. From a Marxist standpoint, the three Transitions were part of a shared moment of capitalist development. Moreover, in the three cases, the division of the political left between those who favoured democratic procedures and those who emphasised the primacy of class struggle would have debilitated the prospect of a socialist outcome to the crisis of the 1970s13.

  • 14 Linz, Stepan, 1996, pp. 137-141.

11In 1996, when democratisation in Communist Europe already was well underway and Marxist analysis was losing practitioners, Linz and Stepan also revived the idea that Southern Europe shared peculiar elements which distinguished their Transitions from those of some Latin American and Eastern European cases. Not only did these countries share the elements previously highlighted by Pridham or Giner, but their dictatorships looked much more alike if we take into account the elements present in other countries that they did not contemplate: that is, the previous regimes in Southern Europe were neither sultanistic, nor totalitarian, led by the hierarchical military or sustained by a strong single party. Moreover, from a model-qua-advice perspective, they posed that Greece’s, Portugal’s and Spain’s Transitions shared a trajectory from presidential towards parliamentary government that eased the smooth workings of their democracies. Finally, the transition of the three countries, they said, followed an “optimal sequence”: they first concentrated on resolving the political organisation of democracy; then they focused on extending welfare policies and then, and only then, they addressed the need of structural economic reforms. This sequence contrasted with the rapid shrinking of the State and structural economic reforms observed in Latin America and Eastern Europe14.

12There is no doubt that political culture and social structures, the dimensions stressed by the first proponents of the Southern European model, played a role in democratisation. The design of the political system–presidential or parliamentary–or the nature of the previous regime, moreover, are also highly relevant. The same can be said of the welfare and economic agendas pursued during democratisation. Those dimensions, despite being key to the workings, legitimacy, and outcomes of the democratic process, do not address changes in the elements that constitute the core definition of democracy itself: an effective system of government built upon the rule of the people.

  • 15 Linz, Stepan, 1996, p.16.
  • 16 Tilly, 1983.
  • 17 Huntington, 1968.

13We have identified three criteria to employ in this comparative analysis of democratic transition tied to that core definition. The first is the redefinition of the demos. From a conceptual standpoint, before being able to project the idea that the people rules, it is necessary to have some criteria for delimiting who belongs to that people, that is, the configuration of the political nation15. Second, in order to rule, the people must express itself, either via formal means such as referenda and elections, or informal means, such as demonstrations and other forms of expressing collective preferences and commitments16. As we will see, the configuration of these means of popular expression and the role they played in the events was different in each transition. Finally, in order to be effective, the government needs to rely on an administrative and coercive apparatus17. The transformation of the police and its adaptation to the new role of protecting the rights of the citizenry is one of the contested elements of any democratization, and the trajectory of police reform diverged in the three cases.

Demos and National identity

14The societies of the three countries had to come to terms with their national identities after years of dictatorial propaganda praising national pride based on expansion, empire or irredentism. The new democratic regimes came up against the difficulty of putting out the fire of ultra-nationalism as the core argument of political discourse. The transition processes reshaped the public discourses on the nation and opened the floor up for other forms of national identity repressed by the dictatorships. Despite the similar ultra-nationalist starting point, the reformulation of the national identity followed very different paths in the three countries.

  • 18 Mendes, 2001.

15Imperialism had played a key role in the ideology of the Portuguese Estado Novo and was paramount in precipitating its fall. The colonial wars had undermined Portugal’s international reputation since the early 1960s and to some extent alienated it from some of its traditional allies. To put an end to the colonial wars was one of the main aims of the Carnation Revolution, for which social support seemed to be overwhelming. After April 1974, none of the mainstream Portuguese politicians dared promote the Portuguese national identity as being “pluricontinental”, as it had been put by the propaganda of the Estado Novo. The only Portuguese identity reclaimed abroad was that conveyed by the still fast-growing diaspora of émigrés, whereas the relocation of over half a million retornados from the former colonial territories closed the chapter of active imperialism. At the same time, the national reconfiguration of metropolitan Portugal resulted in the banning of sub-national political parties. This ban especially affected the Azores archipelago, where the anti-communist mobilisation of the summer of 1975 had toyed with the idea of a US-backed independence18.

16In Spain, imperialism had also played a role in the ideology of Francoism, even if this was rather a nostalgic reliance on the distorted mythification of historical figures such as Charles V or the Catholic Monarchs (Ferdinand and Isabella). After Franco’s death, imperialism faded away in the public rhetoric, although the trope of the old-time “Spanish empire” remained a die-hard commonplace in Spanish nationalist discourse. The new authorities of post-Franco Spain also wound down the irredentism over the British overseas territory of Gibraltar, which has, however, remained an unresolved dispute with Britain ever since.

17However, the stirring of ultra-nationalism by Franco’s dictatorship had a more important outcome in the transitional period: the upsurge of centrifugal national identities, especially (but not only) in Catalonia and in the Basque Country, as well as of the strong regional identities. Devolution policies were a key feature of the Spanish democratisation, which entailed the promotion of Catalan, Basque and Galician cultures, as opposed to their repression or oblivion during Franco’s years. It also opened opportunities for the development of distinct regional cultural expressions in Valencia, Andalusia, or the Canary Islands. King Juan Carlos’ first official trip, in January 1976, was to Catalonia, where he delivered a speech including some words in Catalan while in Barcelona. Also in 1976, the government authorised the first legal rallies for the national days of Catalonia (Diada) and the Basque Country (Aberri Eguna) since the Spanish Civil War. Article 2 of the December 1978 Constitution, while speaking of the “indissoluble unity of the Spanish nation” recognised a “right of autonomy” to the “nationalities” and regions of Spain. The constitution’s authors did not explain further what they meant by “nationalities”. Catalonia and the Basque Country were also the first regions to be granted autonomous governments and parliaments, as well as their own statute of autonomy in 1979. The new devolved governments were instrumental in promoting the local culture (through schooling, cultural policies, media, events, etc.) as well as national narratives of their own, commonly opposed to the Spanish nationalistic tradition, each one relying on their own symbols, anthems, public holidays, literature, and historical myths.

