World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Politics of Portugal

Article Id: WHEBN0000056961
Reproduction Date:

Title: Politics of Portugal  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Portugal, Portuguese Communist Party, Portuguese local election, 2009, Portuguese local election, 2013, People-Animals-Nature
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Politics of Portugal

Coat of arms of Portugal
This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
Foreign relations

Politics in Portugal takes place in a framework of a Parliamentary representative democratic republic, whereby the Prime Minister of Portugal is the head of government. Portugal has a multi-party system. The President of Portugal is the head of state and has mostly a ceremonial role. Executive power is exercised by the Council of Ministers. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the Assembly of the Republic. The judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature.

Since 1975, the party system has been dominated by the social democratic Socialist Party and the liberal conservative Social Democratic Party.

Political background

The national and regional governments are dominated by two political parties, the PS, a social democratic party that resembles the British Labour or the German SPD, and the PSD, a conservative party and member of the European Parliament's European People's Party group, which have similar basic policies in some respects: both are pro-Europe and support the market economy. Other parties with seats in the parliament are the Portuguese Communist Party, the People's Party, the Left Bloc and the Green Party. The Communists and the Greens are in coalition as the Democratic Unitarian Coalition.

As of 2011, Pedro Passos Coelho is the prime minister for the liberal conservative Social Democratic Party in coalition with the right-wing conservative People's Party. The coalition is supported by a majority in the Parliament of 132 MPs. The major opposition party is now the Socialist Party (the party of the former Prime Minister José Sócrates) with 74 MPs. Also represented are the Portuguese Communist Party (16 MPs), the Green Party (2 MPs) and the Left Bloc (8 MPs), all to the left of the governing coalition.

History of the current regime

The São Bento Palace, home to the Portuguese Assembly of the Republic, in Lisbon

The first Portuguese Constitution was drafted in 1822. Several revolutions led to the constitutions of 1822 (Liberal Revolution of 1820), 1826, 1838 (Liberal Wars), 1911 (1910 Republican revolution), 1933 (28th May 1926 coup d'état).

Portugal's 25 April 1976 constitution reflected the country's 1974–76 move from authoritarian rule to provisional military government to a representative democracy with some initial communist and left-wing influence. The military coup in 1974, which became known as the Carnation Revolution, was a result of multiple internal and external factors like the colonial wars that ended in removing the dictator, Marcelo Caetano, from power. The prospect of a communist takeover in Portugal generated considerable concern among the country's NATO allies. The revolution also led to the country abruptly abandoning its colonies overseas and to the return of an estimated 600,000 Portuguese citizens from abroad. The 1976 constitution, which defined Portugal as a "Republic... engaged in the formation of a classless society," was revised in 1982, 1989, 1992, 1997, 2001, and 2004.

The 1982 revision of the constitution placed the military under strict civilian control, trimmed the powers of the president, and abolished the Revolutionary Council (a non-elected committee with legislative veto powers). The country joined the European Union in 1986, beginning a path toward greater economic and political integration with its richer neighbors in Europe. The 1989 revision of the constitution eliminated much of the remaining Marxist rhetoric of the original document, abolished the communist-inspired "agrarian reform", and laid the groundwork for further privatization of nationalized firms and the government-owned communications media. The 1992 revision made it compatible with the Maastricht treaty.

The current Portuguese constitution provides for progressive administrative decentralization and calls for future reorganization on a regional basis. 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. Apart from the Azores and Madeira, the country 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.

XIII and XIV Constitutional Governments (1995–2002)

The Prime Minister Guterres continued the privatization and modernization policies begun by his predecessor, Aníbal Cavaco Silva of the Social Democratic Party. Guterres was a vigorous proponent of the effort to include Portugal in the first round of countries to collaborate and put into effect the euro in 1999. In international relations, Guterres pursued strong ties with the United States and greater Portuguese integration with the European Union while continuing to raise Portugal's profile through an activist foreign policy. One of his first decisions as Prime Minister was to send 900 troops to participate in the IFOR peacekeeping mission in Bosnia. Portugal later contributed 320 troops to SFOR, the follow-up Bosnia operation. Portugal also contributed aircraft and personnel to NATO's Operation Allied Force in Kosovo.

XV Constitutional Government (2002–2004)

The XV Constitutional Government was led by José Manuel Durão Barroso, leader of the Social Democratic Party in coalition with the People's Party, whose leader, Paulo Portas, became Minister of Defence.

XVI Constitutional Government (2004–2005)

After Pedro Santana Lopes, the new Social Democratic Party leader, as Prime Minister, who thus formed a new government, in coalition with the People's Party. However, in December 2004, due to several controversies involving the government, the President dissolved the parliament and called for early elections. Santana Lopes resigned after the announcement of the President's decision.

XVII and XVIII Constitutional Governments (2005–2011)

In the Diogo Freitas do Amaral, founder of the right wing People's Party, who assumed office as Ministry of Foreign Affairs (he later resigned due to personal issues). Sócrates was re-elected in 2009 but lost the majority he had. The 2010 European debt crisis led Portugal to ask for a bailout from the IMF and the European Union. This situation led to the resignation of José Sócrates as Prime Minister and the President dissolved the parliament and called for early elections.

