Initially a professor, Salazar began his political life with the 1926 coup by the Portuguese military against the republic. Salazar was twice offered a role in the new government’s finance ministry, accepting the second time (via Britannica). Serving under President Antonio Oscar de Fragoso Carmona, Salazar built up his own reputation until Carmona appointed him prime minister in 1932. From here Salazar’s actions reflect those of many authoritarian leaders of the period — personally creating a new constitution while he used his newfound power to make major infrastructural change (with moderate success) while secret police enforced his will.
However, while Salazar’s dictatorship was extremely nationalistic and dictatorial, there was a conscious effort on his part to ensure Portugal diplomatically remained as far from the Axis as possible (via The New York Times). Throughout World War II, Salazar maintained as close a relationship with the Allies as Portugal’s neutrality would allow, and after the war, even became a foundering member of NATO. Ultimately, it was his desire to retain the country’s colonies and inability to adequately address social inequality that led to the Carnation Revolution following his removal from power and death (via Scroll).