18The Greek modern state had relied on irredentism and assimilation of minorities into a Hellenic national identity. In this respect, it differed much from the cases of Portugal and Spain, whose metropolitan borders had remained unalterable for centuries. Greek modern borders are the outcome of expansionism based on the irredentist idea of a “Greater Greece” throughout the 19th Century and the first half of the 20th Century. According to the Greek nationalistic tradition, the “Greater Greece” was the homeland of all ethnic-Greeks (whose diaspora expanded to Romania, Crimea, Lebanon, or Egypt) and was identified with the lands of the Ancient Greece (mainland Greece, Thrace, the Ionian and Aegean islands, and, controversially, Western Anatolia), with some echoes of imperialism through references to Alexander the Great and Byzantium. The military fiasco in Cyprus in the summer of 1974, which precipitated the fall of the colonels’ regime, was the last attempt to fulfil Greek irredentism by force. Irredentist claims faded away with democracy, moving on mainly to maritime disputes with Turkey. The Greek democratic state easily accepted the partition of the historical regions of Epirus, Macedonia, and Thrace, and acknowledged the 1974 status quo in Cyprus. However, the Macedonia naming dispute, which emerged in 1991 and was only resolved in 2019, became a long-time sensitive matter in Greek politics, a frequent argument for debate, and even a cause for social unrest.

  • 19 Aarbakke, 2000; Tsitselikis, 2019.

19In addition, the promotion in Greece of a Hellenic identity had been instrumental in the assertion of the modern Greek state, at the expense of the multiple minorities that inhabited the territories annexed to Greece between 1830 and 1947. The Greek modern state had conducted policies of rapid assimilation of the minorities (Slavs, Vlachs, Albanians, Jews), which were considerably numerous in the north of the country, as well of the ethnic Greeks immigrated from Anatolia or the Black Sea, who spoke different dialects. Only the Muslim community of Western Thrace has historically received some form of recognition according to the terms of the fifth part of the Lausanne Treaty of 1923 on the “protection of minorities”: numbered approximately 86.000 in 1922 and 96.000 in 1991, Muslim Thracians in Greece have had local councils and could receive education in Turkish19.

  • 20 Beaton, 2020; Aarbakke, 2000.

20The colonels’ regime also promoted assimilation in a racist agenda, especially in Northern Greece, regarding the Slavic and Muslim communities. The Metapolitefsi did not change this situation. On the contrary, by 1974, assimilation of minorities was extensively accomplished and the new democratic state continued to promote a single Greek national identity as the cultural basis of the new republic. In the new state, there was no room for representativeness of the historical minorities, nor for recognition of minority languages, by then considered essentially extinct20.

  • 21 Patrikiou, 2017; Tziovas, 2021, pp. 125-142.

21The major shift that the democratic change brought to the Greek national identity concerned language. Until the beginning of the Metapolitefsi, the Greek language was diglossic. There was a highly formal version of the language known as “καθαρεύουσα” (Katharevousa), which was spoken as langue de prestige at universities, literary milieus, or at the churches, and used in official documents, and there was a colloquial Greek known as “Demotic”, used in everyday life, heard in the popular culture, and taught at primary schools. This diglossia had been a matter of political dispute since the creation of modern Greece in the 19th Century. In practice, it caused social discrimination, since social ascension was based on the knowledge of the Katharevousa. The colonels’ regime declared Katharevousa the only official language of Greece and even banned Demotic from schools beyond the three first years of primary education. The Karamanlis government, in contrast, turned this situation around and ordered that Demotic become the only official language of the Greek state from January 1976. Ousted from the official and legal documents, politics, schools and the media, the use of Katharevousa rapidly declined21.

  • 22 Martins, 1998.

22The trajectory of the configuration of each political community was thus peculiar. Portugal’s demos shifted from being comprised of a pluri-continental and diverse population with limited political rights and hierarchical differences of status, to that of a European society of equal citizens and a low degree of plurality22. While Greece kept stressing Hellenic assimilation, after the Cyprus fiasco the Greek state accepted that Hellenes could live in two independent political communities, something that, despite being a reality, had been rejected by the ultranationalism of the colonels. The Transition also reconfigured the cultural entrails of the nation by enhancing the status of the popular language. Spain’s demos, in turn, ceased to be defined in terms of cultural homogeneity. Instead, it moved towards an experimentation with dual national identifications and the promotion of regional languages, while the administration shifted from a centralist configuration towards a semi-federal one.

Expressions of collective will: demonstrations, elections, referenda

23Giving voice to the people, through political parties, elections, referenda, freedom of expression and other venues of participation, such as demonstrations and other mass events, is a key element of modern democracy. Mass social mobilisation played multiple roles in spurring and channelling political change in the three countries, but in quite dissimilar ways. In this respect, the Southern Transitions differed significantly from the Eastern Transitions of 1989, in which massive demonstrations became a common factor in prompting up political change.

  • 23 Kornetis, 2013, pp. 292-311.
  • 24 Iossifidis, 2020.
  • 25 For a diverging interpretation on this matter, see Papadogiannis and Ramos Pinto’s article in this (...)

24The origins of the Greek Transition are often traced back to the Athens Polytechnic Uprising of 1973. This was a massive student demonstration that turned into a civil uprising when students occupied the building of the Athens Polytechnic on 14 November 1973. Unrest had intensified earlier that year, when students from different universities staged strikes and demonstrations against the junta. The occupation of the Polytechnic attracted the support of thousands of people, who took to the streets of central Athens the following day. However, these protests were met with violence and repression, as the junta government sent troops and a tank crashed the gate of the Polytechnic. Repression killed officially 24 people and allegedly way more. The Athens Polytechnic Uprising represents a turning point in the history of the colonels’ regime. Nevertheless, it did not precipitate the fall of the dictatorship–the Cyprus military fiasco of July 1974 did. It became, however, the symbolic founding event of the Metapolitefsi, providing to some degree its social legitimation23. It still represents today a lieu de mémoire for Greek society24. In the short term, however, it did not result in any continuity in the means of mobilisation after the end of dictatorial rule, even if the demonstrators’ behaviour in the post-2009 crisis somehow re-enacted elements of the 1973 protests and reconnected with the protest culture and values linked to that founding event25.

25In the context of the Greek transition, mass mobilisation took mainly the form of mass rallies in support of political leaders, electoral campaign events, and post-electoral celebration. In this respect, the founding event, rather than the Athens Polytechnic Uprising, was the return from exile of Konstantinos Karamanlis, after being appointed Prime Minister in late July 1974. When he landed at Athens airport, on 24 July 1974, he was welcomed by thousands of people, who cheered his arrival in the streets of Athens or even welcomed him directly at the airport holding candles (a Christian symbol for Resurrection). The same pattern of acclamatory mass rallies was followed by the supporters of his main political opponent, the socialist leader Andreas Papandreou, since his first public appearances.

