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Britain and the USA intervened to ensure the Communist defeat in the civil war, and supported the creation of a political system in which – behind a facade of parliamentary democracy – the monarchy, the security services and the military had significant influence, suppressed dissent and upheld right wing values. The Communist Party was banned. By 1963 liberal and left wing groupings began to gain ground both through popular protest and parliamentary elections. In April 1963 a nonaligned peace group, the Bertrand Russell Committee, called a march from Marathon to Athens. The Karamanlis government banned it and arrested the organizers, and police beat up those who nevertheless tried to demonstrate. The Democratic Leftist MP Grigoris Lambrakis, enjoying parliamentary immunity, completed the march alone. A month later, he was assassinated by right wing thugs. His funeral turned into a mass peaceful demonstration. When it was eventually revealed that the Thessaloniki police had assisted the assassination, the Palace forced Karamanlis out of office. The subsequent elections in November 1963 brought George Papandreou’s Centre Left government to power. In April 1964, half a million people gathered at Marathon to commemorate Lambrakis, and the march has become an annual event. The Greek left and peace movement had transnational links, for instance Lambrakis came to Britain for the Aldermaston nuclear disarmament march, and a group from the British Committee of 100 tried to take part in the first Marathon march, and the Committee later organised protests against the Greek royal visit to London in June 1963 (and after the 1967 coup, the occupation of the Greek embassy in London).

In July 1965, the Palace again intervened in Greek politics, dismissing Papandreou in response to rightwing fears of neutralist tendencies in his government. This provoked a wave of popular protest. To forestall new elections and the possible re-election of George Papandreou, sections of the military organized a coup in April 1967. The Colonels, led by George Papadopoulos, dissolved all political parties and imposed censorship. The King, after an abortive counter-coup attempt, fled abroad in December 1987.

The Colonels’ dictatorship brought intense pressure on people to conform, for example by displaying portraits of Papadopoulos, and savagely repressed dissent. Suspected opponents were routinely tortured, and even distributing leaflets carried a prison sentence of several years. Some opponents responded by trying to assassinate leaders of the coup and by planting bombs. However, most resistance was either ‘hidden’, for example go-slows by civil servants, or at the level of writing up slogans and distributing leaflets. Underground political organization, including an underground press, rapidly developed. The coup united intellectuals from the left and the right for the first time since the civil war. The first major public demonstration occurred at the funeral for George Papandreou in November 1968, when up to 500,000 people defied martial law and shouted slogans. The 1971 funeral of Nobel Prize winning poet George Sefiris was the occasion for another mass demonstration.

International pressure resulted in some relaxation of censorship from 1970, but harassment of suspected opponents continued. Students were particularly active in resisting the regime and in November 1973 their sustained agitation culminated in the occupation of the Athens Polytechnic. They broadcast appeals for public support and thousands, including workers, demonstrated in response. The Colonels then turned tanks and guns on the students, killings scores, wounding hundreds and arresting about 7,000. This confrontation was followed by an internal coup ousting Papadopoulos. Soon afterwards the new regime brought Greece to the verge of war over Cyprus, and sections of the military stepped in to oust the junta. They recalled Karamanlis to become prime minister and set in train the revival of parliamentary democracy.

The literature on the opposition to the Colonels includes both analyses by academic experts on Greece and accounts by key individuals. Much was published before the events of 1973, but later accounts cover the student resistance.

Athenian’, ‘, Inside the Colonels’ Greece, Translated and introduced by Richard Clogg, London, Chatto and Windus, 1972, pp. 215

The author, writing from inside Greece, covers the background to the coup, going back to the 1930s, and analyses the nature of the regime. See especially chapter 8 ‘The Great Fear’, pp. 123-31; and chapter 9, ‘The Resistance’, pp. 132-44.

Clogg, Richard ; Yannopoulos, George, Greece under Military Rule, London, Secker and Warburg, 1972, pp. 272

See especially: chapter 3.’The Ideology of the Revolution of 21 April 1967’, pp. 36-58; chapter 4 ‘The Colonels and the Press’. pp.59-74; chapter 8 ‘Culture and the Military’, pp. 148-62, which includes materials on censorship and repression and on forms of intellectual resistance, such as circulating ‘samizdat’, and liberal protests and manifestos; and chapter 9 ‘The State of the Opposition Forces since the Military coup’, pp. 163-90.

McDonald, Robert, The Greek Press under the Colonels, Index on Censorship, Vol. 3, issue 4, 1974, pp. 27-44

Papandreou, Andreas, Democracy at Gunpoint: The Greek Front, [1970], London, Andre Deutsch, 1971, pp. 338

Part 3 focuses on ‘The Struggle for Freedom’, including international pressure on the regime.

Theodorakis, Mikis, Journals of Resistance, Translated from the French, London, Hart-Davis Mac Gibbon, 1973, pp. 334

Theodorakis, whose music was banned by the Colonels, was a prominent member of the broad-based Patriotic-Front Movement created in May 1967 to oppose the junta. Like hundreds of other members, he was imprisoned. This book recounts his successive arrests, internment and imprisonment, until external intervention secured his release from a prison hospital in 1970.

