Jorge Sampaio

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Jorge Sampaio

Jorge Sampaio, Former President of Portugal, on Mandela's legacy (28239312008) (cropped).jpg
Sampaio speaking at the Horasis Global Meeting; Portuguese Riviera, 2018.
President of Portugal
In office
9 March 1996 – 9 March 2006
Prime MinisterAntónio Guterres
José Manuel Barroso
Pedro Santana Lopes
José Sócrates
Preceded byMário Soares
Succeeded byAníbal Cavaco Silva
High-Representative for the Alliance of Civilizations
In office
1 April 2007 – 1 March 2013
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded byNassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser
Mayor of Lisbon
In office
22 January 1990 – 15 November 1995
Preceded byNuno Krus Abecassis
Succeeded byJoão Soares
Secretary-General of the Socialist Party
In office
15 January 1989 – 23 February 1992
Preceded byVítor Constâncio
Succeeded byAntónio Guterres
Leader of the Opposition
In office
6 November 1988 – 23 February 1992
Prime MinisterAníbal Cavaco Silva
Preceded byVítor Constâncio
Succeeded byAntónio Guterres
Personal details
Jorge Fernando Branco de Sampaio

(1939-09-18) 18 September 1939 (age 81)
Lisbon, Portugal
Political partySocialist Party
Spouse(s)Maria José Rodrigues Ritta
ChildrenVera Ritta de Sampaio
André Ritta de Sampaio
Alma materUniversity of Lisbon

Jorge Fernando Branco de Sampaio, GColTE, GCIH, GColL (Portuguese pronunciation: [ˈʒɔɾʒ(ɨ) sɐ̃ˈpaju] (About this soundlisten)) (born 18 September 1939) is a Portuguese lawyer and politician who was the 18th President of Portugal from 1996 to 2006.

Early life and political career[edit]

Sampaio was born in Lisbon on 18 September 1939. The Sampaio family lived abroad in the United States and the United Kingdom for some years, due to the professional activity of his father Arnaldo de Sampaio (1908–1984), a physician. His mother was Fernanda Bensaúde Branco (1908 – 15 February 2000). His maternal grandmother Sara Bensliman Bensaúde, who died in 1976, was a Sephardi Jew from Morocco of Portuguese origin, and his maternal grandfather Fernando Branco (1880–1940) was a naval officer of the Portuguese Navy and later the Foreign Minister of Portugal. Sampaio himself is agnostic, and does not consider himself a Jew.[1] His brother is the teenage-psychiatrist and writer Daniel Sampaio [pt].

He attended the American School of Lisbon as a child.[2] He started his political career as college student of the Faculty of Law of the University of Lisbon. Sampaio was involved in student resistance against the fascist Estado Novo regime and led the Lisbon students union between 1960 and 1961. Following his graduation in 1961, Sampaio started a career as a lawyer, often defending political prisoners.

Sampaio's first wife was a physician named Karin Schmidt Dias, daughter of António Jorge Dias (Porto, 31 July 1907 – Lisbon, 5 February 1973) and Margot Schmidt. The couple had no issue and later divorced. He later married Maria José Rodrigues Ritta (b. Lisbon, 19 December 1941), daughter of José António Ritta and wife Maria José Rodrigues Xavier and sister of Maria Ermelinda and José António. Sampaio and his second wife had two children: Vera Ritta de Sampaio (b. 1977) and André Ritta de Sampaio (b. 1981).

After the Carnation Revolution of 25 April 1974, Sampaio founded the Movimento de Esquerda Socialista (MES) (Portuguese acronym for Socialist Left Movement) but abandoned the political project soon after. In 1978 he joined the Socialist Party, where he has been associated with the party's left wing.[3] He was first elected to Parliament as a deputy for Lisbon in 1979. Between 1979 and 1984 he was a member of the European Commission for Human Rights, where he developed important work on these topics. Between 1986 and 1987 he was president of the parliamentary bench of the Socialist Party. In 1989 he was elected president of this political group, an office he held until 1991. Also in 1989, Sampaio was elected the 62nd Mayor of Lisbon, a charge he took in 1990, and was re-elected in 1993, remaining in office until 1995.


