Francisco de Sá Carneiro
Francisco Sá Carneiro
GCTE, GCC, GCL
|109th Prime Minister of Portugal
Elections: 1976, 1979, 1980
3 January 1980 – 4 December 1980
(11 months and 1 day)
|President||António Ramalho Eanes|
|Deputy||Diogo Freitas do Amaral|
|Preceded by||Maria de Lourdes Pintasilgo|
|Succeeded by||Francisco Pinto Balsemão|
|President of the Social Democratic Party|
29 April 1979 – 4 December 1980
|Amândio de Azevedo (1979)
António Capucho (1979–80)
|Preceded by||José Menéres Pimentel|
|Succeeded by||Francisco Pinto Balsemão|
September 1975 – 22 January 1978
|Joaquim Magalhães Mota (1976–78)|
|Preceded by||Position established|
|Succeeded by||António Sousa Franco|
|Secretary–General of the Social Democratic Party|
6 May 1974 – May 1975
|Preceded by||Position established|
|Succeeded by||Emídio Guerreiro|
|Adjunct Minister of the Prime Minister|
17 May 1974 – 17 July 1974
|Prime Minister||Adelino da Palma Carlos|
|Preceded by||Mario Morais de Oliveira|
|Succeeded by||António de Almeida Santos|
|Minister without Portfolio|
16 May 1974 – 17 July 1974
|Prime Minister||Adelino da Palma Carlos|
|Preceded by||Francisco Pereira de Moura|
|Succeeded by||Ernesto Melo Antunes|
19 July 1934|
|Died||4 December 1980
Camarate, Loures, Portugal
|Political party||Social Democratic Party|
(coalition when Prime Minister; 1979–80)
Liberal Wing (1968–73)
|Spouse(s)||Isabel Sá Carneiro (separated)|
|Domestic partner||Snu Abecassis|
Francisco Manuel Lumbrales de Sá Carneiro, GCTE, GCC, GCL (Portuguese: [fɾɐ̃ˈsiʃku sa kɐɾˈnɐjɾu] ( listen); 19 July 1934 – 4 December 1980) founded the Portuguese Social Democratic Party in 1974 (the year of the Portuguese Carnation Revolution) and became Prime Minister of Portugal in January 1980, but only held office for eleven months, dying in a plane crash with his partner, "Snu" Abecassis (born Ebba Merethe Seidenfaden), on 4 December 1980. A parliamentary inquiry said in 2004 that there was evidence of a bomb in the aircraft, after a 1995 inquiry had concluded there was evidence of sabotage.
Sá Carneiro was born in Porto, Vitória, the third of the five children of lawyer José Gualberto Chaves Marques de Sá Carneiro (born 31 August 1897 in Barcelos) and wife Maria Francisca Judite Pinto da Costa Leite (born 29 March 1908) of the Counts of Lumbrales in Spain.
A lawyer by training, Sá Carneiro became a member of the puppet National Assembly in 1969 and, in turn, one of the leaders of the "Liberal Wing" which attempted to work for the gradual transformation of António de Oliveira Salazar's dictatorship into a Western European democracy.
In May 1974, a month after the Carnation Revolution, Sá Carneiro founded the Popular Democratic Party (PPD), together with Francisco Pinto Balsemão, Joaquim Magalhães Mota, Carlos Mota Pinto, João Bosco Mota Amaral, Alberto João Jardim, António Barbosa de Melo and António Marques Mendes, and became its secretary-general. The PPD was soon renamed the Social Democratic Party (PSD); despite Sá Carneiro's original claims to be leading a left-of-centre party, he and the party soon drifted to the right. He was minister without portfolio in a number of provisional governments, and was elected as a deputy to the Constitutional Assembly the next year.
In 1976, he was elected to the Assembly of the Republic. In November 1977, he resigned his office as president of the party, only to be reelected to that office the next year.
