THE AUTHORITARIAN dictator António de Oliveira Salazar was voted the ‘Greatest Personality in Portuguese History’ in the recent RTP programme Os Grandes Portugueses (The Greatest Portuguese).
The 1930s economist won the finals in the programme with 41 per cent of the votes. The results of the voting have generated considerable controversy with the older generation reacting with pride, while others with a sense of embarrassment and shame.
For Salazar’s defenders, the former Portuguese leader is hailed as a good and honest man, a financial and economic genius, who kept Portugal out of the war and maintained the country’s finances on an even keel throughout the 1930s and 1940s.
Others see him as a bad and cold man, the enemy of democracy, the reason behind the lack of freedom and liberty of expression in Portugal at the time, and a figure who created a secret police state and censorship.
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