PORTUGUESE DEMOCRACY

Portugal began to have representative governments in 1820, which is when the monarchy ceased to be absolute. However, in the space of what is now almost two centuries, there have been various periods when public freedoms - notably the freedoms of expression, assembly and association - were subject to restrictions.

Because it lasted for nearly half a century and because it was not so very long ago, perhaps the most significant of these periods was the Salazar regime, which ended on 25 April 1974. One year later, the country held the first elections in which every Portuguese man and woman aged 18 or over was able to vote freely.

What was previously an exception is now common practice and, happily, today it is citizens who appoint their leaders in most of the countries around the world.

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