  • 26 Accornero, 2016.

26In Portugal, although several waves of contestation by students, workers, and opposition sympathisers strained the dictatorship, no mass event set the framework for the subsequent Carnation Revolution of 25 April 197426. The coup, however, also had a key popular dimension, as people massively acclaimed the soldiers in the streets of Lisbon. Mário Soares, the socialist exiled leader, staged a spectacular bain de foule comeback similar to Karamanlis’ in Greece. Contrary to what happened in Greece, the mass demonstration, as a political form of action, was to acquire an enhanced symbolic role following the rallies of May Day 1974, only six days after the coup. Gatherings and marches were staged in almost every city and town, with hundreds of thousands of Portuguese welcoming democracy and cheering the military. The symbolism of that day, moreover, linked the downfall of the dictatorship to the historical struggles of the socialist working class.

  • 27 Palacios Cerezales, 2016.

27During the convulsive two years that followed, mass demonstrations became instrumental in the quarrels among the factions that disputed power. In fact, popular mobilisation acquired a degree of power without parallel in the other two transitions. The popular counter-mobilisation against the so called “silent minority” demonstration of 28 September 1974 ousted general Spínola from the head of the State. Important decisions, such as the passing of the trade union legislation, which in January 1975 decreed that there could only be one trade union, were taken after the government weighed the volume of the demonstrations for and against the measure. Furthermore, the anti-communist mass demonstrations of the summer and autumn of 1975 became the forerunner of what 30 years later would be known as a “colour” revolution, that is, the repeated succession of demonstrations against an alleged attempt by the government to subvert electoral results, combined with the partial defection of the security forces or the army. The mobilisation began in June, and by September, it succeeded in ousting the radical Prime Minister, colonel Vasco Gonçalves. During the subsequent two very tense months, up until the coup of 25th November 1975, which put a break in the revolutionary cycle, mass demonstrations called by the radical factions of the Armed Forces Movement and its civilian allies challenged the government. To counter them, hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets across Portugal to display their support towards electoral democracy, empowering the government27.

  • 28 Radcliff, 2016.
  • 29 Portabella, 1976, min 35:37.

28Spain is the case that more closely prefigures that of the Eastern Transitions in 1989. Mass demonstrations calling for political change were a visible feature of the years of political transition28. Even prior to Franco’s death in November 1975, social mobilisation, in the form of student demonstrations, strikes or civil protest, had been apparent for years. Some weeks before Franco’s death, in early October 1975, the last executions of political prisoners by Franco’s regime not only provoked a wave of international unrest, but also motivated demonstrations in multiple Spanish cities, which were met with police repression. In the period from Franco’s death to the first democratic elections in June 1977, social mobilisation was fundamental in urging democratic reforms. According to trade union leader Marcelino Camacho, while Portugal had needed the intervention of the army to force democratisation, in Spain it was the “mass pressure” of the “labouring and democratic forces” which made it inevitable29.

  • 30 Ysàs, Molinero, 2018.
  • 31 Aguilar, 1997, p. 332.
  • 32 Nota Informativa confidencial del Servicio de Información de la Guardia Civil, Barcelona, 12 septi (...)

29The mass demonstrations demanding amnesty and regional self-government contributed to frame the horizon of expectations regarding the content of political change and made the original very limited reforms favoured by the francoist elite become obsolete30. Christian groups had gathered 150.000 signatures demanding amnesty by November 197431. After Franco’s death, there was a crescendo of public demonstrations demanding amnesty, which peaked in July 1976, coinciding with the first general amnesty law. In September that same year, a massively attended Diada (the “National” Day of Catalonia) in Barcelona clamoured for amnesty and autonomy, setting the tone for a string of similar demonstrations in many other provincial capitals. In most of the mass protests, the organisers aimed at self-policing, negotiating with the police the boundaries of their demonstrations32. The mass attendance combined displays of commitment and civility, thus framing a horizon of expectations which agreed with the possibility of peaceful reform.

30No doubt the poor planning of some policing operations, the harsh and provocative action of far-right police commanders, in tandem with the stress suffered by the police due to increased terrorist pressure, led to some dramatic repressive events. These included: the killing by the police of five young workers in the Basque city of Vitoria on 3 March 1976; the death of a protester in the 1978 San Fermín festival in Pamplona, of a student on 29 September when the police opened fire against a demonstration in Madrid, etc. These, however, did not lead either to the suppression of protest or to protest escalation, but accelerated the consensus on the need for police reform. In contrast, after the revolutionary stress of 1975, some police excesses in Portugal, like the killing of four demonstrators in Porto in January 1976, were accepted as the price needed in order to reinstate the State’s authority and curb the empowerment of demonstrators of the previous months.

31Demonstrations, thus, played different roles in each of the Transitions. One protest event had a huge symbolic role in Greece, but afterwards the role of demonstrations was mostly that of a popular display of support accompanying the electoral cycle. In Spain, demonstrations pushed forward the reform agenda, also embodying the potential for peaceful civil participation claimed by the opposition. In Portugal, demonstrations became embedded in the polarisation of the political situation and had a key role both in the radicalisation of the revolution and in the counter-mobilisation that empowered the moderates and ended the revolutionary period.


  • 33 Domper Lasús, 2020.
  • 34 Hermet, 1977.
  • 35 Bermeo, 1987, p. 13.

32The Greek, Portuguese, and Spanish dictatorships had held elections and plebiscites for legitimation purposes33. But in the three cases, these were “elections without a choice”34. As Nancy Bermeo puts it, “fair elections involve impartial administration, freedom from intimidation, honest ballot counting and reasonable media access”, conditions that did not happen in either dictatorship35. In contrast, the democratisation of the three countries heavily relied on the fairness of the vote. Free and fair elections emerged as a keystone of the legitimacy of the new institutions in all three cases. The first open competitive elections empowered an assembly with the mandate to write a constitution–or, in the case of Greece, to amend it–and to give form to future democratic governance. These elections, moreover, shaped the respective party systems. The similarities between the three cases are important, but it is in the differences that we may find telling insights regarding the nature of each Transition.

  • 36 Christopoulos, 2013.

