Vasco Gonçalves

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 Gonçalves
Vasco Goncalves 1982 Henrique Matos 01 (cropped).jpg
Prime Minister of Portugal
In office
18 July 1974 – 19 September 1975
PresidentAntónio de Spínola
Francisco da Costa Gomes
DeputyJosé Teixeira Ribeiro
António Arnão Metello
Preceded byAdelino da Palma Carlos
Succeeded byJosé Pinheiro de Azevedo
Minister of Education and Culture
In office
29 November 1974 – 4 December 1974
Prime MinisterHimself
Preceded byVitorino Magalhães Godinho
Succeeded byManuel Rodrigues Carvalho
Personal details
Vasco dos Santos Gonçalves

(1921-05-03)3 May 1921
Lisbon, Portugal
Died11 June 2005(2005-06-11) (aged 84)
Almancil, Portugal
Political partyIndependent
SpouseAida Rocha Afonso
Children1 daughter and 1 son
Alma materPortuguese Military Academy
ProfessionArmy officer
AwardsOrder of Aviz
Order Playa Girón
Military service
Allegiance Portugal
Branch/service Portuguese Army
Years of service1942–1975
Battles/warsPortuguese Colonial War
Armed Forces Movement
Carnation Revolution

Early lifeEdit

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

In 1942, Gonçalves graduated from a Portuguese military academy in the Army Engineering Corps. As an officer, Gonçalves served in Portuguese Goa, and spent part of his military career in the Portuguese overseas territories of Angola and Mozambique.[2]

In 1973, Gonçalves joined the Armed Forces Movement and was involved in the planning of the overthrow of the Estado Novo regime.[3]

Political careerEdit

Gonçalves's tenure as Prime Minister of Portugal was marked by political turmoil and instability. The PM oversaw the transition of the Portugal into a democracy known as the Processo Revolucionário Em Curso or the Ongoing Revolutionary Process.

Early in March 1975, Gonçalves's leadership was challenged by a right-wing coup attempt which ultimately failed. Emboldened by this, the Prime Minister proceeded to nationalize 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.[4]

A mural in support of Vasco Gonçalves.

In April 1975, the Socialist Party and its allies gained a majority in the provisional constituent assembly; they quickly denounced Gonçalves, whom they accused of left-wing extremism, and they began a series of campaigns of civil disobedience against Gonçalves' government.[5] On 18 August, Gonçalves delivered an impassioned 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.[6][7]

Gonçalves' dismissal was met with heavy opposition from the radical Portuguese left, most notably from the Portuguese Workers' Communist Party, which organized mass demonstrations in Lisbon in September 1975.[8]

Later lifeEdit

After his tenure as Prime Minister, Gonçalves retired from politics and would occasionally attend rallies in support of movements from the left. His last public appearance was in 2004 at an event with Portuguese Prime Minister José Manuel Durão Barroso.[3]

While remaining independent throughout his life, Gonçalves identified as a Marxist.[9]

Vasco dos Santos Gonçalves died on 11 June 2005 at the age of 84 after drowning in his brother's swimming pool due to cardiac complications.[10]


  1. ^ "General Vasco Gonçalves 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 February 2017.
  2. ^ Giniger, Henry (18 July 1974). "Unpretentious Portuguese Leader Vasco dos Santos Goncalves". The New York Times. New York Times. Retrieved 3 February 2018.
  3. ^ a b Gallagher, Tom. "General Vasco Gonçalves". The Independent. Archived from the original on 11 August 2022. Retrieved 28 March 2017.
  4. ^ Hammond, John L. Building popular power: Workers' and neighborhood movements in the Portuguese revolution. Monthly Review Press, 1988.
  5. ^ The Making of Modern Portugal, edited by Luís Trindade, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2013.
  6. ^ "General Vasco Gonçalves". The New York Times. Retrieved 23 February 2017.
  7. ^ Manuel, Paul Christopher. The Challenges of Democratic Consolidation in Portugal: Political, Economic, and Military Issues, 1976-1991. Greenwood Publishing Group, 1996.
  8. ^ "SYND 15 8 75 MAOISTS DEMONSTRATE FOR GONCALVES, SOCIALISTS AGAINST HIM". YouTube. Associated Press. Archived from the original on 13 December 2021. Retrieved 27 February 2017.
  9. ^ Rodrigues, Miguel Urbano. "VASCO GONÇALVES – O general do povo que fez história". resistir. Retrieved 6 February 2018.
  10. ^ Macedo, Miguel. "Síncope cardíaca vitima general Vasco Gonçalves". Correio da Manha. Retrieved 28 March 2017.
Political offices
Preceded by Prime Minister of Portugal
Succeeded by