In 1995, Jorge Sampaio announced his wish to run for the presidency of the Republic. He won the election of 14 January 1996 in the first round against former Prime Minister Aníbal Cavaco Silva and became President on 9 March. After a non-controversial first mandate, he was re-elected as President on 14 January 2001.

As President, Sampaio's actions were focused on social and cultural affairs. In the international political scene, he oversaw the transfer of Macao's sovereignty to China in December 1999 and he also gave important publicity to the cause of East Timor's independence. In October 2003, he invited the presidents of Finland, Germany, as well as of soon-to-be EU members Hungary, Latvia and Poland to Arraiolos in order to discuss the consequences of the 2004 enlargement of the European Union and plans for a Constitution for Europe.[4] Such conventions of non-executive presidents of EU member states have become a regular event, and have been dubbed Arraiolos meetings.

It is generally considered that Sampaio's presidency were marked by a firm sense of prudence and moderation, an approach which earned him a remarkably uneventful first term in office. In 2004, however, his refusal to hold early elections following Social Democratic Prime Minister José Manuel Durão Barroso's resignation met with vigorous protest from all left-wing parties and even led to the stepping down of Socialist leader Eduardo Ferro Rodrigues. Sampaio made this decision to ensure political stability at a time when the country was facing economic recession, and he appointed Pedro Santana Lopes as Prime Minister. However, only four months afterwards, on 30 November, Sampaio concluded that the new cabinet was not achieving the desired stability, but quite the opposite, and he therefore dissolved the Parliament, calling new elections for February 2005.

On 24 February 2005, Sampaio called on José Sócrates, as the nation's next prime minister, to form a government.

Sampaio's successor was chosen in the presidential election held on 22 January 2006. Aníbal Cavaco Silva, the man he defeated in 1996, succeeded Sampaio on 9 March 2006.

As a former President, Sampaio is a Member of the Portuguese Council of State. He is also a member of the Club of Madrid,[5] an independent non-profit organization composed of 81 democratic former presidents and Prime Ministers from 57 different countries.

Jorge Sampaio is also known for supporting bullfights.[citation needed] Although the Portuguese law does not allow bullfights ending with the death of the bull in the arena, Jorge Sampaio was able to promote an exception to this law for Barrancos in the Alentejo province.

Electoral results[edit]

1996 Portuguese presidential election[edit]

e • d Summary of the 14 January 1996 Portuguese presidential election results
Candidates Supporting parties First round
Votes %
Jorge Sampaio Socialist Party 3,035,056 53.91
Aníbal Cavaco Silva Social Democratic Party, People's Party 2,595,131 46.09
Jerónimo de Sousa[A] Portuguese Communist Party, Ecologist Party "The Greens" left the race
Alberto Matos[B] People's Democratic Union left the race
Total valid 5,630,187 100.00
Blank ballots 69,328 1.20
Invalid ballots 63,463 1.10
Total (turnout 66.29%) 5,762,978
A B Both candidates left the race in favour of Jorge Sampaio.
Source: Comissão Nacional de Eleições
Vote share 1st Round
Jorge Sampaio
Aníbal Cavaco Silva

2001 Portuguese presidential election[edit]

e • d Summary of the 14 January 2001 Portuguese presidential election results
Candidates Supporting parties First round
Votes %
Jorge Sampaio Socialist Party 2,401,015 55.55
Ferreira do Amaral Social Democratic Party, People's Party 1,498,948 34.68
António Abreu Portuguese Communist Party, Ecologist Party "The Greens" 223,196 5.16
Fernando Rosas Left Bloc 129,840 3.00
António Garcia Pereira Portuguese Workers' Communist Party 68,900 1.59
Total valid 4,321,899 100.00
Blank ballots 82,391 1.85
Invalid ballots 45,510 1.02
Total (turnout 49.71%) 4,449,800
Source: Comissão Nacional de Eleições
Vote share 1st Round
Jorge Sampaio
Ferreira do Amaral
António Simões de Abreu
Fernando Rosas
António Garcia Pereira

Post-presidential career[edit]

Sampaio is a member of the Club de Madrid, an organization of more than 80 former democratic statesmen. The group works to strengthen democratic governance and leadership worldwide by drawing on the experience of its members.[6]

In May 2006, Sampaio was appointed by the United Nations Secretary-General as his first Special Envoy for the Global Plan to Stop Tuberculosis. In April 2007, current UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon designated him as High Representative for the Alliance of Civilizations, a position he held till September 2012.

