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World > Europe > Portugal > Government and Political Conditions (Notes)

Portugal - Government and Political Conditions (Notes)


GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS
Portugal moved from authoritarian rule to parliamentary democracy following the 1974 military coup against dictator Marcello Caetano, himself a continuation of the long-running dictatorship of Antonio Salazar. After a period of instability and communist agitation, Portugal ratified a new Constitution in 1976. Subsequent revisions of the Constitution placed the military under strict civilian control; trimmed the powers of the president; and laid the groundwork for a stable, pluralistic liberal democracy, as well as privatization of nationalized firms and the government-owned communications media. Portugal joined the European Union in 1986, and has moved toward greater political and economic integration with Europe ever since.

The four main branches of the national government are the presidency, the prime minister and Council of Ministers (the government), the Assembly of the Republic (the parliament), and the judiciary. The president, elected to a five-year term by direct, universal suffrage, also is commander in chief of the armed forces. Presidential powers include confirming the prime minister and Council of Ministers; dismissing the prime minister; dissolving the assembly to call early elections; vetoing legislation, which may be overridden by the assembly; and declaring a state of war or siege. The Council of State, a presidential advisory body, is composed of six senior civilian officers, former presidents elected under the 1976 constitution, five members chosen by the assembly, and five selected by the president.

The government is headed by the prime minister, who is nominated by the assembly for confirmation by the president. The prime minister then names the Council of Ministers. A new government is required to present its governing platform to the assembly for approval.

The Assembly of the Republic is a unicameral body composed of up to 230 deputies. Elected by universal suffrage according to a system of proportional representation, deputies serve terms of office of four years, unless the president dissolves the assembly and calls for new elections. The national Supreme Court is the court of last appeal. Military, administrative, and fiscal courts are designated as separate court categories. A nine-member Constitutional Tribunal reviews the constitutionality of legislation.

The Azores and Madeira Islands have constitutionally mandated autonomous status. A regional autonomy statute promulgated in 1980 established the Government of the Autonomous Region of the Azores; the Government of the Autonomous Region of Madeira operates under a provisional autonomy statute in effect since 1976. Continental Portugal is divided into 18 districts, each headed by a governor appointed by the Minister of Internal Administration. Macau, a former dependency, reverted to Chinese sovereignty in December 1999.

Current Administration
Parliamentary elections on February 20, 2005, gave the Socialist Party a comfortable majority for the new Prime Minister, Jose Socrates. Socrates? government formally assumed power March 12, 2005.

The Socialist Party?s 2005 victory followed a period of transition after center-right (PSD) Prime Minister Jose Manuel Durão Barroso resigned to accept the nomination as President of the European Commission. Durão Barroso, elected in 2002, committed his government to public-sector austerity and business incentives to promote growth, trade, and productivity. It faced rising unemployment, meeting euro-zone fiscal requirements, and adapting to European Union and NATO enlargement. After Durão Barroso?s resignation, President Jorge Sampaio asked the former mayor of Lisbon, Pedro Santana Lopes, to form a new government. Sampaio lost confidence in that government by the end of 2004, dissolved parliament, and called for new parliamentary elections.

Social Democrat Anibal Cavaco Silva, a center-right candidate and former Prime Minister, won the Portuguese presidential election on January 22, 2006 with 50.6% of the vote. He was sworn in on March 9, 2006, replacing outgoing Socialist President Sampaio.

Principal Government Officials
President of the Portuguese Republic--Anibal Cavaco Silva
Prime Minister--Jose Socrates
Minister of Foreign Affairs--Luis Amado
Minister of Defense--Nuno Severiano Teixeira
Minister of State for Internal Administration--Rui Pereira
Minister of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers--Pedro Silva Pereira
Minister of State and Justice--Alberto Costa
Minister of Finance--Fernando Teixeira dos Santos
Minister of Economy and Innovation--Manuel Pinho
Minister of Parliamentary Affairs--Augusto Santos Silva
Minister of the Environment--Francisco Nunes
Minister of Culture--Isabel Pires de Lima
Minister of Agriculture--Jaime Silva
Minister of Public Works--Mario Lino
Minister of Labor and Social Security--Jose Vieira da Silva
Minister of Science, Technology and Higher Education--Jose Mariano Gago
Minister of Education--Maria de Lurdes Rodrigues
Ambassador to the United States--Joao de Vallera


Portugal maintains an embassy in the United States at 2012 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20036; Tel. 202-350-5400; Fax 202-462-3726 and consulates general in New York City, Boston, San Francisco, and Newark, NJ; consulates in Providence, RI and New Bedford, MA; and honorary consulates in Honolulu, Los Angeles, Houston, New Orleans, Chicago, Philadelphia, Miami, San Juan, and Waterbury. The Portuguese National Tourist Office in the United States is located at 590 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10036 (tel: 212-354-4403).


Facts at a Glance: Geography - People - Government - Economy - Communications - Transportation - Military - Climate - Current Time - Ranking Positions - Euro Exchange Rates
Notes and Commentary: Economy - Government and Political Conditions - Historical Highlights - Foreign Relations - Relations with U.S.



Facts at a Glance
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Government
Economy
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Transportation
Military
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Current Time
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Notes and Commentary
Economy
Government and Political Conditions
Historical Highlights
Foreign Relations
Relations with U.S.





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