Alberto João Jardim

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Alberto João Jardim
President of the Regional Government of Madeira
Incumbent
Assumed office
17 March 1978
(36 years, 164 days)
Vice President João Cunha e Silva
Preceded by Jaime Ornelas Camacho
Personal details
Born (1943-02-04) 4 February 1943 (age 71)
Funchal, Madeira Island, Portugal
Political party Social Democratic Party
Spouse(s) Maria Ângela Andrade Martins
Alma mater University of Coimbra
Religion Roman Catholicism

Alberto João Cardoso Gonçalves Jardim, GCIH (Portuguese pronunciation: [aɫˈbɛɾtu ʒuˈɐ̃w̃ ʒɐɾˈdĩ], (born February 4, 1943 in Santa Luzia, Funchal, Madeira Island) is a Portuguese politician who has been the President of the Regional Government of Madeira, Portugal, since 1978. He is currently among the most controversial politicians of Portugal.

Early years[edit]

Jardim was born on Madeira Island in 1943, son of Alberto Gonçalves Jardim (d. 1954) and wife Marceliana do Patrocínio de Jesus Cardoso (Funchal, São Pedro, baptized 2 September 1909 – 29 July 2006). He went to Coimbra in order to study at the local university, and he lived there for over a decade as a student. He was awarded a degree of Licentiate in Law from the Faculty of Law of the University of Coimbra in 1973, with a final grade of 11 (out of 20).

Jardim became a high school teacher. He was also director of the Instituto de Emprego e Formação Profissional da Ilha da Madeira (Employment and Vocational Training Centre of Madeira Island). As a journalist, he was director of "Jornal da Madeira", and wrote for different Portuguese newspapers and magazines.

Politics[edit]

He was one of the Founders[citation needed] of the then Popular Democratic Party (PPD) in May 1974, a month after the Carnation Revolution, together with Francisco Sá Carneiro, Francisco Pinto Balsemão, Joaquim Magalhães Mota, Carlos Mota Pinto, João Bosco Mota Amaral, António Barbosa de Melo and António Marques Mendes, and co-founder of its Madeiran branch.

First elected in 1978, Alberto João Jardim has since then been successively elected President of the Regional Government of Madeira. He is a member of the:

He is one of the longest-serving, democratically elected leaders of any jurisdiction in the world.

Alberto João Jardim is also a member and former Vice President (2000–2001) of the European Union Committee of the Regions. He is Honorary President of the European Summit of Regions & Cities.

He is the founder and a member of the Assembly of European Regions. He was Vice President of European People's Party.

On 19 February 2007, he resigned from his office in protest against the new law on regional finances enacted by the national government of José Sócrates. Due to his resignation, early elections had to be scheduled, which he won easily. The national government, nevertheless, announced that the law wouldn't be changed.

Controversies[edit]

A controversial personality, Jardim is usually seen as an outspoken populist, who is infamous for his often outspoken remarks about his political opponents, from left to right, including several journalists. He has been compared to politicians like Jean-Marie Le Pen and Hugo Chávez. This has led to both controversies and formal accusations.[1]

As Madeira's democratically elected political leader for over 30 years, he has many supporters who view him as a responsible and proactive governor, particularly well regarded in the Archipelago of Madeira proper. Despite his confrontational, explosive and sometimes impolite personality, Jardim has claimed many benefits and privileges for Madeira, helping the region to improve in several fields throughout the years it has been under his leadership.

However, the European Union assistance to its ultra-peripheral regions, which includes the Portuguese archipelago of Madeira, has played a major role in the region's development - Madeira's development has been massively aided by structural and cohesion funds allocated by the European Union to the regional government.[2]

In addition, Jardim's government of the autonomous region was financially supported, decade across decade, by massive public debt creation and wild over-expenditure.[3] An even more surprising scandal was reported in September 16, 2011, when Portugal's central bank said Madeira island had under-reported its debt since 2004, putting further pressure on the country to meet deficit targets under an international bailout. An evaluation conducted by the Bank of Portugal of Madeira's accounts showed it failed to report EUR1.1 billion ($1.53 billion) in debt from 2008 to 2010 alone. The Bank of Portugal called the omission "grave," adding it doesn't know of any similar cases in the rest of the country.[4]

His name has been often associated with FLAMA, the defunct archipelago's far-right separatist organization that undertook 70 bombings in Madeira between 1975 and 1978. Although no FLAMA activists were ever brought to justice, Alberto João Jardim has often supported their cause, stating that "they should receive a reward not a punishment, since they're defenders of democracy and of the homeland".[5]

Other affiliations[edit]

  • He was a fan of C.S. Marítimo, a sports club from Funchal. In 1997 he tried to join together the three biggest teams from Funchal in one unified and governmental team. Then the popular Marítimo’s supporters denied that intention in a big demonstration. After that he has been seen on the Nacional side. He will be the president of the commemorations of the 100 years of Nacional.
  • Invited Professor of the Universidade Independente, a Private University in Lisbon.

Decorations[edit]

Published books[edit]

  • Tribuna Livre (3 vols.)
  • Pela Autonomia e o Desenvolvimento Integral (2 vols.)
  • A Experiência da Autonomia Regional da Madeira
  • Regionalização, Europa, Estado e Poder Local

References[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Jaime Ornelas Camacho
President of the Regional Government of Madeira
1978–present
Incumbent