In the general election of late 1979, he led the Democratic Alliance, a coalition of his Social Democratic Party, the right-wing Democratic and Social Centre Party, and two smaller parties, to victory. The Alliance polled 45.2 percent of the popular vote and gained 128 of the 250 seats in the Assembly of the Republic; 75 of these were from the PSD. President António Ramalho Eanes subsequently called on him to form a government on 3 January 1980, and formed Portugal's first majority government since the Carnation Revolution of 1974. In a second general election held in October that year, the Democratic Alliance increased its majority. The Alliance received 47.2 percent of the popular vote and 134 seats, 82 of them from the PSD. Sá Carneiro's triumph appeared to augur well for the presidential election two months later, in which Sá Carneiro was supporting António Soares Carneiro (no relation).
His victory was short-lived, however. On 4 December 1980, while on his way to a presidential election rally in Porto, the Cessna 421 he was on crashed into a building in Camarate, Loures, soon after takeoff from Lisbon Airport. Eyewitnesses claimed they saw pieces falling from the plane just moments after it took off. Rumours have continued to fuel conspiracy theories that the crash was in fact an assassination, but no firm evidence has come to light. There were even different theories as to whom would have been the target of such an assassination, as Francisco de Sá Carneiro was travelling with the Defence Minister, Adelino Amaro da Costa, who had said he had documents relating to the October surprise conspiracy theory and was planning on taking them to the United Nations General Assembly.
Dependent to a considerable extent on Sá Carneiro's personal popularity, the Democratic Alliance was unable to maintain its momentum in the wake of his death. Faced with a national crisis, the public rallied behind the incumbent President, António Ramalho Eanes, who easily defeated the Alliance candidate in the presidential election a few days later.
The airport where Sá Carneiro was heading has been named after him as Francisco de Sá Carneiro Airport, despite objections[by whom?] that it would be in bad taste to name an airport after someone who died in a plane crash.
- Francisco Nunes de Matos de Sá Carneiro, unmarried and without issue
- Isabel Maria Nunes de Matos de Sá Carneiro, unmarried and without issue
- Maria Teresa Nunes de Matos de Sá Carneiro, and had two sons:
- José Nunes de Matos de Sá Carneiro (born Porto, Cedofeita, 1 April 1963), married in Mealhada, Luso, on 8 September 1991 Isabel Maria Guedes de Macedo Girão (born Porto, Ramalde, 25 January 1965), and had an only daughter:
- Pedro Nunes de Matos de Sá Carneiro (born Porto, 12 September 1964), married to Maria Benedita de Matos Chaves Pinheiro Torres, of the Barons of a Torre de Pero Palha, born on 28 May 1967, and had an only daughter:
- Maria Teresa Pinheiro Torres de Sá Carneiro (born Porto, 17 August 2000)
Later in life he lived together with Snu Abecassis, who died in the same accident as Sá Carneiro.
Ideological assessment and legacy
Sá Carneiro started his political life in the youth of the Acção Católica (the Portuguese Catholic Action), being his first activity in civic life to write a letter to Marcelo Caetano requesting the return of the António VIII Ferreira Gomes, the exiled pro-democracy bishop of Oporto. He probably had links with the catholic syndicalist organizations and Christian Socialism in general. He was very influenced by catholic Personalism and Humanism (especially its Christian version).
Sá Carneiro tried to adapt the social-democratic ideas of the likes of Eduard Bernstein, Karl Kautsky, and the post-1945 SPD to the cultural context of Portugal and its traditionally Catholic society. The Godesberg Program had a very important influence in his social democratic thought as it became the model for his party and its cut with Marxist socialism.
Despite having an anti-collectivist and anti-statist party with an emphasis on personal rights and duties that was responsible for privatizing the industrial sectors nationalized during the revolutionary period, he increased social spending during his term, supported land reform and its redistribution in Alentejo and he was proud that his party had been adopted by the working, middle-class blue-collar worker and middle-low class workers and that his party defended "the construction of a socialist society in liberty". Due to all these specificities, he called his party's ideology "Portuguese Social Democracy".