Vlachos, Helen, Free Greek Voice, London, Doric Publications, 1971, pp. 168

Vlachos, who refused to publish her right wing paper Kathimerini after the coup, was arrested for publishing an article abroad critical of the regime. She also wrote an account of her experience in Vlachos, Helen , House Arrest London, Andre Deutsch, , 1970, pp. 158 .

Woodhouse, C.M., The Rise and Fall of the Greek Colonels, London, Granada, 1985, pp. 192

Chapter 3 ‘Resistance and Reaction: April-December 1967, pp. 33-48, covers early opposition to the regime. Chapter 10 gives detail on ‘The Students’ Revolt: November 1973’, pp. 126-41.

See also:

Chris Harman, The Fire Last Time: 1968 and After, (E. III.2. Portugal, Resisting the Salazar Regime and the 1974 Revolution of the Carnations), pp. 305-10, which gives some weight to the Polytechnic rebellion.

Portugal suffered a military coup in 1926, and in 1932 the military endorsed Antonio de Oliveira Salazar as civilian head of state. Strongly influenced by Mussolini, he presided over a rightwing dictatorial regime embracing his ideology of the ‘New State’. Salazar was officially Prime Minister from 1932 to 1968. The regime suppressed all forms of left wing opposition, relying on the PIDE political police, allowed one political ‘party’, and created official trade unions. Freedom of speech and civil liberties were denied, and strikes banned. The regime held elections for the ceremonial post of President, on a franchise restricted by literacy (over one third of adults were illiterate as late as the 1960s) and property qualifications. However, when General Delgado ran against the official candidate in 1958, this limited opening for dissent was cancelled. In 1968, Salazar was succeeded by Marcello Caetano, who made some moves towards liberalization, but did not change the basic nature of the regime.

There were indications of dissent under Salazar, for example illegal strikes. The banned Communist Party maintained an underground presence, and there were also some manifestations of liberal dissent, but the major, indirect, expression of civilian resistance was mass (usually illegal) emigration in search of jobs and to escape the draft. Ultimately, the clearest signs of opposition emerged within the armed forces in reaction to Portugal’s colonial wars in Africa from 1961, wars that engaged a high proportion of the troops in unwinnable conflicts, and drained the country’s resources. ‘People power’ in Portugal followed the coup of April 1974 which enjoyed immense popular support, expressed by the carnations put in the gun barrels of the soldiers. Portugal entered a period of mass mobilization and expression of radical ideas in 1974-75.

de Figueiredo, Antonio, Fifty Years of Dictatorship, Harmondsworth, Penguin, 1975, pp. 261

By journalist and political activist, who supported Delgado in his opposition to Salazar, was imprisoned in Portugal for his resistance to the regime, and campaigned against Portugal’s colonial abuses.

Fernandes, Tiago, Authoritarian Regimes and Democratic Semioppositions: the end of the Portuguese dictatorship (1968-74) in comparative perspective, Working Paper 5-06, Lisboa, Instituto de Ciencias Sociais, Universidade de Lisboa, 2006, pp. 30

Hammond, John L., Building Popular Power: Workers’ and Neighbourhoods’ Movements in the Portuguese Revolution, New York, Monthly Review Press, 1988, pp. 320

Harman, Chris, The Fire Last Time: 1968 and After, [1988], London, Bookmarks, 1998, pp. 410

Chapter 13 ‘Portugal: The Revolution that Wilted’ recounts from a revolutionary socialist perspective the extraordinary ferment of 1974-75, a period of ‘dual power’ between radical workers going on strike and occupying their workplaces and the provisional government, with increasing polarization between left and right.

Mailer, Phil, Portugal: the Impossible Revolution, [1977], London, Merlin Press, 2012, pp. 276

Firsthand account from Irish libertarian socialist, looking beyond parties and discussing agrarian and urban social struggles.

Maxwell, Kenneth, Portugal: The Revolution of the Carnations’, 1974-75, In Roberts; Garton Ash, Civil Resistance and Power Politics: The Experience of Non-violent Action from Gandhi to the Present (A. 1.b. Strategic Theory, Dynamics, Methods and Movements), Oxford, Oxford University Press,

Focuses on 1974-75, and provides more detailed references in both Portuguese and English.

Raby, David L., Fascism and Resistance in Portugal: Communists, Liberals and Military Dissidents in the Opposition to Salazar, 1941-1974, Manchester, Manchester University Press, 1988, pp. 288

Analyses various stages of resistance, the role of the Communist Party throughout, of ‘military populism’ in the 1950s, of socialists and dissenting Catholics in the 1960s, and the impact of the colonial wars.

Valera, Raquel, A People's History of the Portuguese Revolution, London, Pluto Press, 2019, pp. 352

This account of the 19 months Revolution of the Carnations, which arose out of the  military coup that overthrew the Portuguese dictatorship in April 1974, stresses that it was a mass popular revolution, not just a change of regime, that involved workers' strikes and widespread  debate and communal organizing. It was also a socialist revolution, which was replaced by liberal democracy. The author is a professor at the new University of Lisbon.