In 2010, he participated in the jury for the Conflict Prevention Prize[7] awarded every year by the Fondation Chirac.

Honours and awards[edit]

In 2008, he was awarded the North-South Prize of the Council of Europe. In 2015, he was a recipient of the Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela Prize, along with Dr. Helena Ndume, in recognition for his role in the struggle for the restoration of democracy in Portugal, the pro bono defence of political prisoners, and for raising awareness of tuberculosis as UN Secretary-General’s first Special Envoy to Stop Tuberculosis.[8][9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ See Portugal´s President: ´I am proud of my Jewish ancestry´, Michael Freund, retrieved from the Jerusalem Post of 7 November 2003:

    Jerusalem Post: I understand that you have Jewish ancestry in your family. What is your personal connection to the Jewish people? Do you consider yourself to be a Jew?.

    Jorge Sampaio: My grandmother belonged to a Jewish family that came from Morocco in the beginning of the 19th century. She married a non-Jewish naval officer who later was Foreign Affairs minister. I am naturally very proud of this ancestry and of all those that I call my "favorite Jewish cousins," one of whom is the president of the Lisbon Jewish Community, as I am proud of the ancestry on my non-Jewish father's side. Personally, I am agnostic, and I do not consider myself a Jew; but I am proud, as I said, of my ancestors.

  2. ^ Publico - Daniel e Jorge Sampaio: Encontro de Irmãos
  3. ^ Costa Lobo, Marina; Magalhães, Pedro C. (2001). "The Portuguese Socialists and the Third Way" (PDF). European Consortium for Political Research. Retrieved 7 November 2016. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  4. ^ "Foreign Policy Events, 13–20 October 2003". Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Retrieved 5 October 2013.
  5. ^ The Club of Madrid is an independent non-profit organization composed of 81 democratic former presidents and Prime Ministers from 57 different countries. It constitutes the world's largest forum of former Heads of State and Government, who have come together to respond to a growing demand for support among leaders in democratic leadership, governance, crisis and post-crisis situations. All lines of work share the common goal of building functional and inclusive societies, where the leadership experience of our Members is most valuable.
  6. ^ Club de Madrid. "Jorge Sampaio – Club de Madrid". Retrieved 21 December 2015.
  7. ^ "The Jury". Fondation Chirac. Retrieved 21 December 2015.
  8. ^ Kutesa announces the winners of the United Nations Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela Prize
  9. ^ "United Nations News Centre". UN News Service Section. 22 June 2015. Retrieved 21 December 2015.
  10. ^ Spanish Official Journal website, [1] : RD 16491/2000 Knight of the Collar
  11. ^ Spanish Official Journal website, [2] : RD 11321/1996 Knight of the Collar
  12. ^ Slovak republic website, State honours : 1st Class in 2003 (click on "Holders of the Order of the 1st Class White Double Cross" to see the holders' table)
  13. ^ Lithuanian Presidency Archived 19 April 2014 at the Wayback Machine, Lithuanian Orders searching form
  14. ^ Royal website photo

External links[edit]

Assembly seats
Title jointly held Member of the Assembly of the Republic
from Lisbon

1980–1983; 1985–1987; 1991–1995
Title jointly held
Member of the Assembly of the Republic
from Santarém

Party political offices
Preceded by
Vítor Constâncio
Secretary-General of the Socialist Party
Succeeded by
António Guterres
Political offices
Preceded by
Vítor Constâncio
Leader of the Opposition
Succeeded by
António Guterres
Preceded by
Nuno Krus Abecassis
Mayor of Lisbon
Succeeded by
João Soares
Preceded by
Mário Soares
President of Portugal
Succeeded by
Aníbal Cavaco Silva
Diplomatic posts
New title High-Representative for the Alliance of Civilizations
Succeeded by
Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser