During the past two decades Portugal has experienced a consolidation and institutionalisation of its very young democracy. The toppling of the authoritarian dictatorship by a military coup d'etat on 25 April 1974 opened the way to this transition and consolidation. The prospects for a parliamentary democracy were not very good in the first year following the collapse of the authoritarian regime. The radicalisation of the political field almost threatened the development towards a west European democracy. The elections to the Constituent Assembly on 25 April 1975 marked the turning point from a radicalised revolutionary situation to a democratic process of transition.'