President of Portugal
|President of the
|Term length||Five years; maximum two consecutive terms.|
|Inaugural holder||Manuel de Arriaga|
|Formation||5 October 1910|
|This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
The Portuguese Third Republic is a semi-presidential system. Unlike many other European presidents, the Portuguese President is quite powerful. Although it is the Prime Minister of Portugal and parliament that oversee much of the nation's actual day-to-day affairs, the Portuguese President wields significant influence and authority, especially in the fields of national security and foreign policy. The president holds the nation's most senior office, and outranks all other politicians.
The President's greatest power is his/her ability to choose the Prime Minister. However, since the Assembly of the Republic has the sole power to dismiss the Prime Minister's government, the Prime Minister named by the President must have the confidence of the majority of the representatives in the assembly, otherwise it may face a vote of no confidence. The President has the discretionary power to dissolve Parliament when he sees fit (colloquially known as the "atomic bomb" in Portugal), and President Sampaio made use of this prerogative in late 2004 to remove the controversial government of Pedro Santana Lopes, despite the absolute majority of MPs supporting the government.
Prior to the Carnation Revolution, the powers of the presidency varied widely; some presidents were virtual dictators (such as Pais, and Carmona in his early years), while others were little more than figureheads (such as Carmona in his later years, Craveiro Lopes, and Américo Thomaz; during their administrations, supreme power was held by Prime Minister António de Oliveira Salazar).
The constitution grants the following powers to the president:
The President exercises the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces and Grand Master of the Three Orders and shall appoint and remove, at the proposal of the Government, the Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces and the Military Staff Heads of the three branches the Armed Forces. The president can dissolve the Assembly of the Republic, which implies the need to call for new legislative elections and after the implementation of these, the resignation of the government.
The President appoints the Prime Minister given the election results and appoints the other members of the Government by proposal of the Prime Minister. It can, however, dismiss the Government when this is necessary to ensure the smooth functioning of democratic institutions. Even the government bodies of the autonomous regions may be dissolved by the President, by committing serious acts contrary to the Constitution.
The President declares a state of siege and emergency consultation with the Government and with permission of Parliament.
At the proposal of the Government and with the authorization of Parliament, the President can declare war in the event of actual or imminent aggression and make peace.
The President promulgates or vetoes the promulgation of signing laws, decree-laws, regulatory decrees and other decrees of the Government.
In the area of its powers in international relations, the President of the Republic ratifies international treaties.
The President decides on the referendum whose task is put to him by Parliament.
The President of the Republic may request the Constitutional Court prior review of the constitutionality of the norms of international agreements or decrees that you have been sent for promulgation as an organic law, law or ordinance.
The President shall appoint and remove, in some cases a proposal from the Government, holders of important state organs such as the Republic of Representatives for the autonomous regions, the President of the Court and the Attorney General, five members of the Council of State and two members of the Supreme Judicial Council.
The president appoints ambassadors and special envoys, following proposal by the Government, and believe the foreign diplomatic representatives.
The President of the Republic after consultation with the Government, pardons and commute sentences.
Under the Portuguese Constitution adopted in 1976, in the wake of the 1974 Carnation Revolution, the President is elected to a five-year term; there is no limit to the number of terms a president may serve, but a president who serves two consecutive terms may not serve again in the next five years after the second term finishes or in the following five years after his resignation. The official residence of the Portuguese President is the Belém Palace.
The President is elected in a two-round system: if no candidate reaches 50% of the votes during the first round, the two candidates with the most votes face each other in a second round held two weeks later. However, the second round has only been needed once, during the 1986 presidential election. To date, all of the elected presidents since the Carnation Revolution have served for two consecutive terms, and presidents consistently rank as the most popular political figure in the country. Recently, however, the popularity of the current president Cavaco Silva has plummeted, making him the second-least popular political figure in the country, just above the Prime Minister, and the first Portuguese President after 1974 to have a negative popularity.
If the president dies or becomes incapacitated while in office, the President of the Assembly assumes the office with restricted powers until a new president can be inaugurated following fresh elections.
2011 presidential election
|Candidates||Supporting parties||First round|
|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|
|Francisco Lopes||Portuguese Communist Party, Ecologist Party "The Greens"||301,017||7.14|
|José Manuel Coelho||New Democracy Party||189,918||4.51|
|Total (turnout 46.52%)||4,492,453|
|Source: Comissão Nacional de Eleições|
The President of Portugal often makes official state visits to other foreign countries. For a list of visits made by President Cavaco Silva see:
Living former Presidents
There are three living former Portuguese Presidents: