Jungastian Transition to Democracy

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Prior to the takeover by the Frente de Salvação Nacional (FSN) in 1921, and the resulting Ditadura da Renovação, Jungastia had a significant, if brief experience with democracy, the opening of suffrage to all citizens over the age of 21 under the First Jungastian Republic of 1895-1907 and the Chaotic Second Jungastian Republic from 1907-1921. The Second Republic’s institutions were poorly managed and poorly functioning - even more so than the First and frequently led to collapses of governments, indeed in the fourteen years of the Republic no less than eighteen governments fell, prior to José Ferreira Coutinho and the FSN gaining the premiership in 1920.

The Frente de Salvação Nacional Era

The chaotic years of the Second Republic were replaced with the Declaration of 23 Abril in 1921, following a year of consolidation by the FSN who had in the elections of 1920 become the largest party in the fractured Congress. Whilst not having a majority, the front found allies in the Partido Popular and the Catholic Party. The FSN promised order, a return to tradition from the modernity of the Republic, and strict discipline.

The election of José Ferreira Coutinho as Prime Minister by the Congress on 12 December 1920 started a chain of events that would lead to the suspension of the republican constitution and the abolition of the congress some 5 months later. Coutinho swiftly and via a President - Marcelo Pisani da Silva - who was largely sympathetic to the ideals of the FSN, consolidated power in his hands, and that of the cabinet.

The Declaration was the culmination of the concentration of power by Coutinho and his party, and their easy time in finding support from the heads of the armed forces. It replaced the democratic republic with a nominally corporatist and highly Authoritartian dictatorship, with Coutinho as titular Prime Minister, and a reinstatement of the monarchy, albeit in a rump form, with the Constitution of 1922 placing the monarch as a figure head with no power leaving Coutinho a dictator in all but name.

The formidable secret police were used to maintain order, and whilst the constitution contained a prohibition on capital punishment, summary execution, torture and exile were used on a widespread basis. The government banned all political parties and trade unions, save for the FSN, which was transformed in to an all pervasive organisation involved in everything from high politics, to community days out and events.

The regime in the early years saw a revitilsation of the Jungastian economy, and a large change in living standards for those in rural areas, tied in with the mass mechanisation of society. The FSN enforced a high degree of social traditionalism in almost all aspects of society, playing on the historical figures and events, but borrowed highly from classical Fascist theory with its frequent and impassioned fetishisation of technological advancements and mechanical progress. In latter years, economic stagnation began to creep in, as the regime stagnated from 1970 as the focus shifted from economic growth to the maintenance of the political system.

Coutinho's Death and the late 1970s

In 1978 at the age of 80, José Ferreira Coutinho died of a massive stroke. Having been unwell for some time following his first stroke in 1974, the regime had been engaged in a bitter internal power struggle since at least 1975. The Partido Popular, having maintained its existence by joining in the FSN, fought to open up the regime, not to full democracy, but to a less controlling. The hardline FSN faction sought to increase the party's control over the every day running of the country.

It is hard to gather contemporary public opinion, as the regime tightly controlled the media, and published statistics while assumed to be reasonably reliable, could not be guaranteed to be so, but the vast majority of those both in Metropolitan Jungastia and in the Overseas Provinces were worried of a return to what the regime referred to as the chaos of the Republic. Indeed the threats of chaos, were a significant factor in the regime maintaining its power.

Throughout the mid-1970s the power struggles saw a major purging of the leadership of the FSN and the government. Coutinho was quoted in Edu Soares's 2001 Biography as having been exceptionally negative of the regime's outlook should he die. Even with this purported negativity Coutinho made significant efforts to fill the new government with ardent loyalists, and to prepare a successor. His preparation helped to quell the power struggles somewhat, if not least by driving them underground. Purged former longstanding members of the government were known to have publicly switched sides to the now empowered opposition. This, along with leaked reports of Coutinho's ever decreasing health substantially weakened the government, and on Coutinho's death in 1978, the one figure working to unite the factions vanished overnight.

Outwardly of course, the regime applied significant energy to putting on a front of stable, continual power alongside a reverence to the former dictator. The state funeral was claimed to have been attended by over a million mourners along the route, and at it Coutinho's appointed successor, Cézar Leitão Tavares, spoke as Prime Minister for the first time. Tavares, a relatively unknown member of the FSN, but an ardent loyalist to Coutinho was ill-equipped to handle the infighting within the Front, but was an excellent orator. Arguably his speech at his predecessor's funeral, stabilised the regime to the public at least in the short term.

In the following moths the hole left by Coutinho's death grew, with the infighting stabilising at a level not seen since the days of the Republic. The government during this period was so focussed on maintaining its grip on power that outside of the big cities, with an absence of effective leadership at a provincial and national level, the population began to experience an openness unknown to many. Even in big cities, the regime's control began to be executed more through fear than through loyalty. It was in these pockets of relative openness that the opposition began to group in ways they had been unable to do before.

