Aníbal Cavaco Silva

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Aníbal Cavaco Silva
A. Cavaco Silva (cropped).png
Cavaco Silva in 2014
19th President of Portugal
In office
9 March 2006 – 9 March 2016
Prime MinisterJosé Sócrates
Pedro Passos Coelho
António Costa
Preceded byJorge Sampaio
Succeeded byMarcelo Rebelo de Sousa
Prime Minister of Portugal
In office
6 November 1985 – 28 October 1995
PresidentAntónio Ramalho Eanes
Mário Soares
DeputyEurico de Melo
Preceded byMário Soares
Succeeded byAntónio Guterres
President of the Social Democratic Party
In office
19 May 1985 – 19 February 1995
Secretary-GeneralManuel Dias Loureiro
José Falcão e Cunha
José Nunes Liberato
Preceded byRui Machete
Succeeded byFernando Nogueira
Minister of Finance and Planning
In office
3 January 1980 – 9 January 1981
Prime MinisterFrancisco Sá Carneiro
Preceded byAntónio de Sousa Franco
Carlos Corrêa Gago
Succeeded byJoão Morais Leitão
Personal details
Aníbal António Cavaco Silva

(1939-07-15) 15 July 1939 (age 83)
Boliqueime, Portugal
Political partySocial Democratic Party
(m. 1963)
Alma materTechnical University of Lisbon
Alcuin College, York
WebsiteOfficial website

Aníbal António Cavaco Silva, GCC, GColL, GColIH (Portuguese pronunciation: [ɐˈniβɐl ɐ̃ˈtɔni.u kɐˈvaku ˈsilvɐ]; born 15 July 1939) is a Portuguese economist who served as the 19th president of Portugal, in office from 9 March 2006 to 9 March 2016. He had been previously prime minister of Portugal from 6 November 1985 to 28 October 1995. His 10-year tenure was the longest of any prime minister since António de Oliveira Salazar, and he was the first Portuguese prime minister to win an absolute parliamentary majority under the current constitutional system. He is best known for leading Portugal into the European Union.

Early life and career[edit]

Aníbal António Cavaco Silva was born in Boliqueime, Loulé, Algarve.[1] He was initially an undistinguished student. As a 12-year-old, he flunked at the 3rd grade of the Commercial School, and his grandfather put him working on the farm as a punishment.[2] After returning to school, Cavaco Silva went on to become an accomplished student. Cavaco Silva then went to Lisbon, where he took a vocational education course in accounting from "Instituto Comercial de Lisboa" (Instituto Superior de Contabilidade e Administração de Lisboa (ISCAL), today) in 1959. In parallel, he was admitted for university education at the Instituto Superior de Ciências Económicas e Financeiras de Lisboa (ISCEF) of the Technical University of Lisbon (UTL) (currently the Instituto Superior de Economia e Gestão (ISEG) of the University of Lisbon), and obtained in 1963, with distinction, a degree in economics and finance (he scored a mark of 16 out of 20). While studying in Lisbon, Cavaco Silva was an athlete of CDUL athletics department from 1958 to 1963. Between 1963 and 1964, he was drafted into the Portuguese Army Artillery for compulsory 11 month military service, serving in a battalion in Lourenco Marques in Portuguese Mozambique[3] Cavaco Silva studied a graduate course at the University of York in England.[1]

Returning to Portugal, he took up a post as assistant professor in ISCEF (1974), professor at the Catholic University of Portugal (1975), extraordinary professor at the New University of Lisbon (1979) and finally director of the Office of Studies of the Bank of Portugal.[4]

Cavaco Silva has published several academic works in economics, including in subfields like monetary policy and monetary unions. He received an Honorary Doctorate from Scotland's Heriot-Watt University in 2009 [5]

Political career[edit]

Early years[edit]

Cavaco Silva joined the Social Democratic Party in 1974 and became the party leader in 1985.[1]

Prime minister[edit]

The 1985 legislative election was complicated by the arrival of a new political party, the Democratic Renewal Party (PRD), which had been formed by the supporters of the President, António Ramalho Eanes. In the 250-member Assembly of the Republic, the nation's legislature, the PRD won 45 seats – at the expense of every party except Cavaco Silva's PSD. Despite winning less than 30 percent of the popular vote, the PSD was the only traditional political party not to suffer substantial losses. Its 88 seats, in fact, represented a gain of 13 over the previous election. Accordingly, Cavaco Silva became prime minister on 6 November 1985.

Cavaco Silva headed a minority government. On most issues, his Social Democrats could rely on the 22 votes of the Social and Democratic Center Party (CDS), but the two parties' combined 110 votes fell 16 short of a parliamentary majority. The Socialists and Communists held 57 and 38 seats respectively; Cavaco Silva could govern if the 45 members of the PRD, who held the balance of power, abstained.

