Vasco Gonçalves

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Vasco Gonçalves
Vasco Goncalves 1982 Henrique Matos 01.jpg
103rd Prime Minister of Portugal
In office
18 July 1974 – 19 September 1975
President António de Spínola
Francisco da Costa Gomes
Deputy José Teixeira Ribeiro
António Arnão Metelo
Preceded by Adelino da Palma Carlos
Succeeded by José Pinheiro de Azevedo
Minister of Education and Culture
In office
29 November 1974 – 4 December 1974
Preceded by Vitorino Magalhães Godinho
Succeeded by Manuel Rodrigues Carvalho
Personal details
Born Vasco dos Santos Gonçalves
(1921-05-03)3 May 1921
Lisbon, Portugal
Died 11 June 2005(2005-06-11) (aged 84)
Almancil, Portugal
Political party Independent
Spouse(s) Aida Rocha Afonso
Children 1 daughter and 1 son
Alma mater Portuguese Military Academy
Profession Army officer
Awards Order of Aviz
Order Playa Girón
Military service
Service/branch Portuguese Army
Years of service 1942–1975
Rank General

General Vasco dos Santos Gonçalves OA (Portuguese pronunciation: [ˈvaʃku ɡõˈsaɫvɨʃ]; Lisbon 3 May 1921 – 11 June 2005) was a Portuguese army officer in the Engineering Corps who took part in the Carnation Revolution and later served as the 104th Prime Minister from 18 July 1974 to 19 September 1975.

Vasco dos Santos Gonçalves was born on May 3 1921, in Sintra, Portugal. His father, Vítor Candido Gonçalves, was a professional footballer turned foreign exchange dealer. He graduated from the Portuguese military academy as an engineer in 1942. Gonçalves married, in 1950, Aida Rocha Alfonso, with whom he had a son and a daughter.[1]

In 1973, Gonçalves joined the Armed Forces Movement and was involved in the planning of the overthrow of the Estado Novo regime.[2]

Gonçalves short tenure as Prime Minister of Portugal was marked by political turmoil and instability. As prime minister, Gonçalves oversaw the transition of the Portugal into a democracy known as the Processo Revolucionário Em Curso or the Ongoing Revolutionary Process. Gonçalves leadership was challenged early in March 1975 during a right wing coup d'état which ultimately failed. As prime minister, the Portuguese government nationalized all Portuguese-owned capital in the banking, insurance, petrochemical, fertilizer, tobacco, cement, and wood pulp sectors of the economy, as well as the Portuguese iron and steel company, major breweries, large shipping lines, most public transport, two of the three principal shipyards, core companies of the Companhia União Fabril (CUF) conglomerate, radio and TV networks (except that of the Roman Catholic Church), and important companies in the glass, mining, fishing, and agricultural sectors. Because of the key role of the domestic banks as holders of stock, the government indirectly acquired equity positions in hundreds of other firms. An Institute for State Participation was created to deal with the many disparate and often tiny enterprises in which the state had thus obtained a majority shareholding. Another 300 small to medium enterprises came under public management as the government "intervened" to rescue them from bankruptcy following their takeover by workers or abandonment by management.[3] Several high-profile entrepreneurs had to leave the country due to the pro-communist radicalism of both a section of the population and the new revolutionary leadership in charge of the government - the Junta de Salvação Nacional (National Salvation Junta).

A mural in support of Vasco Gonçalves.

In April 1975, the Socialist Party and their allies gained a majority in the provisional constituent assembly, they quickly denounced Gonçalves and began a series of campaigns of civil disobedience against Gonçalves' government. On August 18, 1975 Gonçalves delivered a forceful speech decrying his political opponents. The tone of this speech raised doubts about his sanity and two weeks later, amid a growing threat of civil war, President Francisco da Costa Gomes dismissed Gonçalves.[4]

Gonçalves' dismissal was met with heavy opposition from the radical Portuguese left, most notably from the Portuguese Workers' Communist Party who held mass demonstrations in Lisbon in 1975.[5]

After his tenure as Prime Minister, Gonçalves retired from politics and would occasionally attend rallies in support of the Portuguese Communist Party. His last public appearance was in 2004 at an event with Portuguese Prime Minister José Manuel Durão Barroso.[6]

Vasco dos Santos Gonçalves died on June 11th, 2005 at the age of 84 after drowning in his brother's swimming pool due to cardiac complications.[7]


  1. ^ "General Vasco Goncalves Marxist Prime Minister of Portugal and the ideological brains behind the 1974 'Carnation Revolution'." Daily Telegraph [London, England], 23 June 2005, p. 001. Global Issues in Context, Accessed 27 Feb. 2017.
  2. ^ Gallagher, Tom. The Independent Retrieved 28 March 2017.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  3. ^ "Portugal - Revolutionary Change in the Economy". Country Studies. Library of Congress. Retrieved 24 February 2017.   This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  4. ^ "General Vasco Gonçalves". New York Times. New York Times. Retrieved 23 February 2017. 
  5. ^ "SYND 15 8 75 MAOISTS DEMONSTRATE FOR GONCALVES, SOCIALISTS AGAINST HIM". YouTube. Associated Press. Retrieved 27 February 2017. 
  6. ^ Gallagher, Tom. The Independent Retrieved 28 March 2017.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  7. ^ Macedo, Miguel. "Síncope cardíaca vitima general Vasco Gonçalves". Correio da Manha. Retrieved 28 March 2017. 
Political offices
Preceded by
Adelino da Palma Carlos
Prime Minister of Portugal
Succeeded by
José Baptista Pinheiro de Azevedo