After the bitter civil war in 1936-39, Franco’s regime subjected the defeated republicans to severe repression and many thousands fled into exile (especially into France). Resistance in the form of guerrilla fighting and major strikes organized by clandestine groups flared up in 1946-47, but was decisively crushed. In the longer term, however, the Franco regime began to change, moving after 1957 from economic autarky and fascist Falangist ideal of an agricultural society towards incorporation into western capitaliost development. In 1962 Spain applied to join the EEC (the forerunner of the European Union), giving opposition intellectuals an opportunity to set out in the ‘Munich Manifesto’ the political reforms required to make Spain an acceptable member of the European Community.

From the 1960s there was both a reduction in poverty, as sectors of society benefited from economic growth and tourism, and some liberalization. Many prisoners had been released in a series of amnesties, and some discreet dissent was tolerated. Although the regime still harshly repressed any active form of dissent, worker and student resistance grew. There was a wave of strikes and student demonstrations in 1956, and 1962 saw the biggest strike since the Civil War, led by the miners of Asturias; students joined the protest. Throughout the 1960s, and with added momentum in the early1970s, workers engaged in wildcat strikes (all strikes were officially illegal and workers were controlled by the fascist-style syndicates). Alongside underground trade unions, workers’ committees bridging old ideological divides sprang up to organize the strikes and infiltrate the official syndicates. Student protest increased and intellectuals also engaged more openly in dissent. Apart from the Basque country, where ETA developed its long running campaign of guerrilla warfare, opposition groups relied primarily on unarmed tactics (although demonstrators quite often engaged in street battles, sometimes with the right-wing Falangists).

After Franco’s death in November 1975, Spain began its transition to democracy, holding free elections in 1977, which the previously underground opposition parties contested legally. A final threat to democratic stability was posed by the attempted military coup in February 1981, when Lieutenant Colonel Tejero led a group of Civil Guards in an attack on parliament when it was in session.. This attempt was, however, soon aborted by the refusal of the palace to back the coup and the willingness of the military high command to obey the king and suppress the plotters.

Most of the literature on the Franco regime is of course in Spanish, including the most comprehensive book on the early opposition: Heine, Hartmut , La oposición al franquismo: de 1939 a 1952 Critica, , 1983, pp. 502 . But there are some English language studies of Francoism which give weight to opposition, and a few studies specifically of resistance. Various websites have archival material from during the dictatorship – for example, http://libcom.org/history has reports from the Asturian miners’ strike by French Situationist Guy Debord.

Balfour, Sebastian, Dictatorship, Workers and the City: Labour in Greater Barcelona: Since 1939, Oxford, Clarendon, 1989, pp. 290

Carr, Raymond ; Fusi, Juan Pablo, Spain: Dictatorship to Democracy, 2nd edition, London, Allen and Unwin, 1981, pp. 288

Especially chapter 7, ‘From “conformism” to confrontation’, pp. 134-67, which covers not only regional, worker and student resistance, but also changes within the Catholic Church; and chapter 9 ‘The regime in crisis: Carrero Blanco and Arras Navarro 1969-1975’, pp. 189-206.

de Blaye, Edouard, Franco and the Politics of Spain, Harmondsworth, Penguin, 1976, pp. 576

Especially chapter 18 ‘The Oppositions’, pp. 490-513.

Linz, Juan, Opposition to and under an Authoritarian Regime: The Case of Spain, In Dahl, Robert A., Regimes and Opposition New Haven CT, Yale University Press, , 1973, pp. 171-259

Much-cited essay discussing categories of opposition.

Maravall, Jose, Dictatorship and Political Dissent: Workers and Students in Franco’s Spain, London, Tavistock, 1978, pp. 199

Preston, Paul, The Triumph of Democracy in Spain, London, Routledge, 1986, pp. 274

Chapter 1, ‘Internal contradictions of Francoism 1939-69’, covers some of the major strikes and demonstrations, and chapters 2 & 3 the Carrero Blanco years 1969-73 and the Arias Navarro government of 1974-76. For political developments from 1939 to 1975, see also: Preston, Paul , Spain in Crisis: Evolution and Decline of the Franco Regime Hassocks, Harvester Press, , 1976, pp. 341 .

Radcliff, Pamela Beth, Making Democratic Citizens in Spain: Civil Society and the Popular Origins of the Transition, 1960-1978, Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan, 2011, pp. 440

In the early 1960s, the dictatorship approved the formation of various types of family and neighbours associations, which in fact opened spaces for oppositional networking.

Tritto, Vigliamo, The Working Class Dimension of “1968”, In Horn, Gerd-Rainer , The Spirit of ‘68: Rebellion in Western Europe and North America, 1956-1976 Oxford, Oxford University Press, , 2007,

Tritto’s comparative chapter on worker protest starts with the important 1962 strike by the Asturian miners.

Welles, Benjamin, Spain: The Gentle Anarchy, London, Pall Mall Press, 1965, pp. 386

By US journalist in Spain. See chapter 7, ‘The Opposition’, pp. 185-228.