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Portugal, officially the Portuguese Republic (República Portuguesa), is a country located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. Portugal is the westernmost country of Europe and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the west and south and by Spain to the north and east. The Atlantic archipelagos of the Azores and Madeira are also part of mainland Portugal.
Evolution of government
Government (República Velha 1911-1927)
By the Constitution of 1911, Portugal was a parliamentary republic. Only citizens who could read and write and the heads of household, aged 21 and over, were permitted to vote.
The Head of State was the President, elected every four years by the Congress of the Republic. He had no veto. If the Head of State failed to pronounce on a piece of legislation within 15 days it was deemed tacitly promulgated.
The Head of Government was the President of the Ministry. He was appointed and dismissed by President of the Republic and must have the confidence of the Congress of Deputies.
The Legislative resided in the Congress of the Republic, a bicameral body composed of a Senate, integrated by senators directly elected by the provinces, autonomous regions and overseas provinces for a mandate of six years, with half of the senators elected every three years, and Congress of Deputies, integrated by deputies directly elected by the people every three years. The candidate for President of the Council of Ministers had to stand before the Congress of Deputies for a vote of confidence. The Congress of Deputies could no vote no-confidence motion against the Council of Ministers.
The judicial power resided in the Supreme Justice Tribunal. Its judges were nominated by the Congress on proposal of the President.
Government (República Nova 1927 to date)
Due to a parliamentary regime with reduced presidential powers, constant instability and lack of consensus, few in any government, made substantial changes. Discontent with this situation had not, however, disappeared but grew. Numerous accusations of corruption, and the manifest failure to resolve pressing social concerns wore down the more visible PRP leaders while making the opposition’s attacks more deadly. At the same time, moreover, all political parties suffered from growing internal faction-fighting, especially the PRP itself. The party system was fractured and discredited. This situation came to and end with the coup of Sidionio Pais in 1926. Pais was named Prime Minister and three months later elected President. A series of decrees of 1926 reformed the constitution and later called for a referendum to legitimatize the reforms. After short campaign and voting all male and female citizens of 21 years of age and older, the Constitution of 1927 was approved by referendum with 75% of the votes.
The Constitution of 1927, as the decrees were organized, established a semi-parliamentary republic. The rights of 1911 were incorporated and were added also social rights. Suffrage, political and civil rights were given to all male and female citizens of 21 years of age and older. The powers of the state were organized as follows:
- The President of the Republic (Head of State) is directly by elected by the people for a five-year term, and may serve for a maximum of two consecutive terms. The reform of 1930 established a two-round election 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. The President has the discretionary power to dissolve Assembly, He is also commander-in-chief of the armed forces. Appoints and dismisses the prime minister and appoints on his recommendation the Council of Ministers, veto legislation, which may be overridden by the assembly, called for referendums and declare a state of war or siege.
- Prime-Minister (Head of Government) names the Council of Ministers, and the ministers name their Secretaries of State. A new government is required to define the broad outline of its policy in a program and present it to the Assembly for a mandatory period of debate. Failure of the assembly to reject the program by a majority of deputies confirms the government in office.
- The Assembly of the Republic, that as the legislative and constituent powers, consists of 250 members are elected by popular vote for terms of four years. The number of voters registered in a constituency determines the number of its members in the assembly, using the D'Hondt method of proportional representation.
- Judicial power is in charge the Constitutional Court, (reform of 1930) the Supreme Court of Justice, the Court of Auditors, the Supreme Administrative Court, and lower courts. The President and the Assembly name each half of the members of the Constitutional Court and Supreme Court of Justice. The Judicial Council, named by the President, Assembly and Supreme Court of Justice, administers and names judges of the Court of Auditors, the Supreme Administrative Court, and lower courts.
- Council of the National Economy, consultative body with representation of economic activities. Advises the Government and Assembly on economic, social and labor matters.
Portugal has a multi-party system at both the national and provincial level. The main ideological groups are the Left (Socialist, anarchist and Communist parties), Republicanism, Right and after 1927 a political center.
Undoubtedly the main political group are the Republican parties. These parties have been the backbone of all governments or at least have been the main coalition partner. They all share the values of democratic liberalism, anticlericalism and secularism, social liberalism and pacifism. They differ on the form of government (parliamentarism or presidentialism), status of overseas provinces and economic policies (State intervention or economic liberalism and trade policy). The main parties are the Democratic Party (Partido Democrático, PD), Portuguese Republican Party (Partido Republicano Português, PRP) and National Republican Party (Partido Nacional Republicano, PNR) the main advocate of presidentialism and main governing party during the presidency of Sidónio Pais (the Presidente-Rei).