33Portuguese, Greek, and Spanish women received the right to vote and be elected in the same conditions as men. Greek women had already held this right since 1952 and lost it along with men after the colonels’ putsch in 196736.

  • 37 Alivizatos, 1979.

34One of the differences between the three countries, however, were the limits that governments imposed on political participation. The electoral law in Spain allowed the involvement of parties from the entire political spectrum, including regional nationalists, far-left and far-right parties, even if some small republican parties did not get official recognition until 1978. The legalisation of the Spanish Communist Party (PCE) had a momentous significance as a gesture of reconciliation. No citizen, moreover, was barred from being a candidate due to his or her political past. In contrast, the Portuguese electoral legislation forbade regional parties and those with a “fascist ideology”, resulting in the banning of several parties of the far-right and the far-left in the months preceding the 1975 vote (MFP, PL, MRPP). It also made the former political elite of the dictatorship ineligible. In the case of Greece, the legalisation of the Greek Communist Party (KKE) put an end to decades of political clash and social strife. The KKE had been banned in 1936 by dictator Ioannis Metaxas. It then experienced a brief spell of legality after World War II, although it refused to participate in the 1946 elections and then became clandestine again during the Greek Civil War. Law 504, issued in 1948, paved the way for political prosecution and repression of communist activities for over 25 years. Anti-communist hysteria attained its peak during the colonels’ regime. Therefore, the legalisation of the KKE, ordered by Karamanlis soon after his appointment as Prime Minister, signified more than a political compromise: it was a sign of social reconciliation as the vanquished of the Civil War were invited to participate in the political system after decades of exclusion and diaspora. In legal terms, the Karamanlis’ government considered the constitution of 1968 null and void, but did not plan restrictions on the eligibility of candidates to the elections as long as they were not under arrest nor convicted37.

  • 38 Magalhães, 2017, pp. 226-230.

35Regional and local parties were not banned outright in Greece, but the institutional circumstances did not favour their success. While in Portugal the Revolution empowered local participation but prohibited regional identities, and in Spain the regional devolution favored regional parties, Greece maintained a high degree of administrative centralisation that limited both local and regional politics38. This diminished the opportunities for an ethnic minority to organise. As a result, and after decades of assimilation, ethnic and linguistic minorities did not acquire representation in the new Greek democratic system.

36The consequence of the vote was also different in the three countries. The results were similar in terms of the broad victory of centre-right and centre-left parties (and the poor showing of the communist parties). While in Spain and Greece this meant that the government in place was able to steer the workings of the constituent assembly–in Greece, the new constitution was even drafted by the government itself–, in Portugal the moderates’ win meant a defeat of the communist-backed provisional government and of the radical faction of the Armed Forces Movement. As already mentioned above, the electoral results, as a moment of truth regarding the political preferences of the Portuguese, kick-started an anti-communist mobilisation that, in four months, succeeded in dislodging Vasco Gonçalves, confirming that Portugal would become a multi-party democracy.


37In contrast to the similar role of free elections, there was a sharp divergence in the three cases in the use of the referendum. Spain sought the reinforcement of political change by the mobilisation of the population in two national and four regional referenda between 1976 and 1980. Greece organised only one referendum, devoted to the choice between monarchy and republic, a question that was kept out of the political agenda both in monarchist Spain and republican Portugal. The Portuguese leadership, in turn, discussed the possibility of submitting the constitution to the popular vote, but finally discarded it. The contrasting approach to the role of referenda in constitution-making was magnified in the provisions regarding constitutional reform. While Spain made it mandatory to hold referenda on major constitutional reforms, Portugal made it illegal (artº 115).

  • 39 Fernandes, 2017, p. 35.
  • 40 Palacios Cerezales, 2016.
  • 41 Gómez Fortes, 2003.
  • 42 Pereira, 2017.
  • 43 Bermeo, 2010, p. 1133.

38The differences between the three cases reveal the contrast regarding the political game at play in each transition. In Portugal, some analysts accept that the discarding of the popular ratification of the constitution was due to the echo of the 1933 plebiscite organised by Salazar39. This argument, however, rehearses points made by those who opposed a referendum in 1975 and 1976 that seem more rhetorical than substantive. The proponents of a referendum belonged to the centre and right PPD and CDS, critical of the socialist leanings of the constitution and with military tutelage, and who also believed that most of the population disagreed with the Marxist tone of the constitution. Besides, the anti-communist mobilisation of the summer of 1975 had empowered the right, projecting the fear of a muscular campaign against the ratification of the text40. A referendum campaign, thus, threatened to turn the constitution into a partisan document and blemish its national character. The rejection of the referendum eased the management of political conflict41. The claim that such a rejection aimed to break with the plebiscites of the dictatorship, moreover, does not survive comparative scrutiny with Spain and Greece, which had had their fair share of rigged plebiscites42. Furthermore, the same argument could have been used to delegitimise elections. Contrariwise, according to Nancy Bermeo43, the rigged nature of past votes under Salazar and Caetano enhanced the normative expectation of a fair election.

  • 44 Gómez Fortes, 2003.

39In exchange for renouncing the referendum, some Portuguese critics were brought back to the constitutional consensus by the agreement on the temporal nature of military tutelage and on the scheduling of a constitutional reform in five-years’ time. Notwithstanding, in the following years, Sá Carneiro, the leader of the PSD, and other mainstream voices from the right, toyed with the idea of an extra-constitutional referendum to accelerate reform44.

40In contrast, the democratisation of Spain relied heavily on referenda. The 1976 referendum to endorse political reform was widely promoted by the government. Slogans such as “if you want democracy, vote” and “people, speak”, in tandem with the broadcasting of pop songs and the utilisation of regional languages projected the idea of a new and enticing beginning. Two years later, participation in the 1978 referendum on the constitution was considered key to the endorsement of political reform. The government arranged an extra-long campaign in order to maximise participation. The main parties eagerly advocated an affirmative vote, including PSOE and PCE, which had promoted abstention during the 1976 referendum. Of the major parties, only the rightist AP was divided and did not campaign for the constitution. Then, four regional referenda held between 1979 and 1981 enshrined the powers of the new regional parliaments and governments of the Basque Country, Catalonia, Andalusia, and Galicia. Democratisation was thus reinforced by the isolation between party competition, which happened in elections, and consensual institution-building, done via the referenda. This empowered civil society, which drove a successful pro-referendum campaign regarding the participation of Spain in NATO in 1986.

