Corruption Debates in the First Portuguese Republic 1910-1926




Corruption, First Portuguese Republic, Political Debates


This paper deals with corruption debates as a political factor in the First Portuguese Republic. Criticism of corruption is a hitherto hardly considered aspect for understanding the instability of the Republic. Criticism of corruption as a critique of parliamentarism existed in almost all European countries in the first third of the 20th century. This essay offers a systematic examination of corruption debates in Portugal and aims to emphasise the international commonalities. Similar to the rest of Europe, these criticisms contributed to the bad image and destabilisation of the parliamentary system.

The essay mainly uses political newspapers and pamphlets as sources. After an assessment of the relevant research literature and a very short section on anticorruption in the late monarchy, we will concentrate on three groups of critics: monarchical Catholic voices, radical republican commentaries, and anarchist left-wing contributions. The aim is to reconstruct patterns of argumentation of the aforementioned political directions that were typical throughout the republican period. We will also take up the alleged connection between cultural backwardness and corruption in the Portuguese self-description. In the last section, we will shortly focus on the (almost non-existent) defence strategies of the ruling Republicans.


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