Making the "New Lourinhã, a European Lourinhã": Democracy, Civic Engagement, and the Urban Development of Lourinhã, Portugal Since 1966
Costa, Raphael John
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Since 1966, Lourinhã’s urban landscape has transformed as Portugal democratized. From a rural town with little infrastructure and few institutions in 1966, Lourinhã emerged by 2001 as an ostensibly modern European town. This work highlights key areas of economic and urban development and argues that Lourinhã’s political culture became more institutionalized leaving less room for, and withering expectation of, citizen participation in local development as Portugal transitioned from dictatorship to democracy. This dissertation examines Portugal’s transition from the Estado Novo dictatorship (1933-1974) to European social democracy by focusing on Lourinhã’s – a town of 22,000 people, north of Lisbon – urbanization since 1966. Lourinhã’s urbanization involved, and indeed required, a shift in its institutional and political culture. In the 1960s and 1970s people were expected to participate in development at a cultural, political and financial level, acting as substitutes for non-existent state mechanisms of development. However, by the late 1980s, the momentum had shifted as regional, national, and European institutions participated in developmental programs, marking a dramatic change in how citizens engaged with the state and the Portuguese nation. From this shift has emerged a debate about the nature of Portugal’s transition to democracy. With the Carnation Revolution of 1974 – the military coup that toppled the Estado Novo – at the center of analysis, academics and pundits ask whether that event represented “evolution or revolution” for Portugal. Was Portugal on the path towards democracy before 1974? And, given contemporary problems, was the rapid shift to European social democracy the blessing it appeared to be by the 1990s? Did democratization disenfranchise the Portuguese in important ways? Are commentators like Jorge Silva Melo, a Lisbon playwright who began his career in the Estado Novo years, correct in asserting that, “under the dictatorship there was hope … that was in ‘72/’73. Nowadays , its exactly the opposite: there is no hope”? This dissertation uses Lourinhã's development as an example of a Portuguese experience to argue that the Carnation Revolution, although a watershed in Portugal's politico-cultural evolution, should not be understood as the moment when democracy came to Portugal.