  • 45 Tridimas, 2009.

41In Greece, the December 1974 referendum between monarchy and republic was the sixth in the 20th century in which the population voted on the form of the State. The colonels had staged two referenda, one in 1968 to vote on a new constitution, and another one in July 1973. The December 1974 referendum was, in a way, a democratic repetition of the one held in July 1973, as in both cases the question at stake was the same: whether Greece should be a republic (which it was de facto since December 1967) or a monarchy. The December 1974 referendum was, however, the first one in the 20th century whose results could unambiguously be considered true and fair. The election of the assembly was held on 17 November 1974 and the referendum on 8 December. Once the deputies began meeting by mid-December, therefore, they already knew that the electorate had instructed them to design a democratic republic45. The Greek referendum had critical constitutional implications, but the political elite managed to insulate the campaign from the general goal of democratising the regime. The terms of the referendum made clear that Greece would become a democracy either crowned, or uncrowned. Prime Minister Karamanlis committed neither the government nor his party to either option.

42The three countries’ different relationship with referenda during their democratisations highlights the role of political elites in reading the situation and managing consensus. Rigging the vote was out of the question in the three cases. President Adolfo Suárez in Spain put the popular vote at the centre of democratisation, convinced that mobilising the citizenry for controlled political change would outmanoeuvre the militant minorities opposing change or fighting for further rupture. It also served to insulate decisions regarding institution-building from party competition. The latter was also the case in Greece, even if the government remained neutral there and did not favour either outcome. The referendum resolved a divisive issue by isolating it from the partisan competition. In contrast, in Portugal, the polarisation regarding the socialist aspects of the constitution itself made the constituents protect the text from a would-be divisive campaign, in exchange for letting future electoral majorities decide on any amendments.

Police and security forces

43The transformation of the muscle of the state itself, that is, of the policing apparatus that embodied the state’s monopolisation of force, was also at the heart of the democratisation agendas of the three countries. Repression of political dissent and of the labour movement, but also of social practices catalogued as deviant, had been salient aspects of the policing activities of the three dictatorships. Moreover, opposition forces and international human rights observers highlighted police harshness, forceful breaking of demonstrations, torture, and death in custody in the three countries as marks of the repressive, cruel, and illegitimate nature of the regimes. At the same time, during regime change, controlling the situation was key for steering the political process. In the face of the challenges from social conflicts and alternative and radical movements of different stripes, control implied counting on the police.

  • 46 Sotiropoulos, 2010.

44During the first stages of their transitions, the Portuguese and the Greek governments dissolved the police units most identified with political and social repression. In Portugal, the infamous plain-clothed political police (DGS/PIDE) was dissolved and its members put under preventive detention. In turn, the security police’s riot units were disbanded, and their men attached to ordinary police service. In Greece, the focus fell on the Military Police (ESA). This force, formed under the influence of U.S. anti-communist aid in the 1950s, had been the vanguard of “anti-subversive” policing. By the times of the colonels’ dictatorship, the ESA had evolved into a 20,000 men-strong para-military force, which acted as a security army. The last dictator of Greece, brigadier Dimitrios Ioannidis, was indeed the chief of the ESA at the moment of his seizure of power in 1973. As a result, Karamanlis’ first government disbanded ESA, some of whose members were even put on trial in 1974-75 for torture. Most of them, however, received only short prison terms46.

  • 47 Durán Muñoz, 2000.
  • 48 Palacios Cerezales, 2007.

45In the case of Portugal, the de-legitimation of repression in general and the disbandment of the riot police encouraged all sorts of grassroots movements to adopt direct action. Shanty town dwellers, landless peasants and workers occupied empty housing, landed estates and factories, without the fear of police intervention. The armed forces, in the meanwhile, after the joyous welcoming of the coup, were undergoing a transformation and were unable to bear the reputational cost of becoming a repressive force. These developments allow us to speak of a “state crisis” in Portugal47. The situation began to change under the sixth provisional government, which reorganised the anti-riot police units and, after some heavy-handed interventions, managed to reinstate a working police deterrence48.

  • 49 Veremis, 1997, pp. 170-182.

46In Greece, the events in the Athens Polytechnic of 14-17 November 1973, the repression of which caused at least 24 dead and more than a thousand wounded, highlighted that neither the police nor the army were fit to deal with unarmed but determined protestors49. The high impact of the repression on the reputation of both the Army and the Police led to the hurried development of modern style anti-riot police units (MAT), which became operative under Karamanlis’ government. This allowed the latter to count on a well-trained non-lethal riot police in the subsequent transition years.

  • 50 Douvlis, South, 2016.

47Despite the differences, both in Portugal and in Greece the transitional governments focused on isolating the blame for the dictatorship’s repression on the most salient forces and relied on the uniformed forces inherited from the dictatorship, reinforced by new or renewed riot squads trained in the deployment of non-lethal force. In Portugal, the radical military had planned reform of the police in 1975, such as the merging of the urban police and the rural gendarmerie, but these came to nothing once the radicals were ousted. Major structural changes in the inherited police forces would only come later: 1984 in Greece and 1995 in Portugal50.

48The Spanish case was different. No sector of the police apparatus was purged or blamed because of their repressive role during the dictatorship. However, the 1977 Moncloa Agreements, antedating the constitution, included clauses regarding police reform that were met in the 1978 Police Law. The Policía Armada (Armed Police) was partially demilitarised and renamed “National Police”, the uniform changed from grey to brown, its command structure was rendered independent from the military regional governments, and a new school for police officers opened, thus projecting a future end to the recruitment of military officers for the command of the police. The Guardia Civil (Civil Guard), while retaining its gendarmerie-style military traits, was put under the direct command of the provincial civil governors, and relegated to policing roads and rural towns of under 10,000 inhabitants.

  • 51 Palacios Cerezales, 2011.

49To the extent that the State is represented by the uniforms of the police, by 1980 the new police landscape of Spain already made democratisation visible. The Police Law, in agreement with the soon-to-be-promulgated constitution, moreover, granted the right to develop their own police to regional governments and municipal councils. Token ceremonial forces accompanied the setting up of the Basque and the Catalan regional governments, but in time these developed into full capable forces and displaced the National Police and the Civil Guard in patrolling the streets and the countryside, fighting crime and controlling social and political conflict within these regions’ limits. It is worth stressing that the policing reforms resulted from the convergence between the reform agenda of some leading politicians and the mobilisation of important sectors of the police itself. Strong clandestine police unions demanded professionalisation and rights, and rejected the stressful conditions under which policing had been occurring in the Basque Country. A new round of police reform arrived in 1986, eliminating the vestiges of militarism within the police, consolidating the devolution of police powers to the Basque and Catalan governments, and extending the right to unionise to policemen of all ranks51.