According to a contemporary report in The New York Times, Cavaco Silva's first government presided over an "economic boom". The article described him as "pro-American" and committed to the European Community.[1]

Prime Minister Cavaco Silva meeting with U.S. president Ronald Reagan at the White House, 1988

In 1987, the PRD withdrew its tacit support, and a parliamentary vote of no confidence forced President Mário Soares to call an early election. Cavaco Silva's Social Democrats captured 50.2 percent of the popular vote and 148 of the 250 seats in the legislature. Far behind were the Socialists, with only 60 seats, and the Communists, with 31. The CDS and the PRD were virtually wiped out, left with only four and seven seats, respectively. This was the first time since the 1974 revolution that a single party had won an outright majority in the national parliament.[6] At the time, it was also the largest majority that a Portuguese party had ever won in a free election.

Although the occurrence of economic growth and a public debt relatively well-contained as a result of the number of civil servants was increased from 485,368 in 1988 to 509,732 in 1991, which was a much lower increase than that which took place in the following years until 2011 marked by irrational and unsustainable State employment, from 1988 to 1993, during the government cabinets led by Cavaco Silva, the Portuguese economy was radically changed. As a result, there was a sharp and rapid decrease in the output of tradable goods and a rise of the importance of the non-tradable goods sector in the Portuguese economy.[7]

In the 1991 election Cavaco Silva's party had a majority even larger (50.6 percent) than the one of four years earlier. He decided not to contest the 1995 election, and the PSD, lacking a leader of his stature, lost 48 seats and the election.


Cavaco Silva contested the 1996 presidential election, but was defeated by the Mayor of Lisbon, Jorge Sampaio, the Socialist candidate. Retiring from politics, he served for several years as an advisor to the board of the Banco de Portugal (Bank of Portugal), but retired from this position in 2004. He then became a full professor at the School of Economics and Management of the Catholic University of Portugal, where he taught the undergraduate and MBA programs.

He is a member of the Club of Madrid[8] and an honorary member of the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation.

President of the Republic[edit]

President Cavaco Silva meets the president of Brazil, Lula da Silva, in 2007.

On 20 October 2005, Cavaco Silva announced his candidacy for the 2006 presidential election. He was elected President of the Republic on 22 January 2006 with 50.6% of votes cast, avoiding a run-off. He is the first elected center-right president in Portugal since 1974. He is also the second former prime minister to be elected president, after Mário Soares.

He was sworn-in on 9 March 2006. He is also the president of the Portuguese Council of State.

Cavaco Silva's term was initially marked by a mutual understanding with the government led by Socialist José Sócrates, which he referred to as "strategic co-operation".

The most controversial moment of his presidency was when the Assembly of the Republic passed a bill for the holding of a pre-legislative referendum on the legalization of abortion in Portugal without any restrictions in the 10 first weeks of pregnancy. After the parliamentary approval of the bill summoning the referendum, Cavaco Silva referred the matter to the Portuguese Constitutional Court, which declared both the proposed legalization and the referendum constitutional by a narrow 7-6 margin. Cavaco Silva, who could still have vetoed the referendum bill, decided to sign it into law, and thus allowed the referendum. The majority of the Portuguese electorate abstained from the referendum, but the vote for legalization prevailed among those who chose to cast their ballot.

Cavaco Silva was reelected president of Portugal on 23 January 2011 with 52,92% of the vote, and he took office for his second five-year term on 9 March 2011.

2015 constitutional crisis[edit]

At the general election on 4 October 2015 to the Assembly of the Republic, the unicameral Portuguese parliament, the right-wing government of Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho lost its majority, with center-left and far-left opposition parties gaining more than half of the seats. As Passos Coelho's own Social Democratic Party remained the largest in parliament, and still had the support of the much smaller CDS – People's Party, Cavaco Silva allowed Passos Coelho to continue as prime minister, giving him the first chance to form a new government. Passos Coelho was unable to find any new partners and was widely expected to stand down, but on 22 October Cavaco Silva invited him to form a new government, even if it were a minority government. On 24 October Cavaco Silva explained his thinking:[9]

In 40 years of democracy, no government in Portugal has ever depended on the support of anti-European forces, that is to say forces that campaigned to abrogate the Lisbon Treaty, the Fiscal Compact, the Growth and Stability Pact, as well as to dismantle monetary union and take Portugal out of the euro, in addition to wanting the dissolution of NATO.[9]

Antonio Costa, leader of the Socialist Party, called this a grave mistake and added "It is unacceptable to usurp the exclusive powers of parliament. The Socialists will not take lessons from Professor Cavaco Silva on the defence of our democracy." The Green politician Rui Tavares commented "The president has created a constitutional crisis. He is saying that he will never allow the formation of a government containing Leftists and Communists. People are amazed by what has happened." The opposition parties quickly announced their intention of bringing down the new government in a motion of rejection.[9]

Eventually, Passos Coelho's government fell on a motion of no confidence, and the president appointed Antonio Costa, the leader of the Socialists, as prime minister in his place.[10]


Cavaco Silva married Maria Alves da Silva at the Church of the Monastery of São Vicente de Fora, São Vicente de Fora, Lisbon, on 20 October 1963. The couple had a daughter Patricia, and a son Bruno.[1] He has five grandchildren, four of whom were born to his daughter.[11] One of them, António Montez, is a professional footballer.[12]

His brother, Rogério Cavaco Silva, is a businessman and a victim of the Dominion of Melchizedek scam.[13][14][15][16]

Awards and decorations[edit]

National honours[edit]


Foreign honours[edit]


State visits[edit]

Foreign trips of Cavaco Silva.