Sá Carneiro was the author of various works, among them:
- Uma Tentativa de Participação Política (An Attempt of Political Participation) (1973)
- Por uma Social-Democracia Portuguesa (For a Portuguese Social Democracy) (1975)
- Poder Civil; Autoridade Democrática e Social-Democracia (Civilian Power; Democratic Authority and Social Democracy (1975)
- Uma Constituição para os Anos 80: Contributo para um Projecto de Revisão (A Constitution for the 1980s: Contribution for a Project of Revision) (1979).
- Grand-Cross of the Order of Christ, Portugal (29 May 1981)
- Grand-Cross of the Order of the Tower and of the Sword, of Valour, Loyalty and Merit, Portugal (7 March 1986) 
- Grand Cross of the Order of Liberty, Portugal (29 November 1990)
- Associated Press, 6 December 2004, New tests indicate sabotage in 1980 air crash that killed Portuguese PM
- "Investigative Commission: 1980 Portugal Crash Was Sabotage".
- David Elsner, Chicago Tribune, 8 October 1995, Premier's Body Exhumed In Inquiry
- "Index Sa". Rulers. Retrieved 16 June 2013.
- on YouTube, 1:44 – 1:58
- "X CONGRESSO da TSD – Trabalhadores Social Democratas (Social Democratic Workers)" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 21 October 2004. Retrieved 7 January 2008. (Portuguese), pg. 7: «O sindicalismo que defendemos e procuramos praticar tem esta matriz social democrata e personalista. A sociedade que queremos ajudar a construir tem neste pensamento os seus alicerces. (...) Como pensou e defendeu Francisco Sá Carneiro.» [«The syndicalism we defend and try to practice has this social democratic and personalist matrix. The society that we want to help to build has in this thought its foundations. (...) As thought and defended Francisco Sá Carneiro.»]
- "X CONGRESSO da TSD" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 21 October 2004. pg. 6: «Sá Carneiro sabia que não há modelos de ideário político que se transponham mecanicamente de umas sociedades para as outras. Foi assim que, embora tomando em consideração o pensamento social democrata reformista de teóricos da Europa germânica e anglo-saxónica, concebeu um projecto de social democracia adaptado à idiossincrasia do povo português e à sua tradição histórica, tão marcada de experiência personalista.» («Sá Carneiro knew that there were not models of political ideary that transposed mechanically from some societies for the others. It was like this that, though taking in consideration the social democratic Reformist thought of the theoreticians of Germanic and Anglo-Saxon Europe, conceived a social democracy project adapted to the idiosyncrasy of the Portuguese people and to its historical tradition, so marked by the personalist experience.»)
- on YouTube, 1:35 – 1:35
- on YouTube, 1:56 – 2:02
- on YouTube, 1:36 – 1:44
- on YouTube
- "Reformist Centre Popular Pan-National photos". (English)
- "O Populismo Laranja (The Orange Populism)". (Portuguese), o António Maria blog, third paragraph: «Em primeiro lugar, porque a matriz ideológica e social do PPD-PSD é geneticamente populista, na modulação muito própria que lhe foi dada desde o início por Francisco Sá Carneiro» ("In the first place, because the ideological and social matrix of the PDP-SDP is genetically populist, in the very specific modulation that was given to it since the beginning by Francisco Sá Carneiro")
- "Textos de Francisco Sá Carneiro (Texts of Francisco Sá Carneiro), 31 da Armada blog". (Portuguese), eleventh comment: «Sá Carneiro, seria hoje um populista como Santana Lopes ou pior ainda... !! (João Jardim... !)» («Sá Carneiro, would be today a populist like Santana Lopes or even worse...!! (João Jardim...!)»)
- "Cidadãos Nacionais Agraciados com Ordens". Página Oficial das Ordens Honoríficas Portuguesas. Retrieved 28 January 2017.
- on YouTube and on YouTube of a version with English subtitles of the official Social Democratic Party documentary made on 25th anniversary of Sá Carneiro's death (4 December 2005)
Maria de Lourdes Pintasilgo
|Prime Minister of Portugal
Diogo de Freitas do Amaral