  • 52 Douvlis, South, 2016.

50Demilitarisation was at the heart of police reform in Spain and there was a clear intent in reinforcing police capabilities to avoid the need to use the army for crowd control. As in Greece, expanded police were key in keeping the army apart from the maintenance of internal order. Further policing change in Greece came about after the victory of PASOK. Karamanlis had been satisfied with the conservative outlook of the police. Yet, Papandreou’s government, with “change” as its motto, proposed in 1984 a new force unifying the gendarmerie and the urban police. The new Hellenic Police was meant to display a democratic identity, wore simple uniforms and was hailed as “citizens and servants of the public”. Greece was thus the only of the three countries that shifted from the Napoleonic dual patrol policing structure–a gendarmerie for the countryside and an urban police force–to a unified national force52.

51In Portugal, the role of the military in bringing about democracy made demilitarisation less urgent. In addition, the policing collapse of the revolutionary years diluted the desire to experiment with police change. After the dismantling of the political police, the reform of the remaining policing apparatus was slower and of less import than in Spain and Greece. The Portuguese police was supplemented with military deployment in large policing operations, such as the eviction of farmers’ cooperatives from occupied estates in 1978. The demilitarization of the command structure of the urban police and the professionalisation of its own officer corps only happened in 1995, well beyond the transition and consolidation periods.

52The contrast in the rhythms and themes of the transformation of the police in the three cases highlight more general differences in the three countries’ transitions. The disbandment and punishment of the most salient repressive forces dominated the Portuguese and Greek agenda, while Spain opted instead for reforming the whole policing apparatus. The urge to demilitarise was outstanding in Spain and Greece, but not in Portugal. At the same time, while Portugal retained its policing structure and Greece further centralised its national police, reinforcing the traditional role of the police as a tool for nationalising the landscape, Spain proceeded to include policing in the regional devolution mix.


53Greece, Portugal, and Spain were fully recognised democracies by the mid-1980s. This “equifinality” of the political transformation, as Schmitter highlighted, was compatible with a wide variety of patterns of change. In this article, we have compared three dimensions central to democracy. The first is the configuration of the political community through the redefinition of the contours and contents of the nation, including the boundaries of the political parties allowed to take part in democratic competition. The second is the means deployed to express and channel the political preferences of the population, including elections, referenda, and demonstrations. The third dimension is the transformation of the policing apparatus, both as an expression of the administrative configuration of the nation and as a key component of the safeguarding of the rights of the citizenry.

  • 53 Agüero, 1995; Ysàs, Molinero, 2018.
  • 54 Fishman, 2019.

54In the cases of Greece and Portugal, the outgoing regime élites had very limited power over the process. A new civilian élite replaced the colonels in Greece and a military-led coalition in Portugal did the same with the dictatorship’s political élite. In Spain, in contrast, the outgoing élites held significant power, but it was limited by transactions with the opposition and the social and political mobilisation that supported them53. At the same time, the contrast serves as a point of departure to evaluate claims that identify direct links between the modes of transition, the extent of the changes implemented during the Transition, and the effects of the modes of transition on the quality of the future democracy54.

55Ruptures in the historical trajectory were paramount in the three countries, well beyond democratisation itself. In the Portuguese case, the Transition meant the end of five centuries of imperial projection. In Greece, the result was territorial consolidation, redefinition of the national language, and the watering down of irredentism. In Spain, the Transition marked the reversion of two centuries of centralisation.

56The Greek and Spanish Transitions shared a sense of national reconciliation after decades of political and social confrontation, dramatically epitomized by their respective civil wars. In both cases, the legalisation of the Communist Party was a signal event that symbolised the end of civil confrontation. The Portuguese and Greek democracies were conceived as neat breaks with the previous regimes, including the pre-1967 parliamentary monarchy in the Greek case. The leaders of the previous dictatorships were banned from public life or prosecuted, and in the Greek case were condemned to heavy prison sentences. In the Spanish case, the monarchical legacy devised by Franco and the absence of transitional justice fuelled an image of continuity between dictatorship and democracy which is well alive in the current political debate. However, the image of continuity does not survive comparison with the Greek or the Portuguese cases, as the Spanish case probably witnessed the fastest transformation in terms of the institutions that channel internal political life: a decentralised state with devolved parliaments and regional governments that introduced new dynamics of political competition, the adoption of co-official languages, a new structure of its security forces, and new national narratives.

57For all three countries, the transition to democracy brought about a new sense of national identity. The political turn in the mid-1970s would ever since correspond to the foundation of a democratic identity that recast the national discourses from an aggressive external projection through imperialism, irredentism, or anti-communism, to a conciliatory stance based on a domestic assimilation of citizen rights combined with European integration.

58Elections, referenda, demonstrations, and police reform played out differently in each country. The closer we look, the more different the three Southern European cases seem, despite the family resemblance they still share if we compare them with a larger set of transitions to democracy. The diverse mixes of change and continuity somehow worked. The three countries successfully became multi-party democracies, each one plagued with its own problems of democratic quality. At the same time, while different potential futures were at play during the transitions–authoritarian comebacks, long-lasting state crisis, social revolution, illiberal democracy–the equifinality of the processes leads us to suggest that there was no single template or one possible winning recipe. Not every open path would have resulted in democracy, but democracy was the possible outcome of many different sets of collective and individual choices.

Haut de page


Aarbakke, Vemund (2000), “The Muslim Minority of Greek Thrace”, Ph.D. thesis, University of Bergen.

Accornero, Guya (2016), The Revolution Before the Revolution, New York, Berghahn.

Agüero, Felipe (1995), “Democratic consolidation and the military in Southern Europe and South America”, in Richard Gunther, P. Nikiforos Diamandouros, Hans-Jürgen Puhle (eds), The Politics of Democratic Consolidation, Baltimore, Johns Hopkins University Press, pp. 124-165.