Cavaco Silva made state visits to countries in Europe, Africa, Asia and the Americas. In September 2006, on his first state visit, he visited Portugal's neighbour, Spain.[19][20]

Electoral results[edit]

Cavaco during his 2011 visit to the U.S.; pictured with John Chambers (CEO) and Helder Antunes.

1996 Portuguese presidential election[edit]

Aníbal Cavaco Silva finished second with 2,595,131 votes (46.09%).[21]

2006 Portuguese presidential election[edit]

Aníbal Cavaco Silva won the election with 2,773,431 votes (50.54%).[22]

2011 Portuguese presidential election[edit]

Aníbal Cavaco Silva won the election with 2,231,956 votes (52.95%).[23]


  • Cavaco Silva, Autobiografia Política, in 2 Vols.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e Delaney, Paul (21 July 1987). "MAN IN THE NEWS: ANIBAL CAVACO SILVA; The Runaway Winner in Portugal". The New York Times. Retrieved 4 January 2022.
  2. ^ (in Portuguese) Perfil de Cavaco Silva[permanent dead link],
  3. ^ (in Portuguese) Ás nas barreiras, Record
  4. ^ Cavaco Silva – Perfil, source Agência Lusa; website UOL (January 2006)
  5. ^ "Honorary Graduates 2009" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2009-08-16.
  6. ^ David B. Goldey, "The Portuguese elections of 1987 and 1991 and the presidential election of 1991." Electoral Studies 11.2 (1992): 171-176.
  7. ^ (in Portuguese) Maior queda nos bens e serviços transaccionáveis aconteceu entre 1988 e 1993, TSF (December 27, 2012)
  8. ^ (in English) The Club of Madrid is an independent organization dedicated to strengthening democracy around the world by drawing on the unique experience and resources of its Members – 66 democratic former heads of state and government
  9. ^ a b c Eurozone crosses Rubicon as Portugal's anti-euro Left banned from power] in The Daily Telegraph dated 24 October 2015, online at, accessed 25 October 2015
  10. ^ Lisbon, Agence France-Presse in (25 November 2015). "Portugal gets Antonio Costa as new PM after election winner only lasted 11 days". the Guardian.
  11. ^ "Já nasceu o quinto neto de Maria e Aníbal Cavaco Silva" [Maria and Aníbal Cavaco Silva's fifth grandchild has just been born] (in Portuguese). Caras. 14 January 2009. Retrieved 4 January 2022.
  12. ^ "Neto de Cavaco Silva chamado: António Montez deve jogar contra o Benfica" [Cavaco Silva's grandchild called up: António Montez must play against Benfica]. Record (in Portuguese). 27 November 2021. Retrieved 4 January 2022.
  13. ^ "Tribunal da Relação anula julgamento de burla com empresas 'off-shore'" [Appeals court voids swindle trial involving 'off-shore' companies]. Público (in Portuguese). Lisbon. Lusa. October 27, 2002. Retrieved March 25, 2017.
  14. ^ Gomes, Adelino (November 14, 2005). "Burla que vitimou irmão de Cavaco Silva regressa hoje a tribunal" [Swindle that victimized Cavaco Silva's brother comes back to court today]. Público (in Portuguese). Lisbon. Retrieved March 25, 2017.
  15. ^ "Burlaram 50 em 5 milhões" [[They] conned 50 [people] in 5 million [euros]]. Correio da Manhã (in Portuguese). Lisbon. May 5, 2006. Retrieved March 25, 2017.
  16. ^ "'Só quero ver se recebo o meu dinheiro'" [I just want to see if I get my money back]. Região da Nazaré (in Portuguese). Nazaré. May 22, 2006. Retrieved March 25, 2017.
  17. ^ "Entidades nacionais agraciadas com ordens portuguesas" [National entities honoured with Portuguese orders] (in Portuguese). Presidencia de Portugal. Retrieved 29 September 2021.
  18. ^ "Entidades nacionais agraciadas com ordens estrangeiras" [National entities honoured with foreign orders] (in Portuguese). Presidencia de Portugal. Retrieved 29 September 2021.
  19. ^ Francisco, Susete. "Presidente visita Espanha em Setembro" [President visits Spain in September]. Diário de Notícias (in Portuguese). Retrieved 9 November 2015.
  20. ^ "Cavaco quatro dias em Espanha" [Cavaco four days in Spain]. Jornal de Notícias (in Portuguese). 2 September 2006. Retrieved 4 January 2022.
  21. ^ Comissão Nacional de Eleições (1996)
  22. ^ Comissão Nacional de Eleições (2006)
  23. ^ Comissão Nacional de Eleições (2011)
Party political offices
Preceded by President of the Social Democratic Party
Succeeded by
Political offices
Preceded byas Minister of Finance Minister of Finance and Planning
Succeeded by
Preceded byas Minister of Planning
Preceded by Prime Minister of Portugal
Succeeded by
Preceded by President of the European Council
Succeeded by
Preceded by President of Portugal
Succeeded by