Regenerators Revolt in Portugal 1851

[ 1851 ]

In 1851 Saldanha staged a revolt and, supported by the garrison in Porto, gained control of the government and sent Costa Cabral into exile. Saldanha and his followers were called Regenerators because they recognized the need to modify the charter to make it more compatible with the social and political situation. These modifications appeared as amendments, the first of which was a new electoral law that made the franchise more acceptable to the Septemberists. Gradually, government became stabilized. The Septemberists began to be referred to as Historicals and, later, Progressives.

The Regenerators and Progressives were not political parties in today's sense of the term. The electorate comprised less than 1 percent of the population; therefore, the Regenerators and Progressives were essentially loose coalitions of notables, or leading citizens, based on personal loyalties and local interests. Elections were held after a change in governing factions to provide the new faction with a majority in the legislature. By tacit agreement, one faction would govern as long as it was able and then turn over power to the other. After 1856 this practice of alternating factions at regular intervals, called rotativismo, was all but institutionalized and produced relatively stable government until the end of the nineteenth century.

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