Aguilar, Paloma (1997), “La amnesia y la memoria: las movilizaciones por la amnistía en la transición a la democracia”, in Rafael Cruz Martínez and Manuel Pérez Ledesma (eds) Cultura y movilización en la España contemporánea, Madrid, Alianza, pp. 327-357.

Alivizatos, Nicos A. (1979), Les institutions politiques de la Grèce à travers les crises 1922-1974, Paris, Librairie générale de droit et de jurisprudence.

Álvarez Junco, José (2016), Dioses útiles. Naciones y nacionalismos, Barcelona, Galaxia Gutenberg.

Beaton, Roderick (2020), Greece. Biography of a Modern Nation, London, Penguin.

Bermeo, Nancy (1987), “Redemocratization and Transition Elections: A Comparison of Spain and Portugal”, Comparative Politics, 19, pp. 213-231.

Bermeo, Nancy (2010), “Interests, Inequality, and Illusion in the Choice for Fair Elections”, Comparative Political Studies, 43 (8-9), pp. 1119-1147.

Chilcote, Ronald H. (2010), The Portuguese Revolution. State and Class in the Transition to Democracy, Lanham, Rowman & Littlefield.

Christopoulos, Dimitris (2013), Access to Electoral Rights: Greece, Florence, European University Institute, RSCAS/EUDO-CIT-ER 2013/16.

Clogg, Richard (1987), Parties and Elections in Greece. The Search for Legitimacy, Durham, NC, Duke University Press.

Danopoulos, Constantinos (1985), “From Balconies to Tanks. Post-Junta Civil-Military Relations in Greece”, Journal of Political and Military Sociology, 13, pp. 83-98.

Domper Lasús, Carlos (2020), Dictatorship and the Electoral Vote: Francoism and the Portuguese New State Regime in Comparative Perspective, 1945-1975, Eastbourne, Sussex Academic Press.

Doulis, Thomas (2013), The Iron Storm. The Impact on Greek Culture of the Military Junta, 1967-1974, Bloomington, Xlibris.

Douvlis, Konstantinos, & Nigel South (2016), “Police Reform and Social Change in Greece: the Development and Merger of the Gendarmerie and Urban Police Forces”, Revija za kriminalistiko in kriminologijoç, 4, pp. 289-299.

Durán Muñoz, Rafael (2000), Contención y transgresión. Las movilizaciones sociales y el Estado en las transiciones española y portuguesa, Madrid, Centro de Estudios Políticos y Constitucionales.

Encarnación, Omar G. (2001), “Civil Society and the Consolidation of Democracy in Spain”, Political Science Quarterly, 116/1, pp. 53-79.

Fernandes, Tiago [ed.] (2017), Variedades de Democrácia na Europa do Sul. Una Comparação entre Espanha, França, Grécia, Itália e Portugal, Lisbon, ICS.

Fishman, Robert (1990), “Review: Rethinking State and Regime: Southern Europe’s Transition to Democracy”, World Politics, 42 (3), pp. 422-440.

Fishman, Robert (2019), Democratic practice: origins of the Iberian divide in political inclusion, Oxford, Oxford University Press.

Giner, Salvador (1982), “Economía política y legitimación cultural en los orígenes de la democracia parlamentaria: el caso de la Europa del Sur”, in Julián Santamaría (ed.), Transición a la democracia en el Sur de Europa y America Latina, Madrid, Centro de Investigaciones Sociológicas.

Gómez Fortes, Braulio (2003), “La constitución contorsionista de Portugal”, in António Barreto, Braulio Gómez Fortes, Pedro Magalhães, (ed.), Portugal. Democracia y Sistema Político, Madrid, Siglo xxi, pp. 47-82.

Hermet, Guy (1977), “Les élections sans choix”, Revue française de science politique, 27, pp. 30-33.

Huntington, Samuel P. (1968), Political Order in Changing Societies, New Haven, CT, Yale University Press.

Huntington, Samuel P. (1991), The Third Wave. Democratization in the Late Twentieth Century, Norman, OK, University of Oklahoma Press.

Iossifidis, Mirande Jeanne Marie (2020), “Spaces of transmission. Storytelling and remembrance of the 1973 Athens Polytechnic Uprising”, City, Culture and Society, 22, pp. 1-11.

Karakatsani, Neovi (1997), “Do Attitudes Matter? The Military and Democratic Consolidation in Greece”, Armed Forces and Society, 24/2, pp. 289-314.

Kornetis, Kostis (2013), Children of the Dictatorship. Student Resistance, Cultural Politics, and the “Long 1960s” in Greece, New York and Oxford, Berghahn.

Lijphart, Arendt, (1990), “The Southern European Examples of Democratization: Six Lessons for Latin America”, Government and Opposition, 25 (1), pp. 68-84.

Linz, Juan José, & Alfred Stepan [coords.] (1996), Problems of Democratic Transition and Consolidation Southern Europe, South America, and Post-Communist Europe, Baltimore, Johns Hopskin University Press.

Magalhães, Pedro (2017), “Legado partilhado, ruturas divergentes: a democracia subnacional”, in Tiago Fernandes (ed.), Variedades de Democracia na Europa do Sul 1968-2016, Lisbon, ICS, pp. 225-254.

Martins, Hermínio (1998), Classe, Status e Poder, Lisboa, ICS.

Mendes, Jose Manuel (2001), Do ressentimento ao reconhecimento. Vozes, identidades e processos políticos nos Açores, doctoral thesis, University of Coimbra.

Neves, José (2008), Comunismo e Nacionalismo em Portugal. Política, Cultura e História no Século xx, Lisboa, Tinta da China.

O’Donnell, Guillermo, & Philippe C. Schmitter, [ed.] (1990), Transitions from Authoritarian Rule. Tentative Conclusions about Uncertain Democracies, Johns Hopkins University Press.

Palacios Cerezales, Diego (2007), “Fascist lackeys? Dealing with the police’s past during Portugal’s transition to democracy (1974-1980)”, Portuguese Journal of Social Science, 6, 3, pp. 155-169.

Palacios Cerezales, Diego (2011), “Repressive Legacies and the Democratisation of Iberian Police Systems”, in Leonardo Morlino & Antonio Costa Pinto (eds), Dealing with the Legacy of Authoritarianism, London, Routlegde, pp. 89-108.

Palacios Cerezales, Diego (2016), “Civil Resistance and Democracy in the Portuguese Revolution”, Journal of Contemporary History, pp. 1-22.