XIX Constitutional Government (2011–)

In the elections held on June 5, the Social Democratic Party won enough seats to form a majority government with the People's Party. The XIX Constitutional Government is led by Pedro Passos Coelho. It has 11 ministers and was sworn in on June 21.


Government in Portugal is made up of three branches originally envisioned by enlightenment philosopher Baron de Montesquieu: executive, legislative, and judicial. Each branch is separate and is designed to keep checks and balances on the others.

Executive branch

The President, elected to a 5-year term by direct, universal suffrage, is also commander-in-chief of the armed forces. Presidential powers include appointing the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers, in which the President must be guided by the assembly election results; 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 by:[1]

The president, according to the election results, names the party that shall form a government, whose leader is appointed Prime Minister. The Prime Minister names the Council of Ministers, and the ministers name their Secretaries of State A new government is required to define the broad outline of its policy in a program and present it to the assembly for a mandatory period of debate. Failure of the assembly to reject the program by a majority of deputies confirms the government in office.

Main office holders
Office Name Party Since
President Aníbal Cavaco Silva Social Democratic Party 9 March 2006
Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho Social Democratic Party 21 June 2011

Legislative branch

The four main organs 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 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 4 years, unless the president dissolves the assembly and calls for new elections.

Political parties and elections

 Summary of the 5 June 2011 Assembly of the Republic elections results
Parties Votes % ±pp swing MPs MPs %/
votes %
2009 2011 ± % ±
Social Democratic 2,159,181 38.66 Increase9.6 81 108 Increase27 46.96 Increase11.7 1.21
Socialist 1,566,347 28.05 Decrease8.5 97 74 Decrease23 32.17 Decrease10.0 1.15
People's 653,888 11.71 Increase1.3 21 24 Increase3 10.43 Increase1.3 0.89
Democratic Unity Coalition[A] 441,147 7.90 Increase0.0 15 16 Increase1 6.96 Increase0.4 0.88
Left Bloc 288,923 5.17 Decrease4.6 16 8 Decrease8 3.48 Decrease3.5 0.67
Workers' Communist Party 62,610 1.12 Increase0.2 0 0 Steady0 0.00 Steady0.0 0.0
Party for Animals and Nature 57,995 1.04 0 0.00 0.0
Earth Party 22,705 0.41 Increase0.3 0 0 Steady0 0.00 Steady0.0 0.0
Hope for Portugal Movement 21,942 0.39 Decrease0.1 0 0 Steady0 0.00 Steady0.0 0.0
National Renovator Party 17,548 0.31 Increase0.1 0 0 Steady0 0.00 Steady0.0 0.0
Portuguese Labour Party 16,895 0.30 Increase0.2 0 0 Steady0 0.00 Steady0.0 0.0
People's Monarchist Party 14,687 0.26 Decrease0.0 0 0 Steady0 0.00 Steady0.0 0.0
New Democracy 11,806 0.21 Decrease0.2 0 0 Steady0 0.00 Steady0.0 0.0
Portugal Pro-Life 8,209 0.15 Steady0.0 0 0 Steady0 0.00 Steady0.0 0.0
Workers Party of Socialist Unity 4,572 0.08 Steady0.0 0 0 Steady0 0.00 Steady0.0 0.0
Democratic Party of the Atlantic 4,569 0.08 0 0.00 0.0
Humanist Party 3,588 0.06 0 0.00 0.0
Total valid 5,357,037 95.92 Decrease1.0 230 230 Steady0 100.00 Steady0.0
Blank ballots 148,618 2.66 Increase0.9
Invalid ballots 79,399 1.42 Increase0.1
Total (turnout 58.03%) 5,585,054 100.00 Decrease1.7
A Portuguese Communist Party (14 MPs) and "The Greens" (2 MPs) ran in coalition.[2]
Source: Comissão Nacional de Eleições
 Summary of the 23 January 2011 Portuguese presidential election results
Candidates Supporting parties First round
Votes %
Aníbal Cavaco Silva Social Democratic Party, People's Party, Hope for Portugal Movement 2,231,956 52.95
Manuel Alegre Socialist Party, Left Bloc, Democratic Party of the Atlantic, Workers' Communist Party 831,838 19.74
Fernando Nobre Independent 593,021 14.07
Francisco Lopes Portuguese Communist Party, Ecologist Party "The Greens" 301,017 7.14
José Manuel Coelho New Democracy Party 189,918 4.51
Defensor Moura Independent 67,110 1.59
Total valid 4,214,860 100.00
Blank ballots 192,127 4.28
Invalid ballots 85,466 1.90
Total (turnout 46.52%) 4,492,453
Source: Comissão Nacional de Eleições

Judicial branch

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 Court reviews the constitutionality of legislation.

Administrative divisions

18 districts (distritos, singular - distrito) and 2 autonomous regions* (regiões autónomas, singular - região autónoma); Aveiro, Açores (Azores)*, Beja, Braga, Bragança, Castelo Branco, Coimbra, Évora, Faro, Guarda, Leiria, Lisboa, Madeira*, Portalegre, Porto, Santarém, Setúbal, Viana do Castelo, Vila Real, Viseu

International organization participation

WTrO, Zangger Committee

See also


  1. ^ Constituição da República Portuguesa
  2. ^ Electoral results - Assembly of the Republic

External links

  • Portuguese government website
  • Associação portuguesa de ciência política
  • Election results
  • Comissão Nacional de Eleições
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.