The military coup d’état of April 1974 ended a long era of dictatorship in Portugal. After the coup, a series of interim military governments controlled Portugal, and much of the economy was nationalized. A new political era dawned with the drafting of Portugal’s current constitution, issued in 1976 and amended in 1982 to complete the transition to a full civilian government. The preamble of the constitution initially called for the creation of a “classless society” based on public ownership of land, natural resources, and the principal means of production; this socialist language was struck in 1989. The constitution was revised in 1992 to accommodate the Treaty on European Union (Maastricht Treaty), and again in 1997 to permit national referenda to be held. Portugal is a republic with a president and a unicameral (single-chamber) legislature. The constitution guarantees all citizens a variety of basic rights, including freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of assembly, and the right to strike. Censorship and capital punishment are prohibited. Portuguese citizens aged 18 or older have the right to vote.
Executive power in Portugal is shared by a president and prime minister. The president of Portugal is popularly elected to a five-year term as head of state. A president may serve a maximum of two consecutive terms in office. The president appoints and dismisses the prime minister and can veto legislation passed by the legislature. The president sets election dates, directs foreign policy, and serves as commander in chief of the armed forces.
The person who is appointed prime minister is usually the leader of the political party with the most seats in the parliament. The prime minister leads the government, which is composed of a cabinet of about 15 ministers. The prime minister and cabinet formulate government policy, draw up the budget, and supervise public administration. The prime minister and cabinet are responsible to the parliament for the content of public policy.
Legislative power is vested in a unicameral (single-chamber) parliament, the 230-member Assembly of the Republic. Members of the assembly, called deputies, are directly elected under a system of proportional representation and serve four-year terms. The assembly makes the laws and approves the budget. The assembly can override a presidential veto by a two-thirds vote.
The judicial system in Portugal is headed by the Supreme Court, the highest court of appeals in the land. The Supreme Court is composed of a president and 29 judges who are appointed for life. Below the Supreme Court are four regional courts of appeal, as well as many local and district courts.
The leading political parties in Portugal are the centrist Social Democratic Party (PSD, or Partido Social Democrata); the center-left Socialist Party (PS, or Partido Socialista); the center-right Popular Party (PP, or Partido Popular), formerly the Social Democratic Center Party; and the leftist Unitary Democratic Coalition (CDU, or Coligação Democrática Unitária). The CDU coalition includes the Portuguese Communist Party (PCP, or Partido Comunista Português) and the Green Party (PEV, or Partido Ecologista Os Verdes), an environmentalist group. "Portugal" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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