Patrikiou, Alexandra (2017), “On the Historiography of the Language Question in Post-1974 Greece”, Historein, 16 (1-2), pp. 102-119.

Pereira, José Santana, & Tiago Tibúrcio (2017), “Democracia direta: padrões de diversidade intrarregional”, in Tiago Fernandes (ed.), Variedades de Democracia na Europa do Sul 1968-2016, Lisbon, ICS, pp. 165-194.

Portabella, Pere (1976), Informe General, documentary film, Spain, Films 59.

Poulantzas, Nicos (1975), La crise des dictatures. Portugal Grèce Espagne, Paris, P.U.F., coll. «Politiques».

Pridham, G. (1984), “Comparative perspectives on the new Mediterranean democracies: A model of regime transition?”, West European Politics, 7 (2), pp. 1-29.

Pridham, Geoffrey, & Tatu Vanhanen (1994), Democratization in Eastern Europe, London, Routledge.

Radcliff, Pamela (2016), “Social Movements, Democratic Transition, and Citizenship: Spain in the 1970s”, in Inbal Ofer and Tamar Groves (ed.), Performing Citizenship: Social Movements Across the Globe, New York, Routledge, pp. 10-29.

Sánchez Cervelló, Josep, (1993), A revolução portuguesa e a sua influência na transição espanhola, Lisboa, Assírio e Alvim.

Schmitter, Phillip. C. (1999), “The democratisation of Portugal in its comparative perspective”, in Fernando Rosas (ed.), Portugal e a Transição para a Democracia (1974-1976), Lisboa, Colibrí, pp. 337-364.

Sotiropoulos, Dimitri A. (2010), “The Authoritarian Past and Contemporary Greek Democracy”, South European Society and Politics, 15, 3, pp. 449-465.

Tilly, Charles (1983), “Speaking Your Mind without Elections, Surveys, or Social-Movements”, Public Opinion Quarterly, 47, pp. 461-478.

Tridimas, George (2009), “Referendum and the choice between monarchy and republic in Greece”, Constitutional Political Economy, 21, 2, pp. 119-144.

Tsitselikis, Konstantinos (2019), “Muslims of Greece: A Legal Paradox and a Political Failure”, in Norbert Oberauer, Yvonne Prief and Ulrike Qubaja (ed.), Legal Pluralism in Muslim Contexts, Leiden and Boston, Brill, pp. 63-83.

Tziovas, Dimitris (2021), Greece from Junta to Crisis: Modernisation, Transition and Diversity, London and New York, I.B. Taurus.

Veremis, Thanos (1997), The Military in Greek Politics. From Independence to Democracy, London, Black Rose Books, 1997.

Wiarda, Howard J. (2002), “Southern Europe, Eastern Europe, and Comparative Politics: Transitology and the Need for New Theory”, World Affairs, 16 (4), pp. 485-501.

Ysàs, Pere, & Carme Molinero (2018), La Transición. Historia y relatos, Madrid, Siglo XXI.

Haut de page


1 Poulantzas, 1975.

2 Pridham, 1984.

3 Giner, 1982.

4 Fishman, 1990, O’Donnell, 1990.

5 Lijphart, 1990, p. 68.

6 Pridham, Vanhanen, 1994, p. 23.

7 Wiarda, 2002, p. 6.

8 Huntington, 1991, p. 278.

9 Schmitter, 1999, p. 337.

10 Sánchez Cervelló, 1993.

11 Chilcote, 1990, p. 195.

12 Chilcote, p. 197.

13 Chilcote, p. 205.

14 Linz, Stepan, 1996, pp. 137-141.

15 Linz, Stepan, 1996, p.16.

16 Tilly, 1983.

17 Huntington, 1968.

18 Mendes, 2001.

19 Aarbakke, 2000; Tsitselikis, 2019.

20 Beaton, 2020; Aarbakke, 2000.

21 Patrikiou, 2017; Tziovas, 2021, pp. 125-142.

22 Martins, 1998.

23 Kornetis, 2013, pp. 292-311.

24 Iossifidis, 2020.

25 For a diverging interpretation on this matter, see Papadogiannis and Ramos Pinto’s article in this volume.

26 Accornero, 2016.

27 Palacios Cerezales, 2016.

28 Radcliff, 2016.

29 Portabella, 1976, min 35:37.

30 Ysàs, Molinero, 2018.

31 Aguilar, 1997, p. 332.

32 Nota Informativa confidencial del Servicio de Información de la Guardia Civil, Barcelona, 12 septiembre 1976. Reproducido en La Vanguardia, 11 de septiembre de 2019.

33 Domper Lasús, 2020.

34 Hermet, 1977.

35 Bermeo, 1987, p. 13.

36 Christopoulos, 2013.

37 Alivizatos, 1979.

38 Magalhães, 2017, pp. 226-230.

39 Fernandes, 2017, p. 35.

40 Palacios Cerezales, 2016.

41 Gómez Fortes, 2003.

42 Pereira, 2017.

43 Bermeo, 2010, p. 1133.

44 Gómez Fortes, 2003.

45 Tridimas, 2009.

46 Sotiropoulos, 2010.

47 Durán Muñoz, 2000.

48 Palacios Cerezales, 2007.

49 Veremis, 1997, pp. 170-182.

50 Douvlis, South, 2016.

51 Palacios Cerezales, 2011.

52 Douvlis, South, 2016.

53 Agüero, 1995; Ysàs, Molinero, 2018.

54 Fishman, 2019.

Haut de page

Pour citer cet article

Référence électronique

Diego Palacios Cerezales et Víctor Fernández Soriano, « Close, yet different. The Southern European transitions of the 1970s revisited »Mélanges de la Casa de Velázquez [En ligne], 53-1 | 2023, mis en ligne le 14 avril 2023, consulté le 06 juin 2023. URL : ; DOI :

Haut de page


Diego Palacios Cerezales

Universidad Complutense de Madrid

Víctor Fernández Soriano

Université Libre de Bruxelles

Haut de page

Droits d’auteur


Creative Commons - Attribution - Pas d'Utilisation Commerciale - Pas de Modification 4.0 International - CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

Haut de page
  • Logo Casa de Velázquez
  • DOAJ - Directory of Open Access Journals
  • OpenEdition Journals
Rechercher dans OpenEdition Search

Vous allez être redirigé vers OpenEdition Search