Clandestine Democracy

With government control easing in outlying areas, and almost totally easing in Overseas Provinces by 1979, the opposition began to function as a clandestine secondary government in many areas. The Colonial governors in the provinces of Albaterra and Lagoria increased their calls for independence without fear of widespread reprisals. The overall governor for the Avalonian Colonies had swiftly joined the opposition following Coutinho's death.

In Metropolitan Jungastia the oppositions clandestine government began to recruit sympathetic members of the military, the police, and even members of the secret police. At this point the focus shifted from exercising functional control over areas to planning the downfall of the regime. Unlike other revolutions, the opposition groups, both on the left and right of the political spectrum were largely united in their desire for open free democracy. Only the Revolutionary Communist Party, and smaller splinter groups refused to join in the coalition.

By 1980/81, the opposition had gone from a clandestine group meeting in secret, to an open organisation, actively rallying against the regime. For all his brilliance as an orator, Tavares was losing the grip on power he had taken for granted, the Police in many areas weren't enforcing the regime's laws, and the active repression of the protesters was limited to the big cities, and the northern coastal region, where the regime could count on its supporters' loyalty and the devotion of the security apparatus to crack down on those who dared to stand up against the regime.

A Revolução dos Mártires

A Regime in Crisis

With the regime's power rapidly deteriorating across the country, the opposition - now including Berber tribal leaders - began to gesture more openly against the regime, and its now beleaguered leader Tavares. In response Tavares and the core of the FSN signed the Declaração do 6º authorising the security forces to take a much harder line on those protesting. The government shipped loyal military units to areas under opposition control and the opposition began preparing for what could be a bloody crackdown. Tavares hoped to split the opposition between those who wanted to actively fight and those who preferred non-violent means. Indeed the split was very real. Future Premier Carlos Modesto Fernandes Barreto who at this time served as the leader of the broad opposition coalition was vehemently opposed to armed conflict.

As the government crackdown become more intense in the early months of 1982, with accounts of extreme torture, disappearances and significant human rights violations on a scale not seen during the entire course of the dictatorship, even residents in loyalist areas began to question their loyalty to Tavares. Within the FSN Tavares was developing a reputation, one of a cruel tyrant, diametrically opposed to the ideals of order, reason and logic that formed the core of the party's belief system.

Within the military and security apparatuses discontent was growing.

20th July 1982

By late July 1982, the government had managed to increase its areas of control, and avoid widespread arming of the opposition group. Protest in cities were less intense and less frequent. That was until a co-ordinated action in the Terreiro do Parliamento saw hundreds of students demonstrate on the steps of the new parliament building. While many expected the government to arrest those who participated, Tavares decided to ultimately seal his own fate and gave the order for the secret police and army to open fire on the protesters.

Seventeen protesters were killed. Amílcar Lúcio Antunes a sixteen year old student from Brezeira was the first casualty. Images of his body lying on the steps began circulating around the country and the globe. Across the country, loyalists began deserting the regime, and the government looked increasingly fragile.

In the opposition group, the long planned for day had come, to put the plan for a revolution in motion. Splinter groups within the military had began to make underground contact with the opposition, and had pledged loyalty to their plans. The Director of RPJ had joined the opposition secretly in 1980, giving the coup planners significant advantage with the media planning to broadcast sympathetic coverage.

The Revolution

The plan had been put into action, and at 6am on 28th July 1982, residents in Santo André were woken with tanks rolling towards the New Parliament buildings. The signal from those in command of the revolution was the broken playing of National Anthem at the end of the early morning news on national radio. Those sympathetic in the army began taken control of key control points around the country.

By 10am, tanks loyal to the revolutionaries were positioned across the capital, in major ports, and most importantly at airports across the nation. The Parliament, Prime ministers office, and government ministries were surrounded by the revolutionaries. The stand-off lasted until 2pm. Throughout the day, FSN members declared their loyalties, the vast majority - seeing the writing on the wall - declared their loyalty to the newly declared government.

RPJ covered the events, and explored citizens to remain indoors, and stay in places safety. These calls went unheeded, as thousands poured onto the streets across the capital and the country, waving red-stained fabric.

The sole brief exchange of fire came from the Secret Police building, where the regime hardliners had been encamped since the news of the revolt had came into the government. As the masses filled the major avenues of the capital, the red cloths were tied around gun barrels, red sheets draped across tank cannons, and soldiers were given impromptu red cravats.

Tavares, having remained in the Prime Minister's residence, had two options in front of him. The hardliners in the government, urged him to fight. By this stage, the outcome was clear, the regime either had to fall, or civil war on the streets of the country.

At 7pm on 28th July, Tavares spoke on national television and radio. His fiery speech against the coup began in such a way that created a degree of panic that the government would chose to fight on. The panic was misplaced when he announced he would hand over power peacefully to Fernandes Barreto at midnight. What had began the day as an uprising, ended the day with parties being thrown across the country, Santo André in particular became a hotbed of parties, pulling down of regime posters, propaganda and busts of Coutinho.


The Aftermath