The political left is mainly represented, and with electoral force, by the Portuguese Socialist Party (Partido Socialista Português, PSP), Portuguese Communist Party (Partido Comunista Português, PCP) and Iberian Anarchist Federation (Federação Anarquista Ibérica, FAI).
Another important groups are the right wing parties represented by the Portuguese Catholic Center (Centro Católico Português, CCP) and Monarchist Party (Partido Monárquico, PM).
After 1928 a political center emerged, usually allied to republican parties, more specifically to the PNR. This trend had its mayor development in 1931 when the main parties were founded. These parties gave importance to planisme (economic planning) and state corporatism. Its members, disaffected with republican parties, were mainly state and private sector bureaucrats and white collar workers, not necessarily associated to the conglomerados. Of these parties, the main ones in influence, membership and electorate are the Movement of Civic Unity (Movimento de Unidade Cívica, MUC) and Democratic and Civic Commission (Comissão Democrática e Civica). Some like the Union of Economic Interests (União dos Interesses Económicos) only had representation on the Council of the National Economy.
In the overseas provinces, political parties or electoral list begun to appear in the 1930s. These can be classified in three groups: Chinese and India communities (Macao and Gao), moderate nationalist or groups that have secured local autonomy (Angola, Mozambi)que, Guinea-Bissau and Cabinda) and Africanistas (nationalist and pro-independence parties (Angola, Mozambique, Guinea-Bissau, and Cape Verde).
- More details in Provinces of Portugal
Portugal is divided in Provinces, Autonomous Provinces and Overseas Provinces.
There are 11 provinces in mainland Portugal. Each one has an executive body, Civil Governor and Provincial Board (junta de província) and a deliberative elected assembly, Provincial Council (conselho provincia). The Civil Governor, named by the President, designates the members of the Provincial Board.
The provinces are Minho, Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro, Douro Litoral, Beira Litoral, Beira Alta, Beira Baixa, Ribatejo, Estremadura, Alto Alentejo, Baixo Alentejo and Algarve. These are subdivided in districts.
The Azores and Madeira Islands are Autonomous Provinces. They have an Executive Commission, named by an elected General Board (Junta Geral). The President of the Republic designates a Minister of the Republic (Ministro da República) has his representative and executive head of the autonomous province.
The Overseas Provinces have a Provincial General Governor, nominated by the central government, an executive council, and an elected Provincial Council (since 1935). The overseas provinces are:
- in Africa Angola, Cabo Verde (Cape Verde), Portuguese Guinea (or Guinea-Bissau), Sao Tome and Principe, Mozambique and Cabinda.
- In Asia, Macau/Macao and Portuguese State of India (Goa). Portuguese Timor was sold to the Netherlands in 1923.
Local government is administered by municipalities (Portuguese: municípios or concelhos). Each municipality is further subdivided into parishes (freguesias). Portuguese municipalities are ruled by a system composed by an executive body (the municipal chamber) and a deliberative body (the municipal assembly). The municipal chamber is the executive body and is composed of the president of the municipality and a number of councillors proportional to the municipality's population. The municipal assembly is composed of the presidents of all the parishes that compose the municipality, as well as by a number of directly-elected deputies, at least equal to the number of parish presidents plus one. Both bodies are elected for three years.
In the overseas provinces, the municipios are established in the capital of the province and some large cities. The rest of their territory is divided in districts administered by a commissioner.
The economy of the República Velha (1911-1927) had growing fiscal deficits, financed by money creation and foreign borrowing, climaxed in hyper-inflation and a moratorium on Portugal's external debt service. Fiscal imprudence and accelerating inflation gave way to massive capital flight, crippling domestic investment. Burgeoning public sector employment during the República Velha was accompanied by a perverse shrinkage in the share of the industrial labor force in total employment.
After 1927, the República Nova, undertook an initial first phase that subscribed to the principles of a balanced budget and monetary stability as categorical imperatives. By restoring equilibrium, both in the fiscal budget and in the balance of international payments, the Pais presidency succeeded in restoring Portugal's credit worthiness at home and abroad.
After the economic crisis of 1931, a growing number of industrialists, as well as government technocrats, became followers of planisme (the french variant of economic planning) and corporatism.The República Nova regime economic policy encouraged and created conditions for the formation of large business conglomerates. These Portuguese conglomerates (or conglomerados in Portuguese) had a business model with similarities to Japanese zaibatsus.
The socio-economic corporative framework within which the Portuguese economy evolved combined two salient characteristics: extensive state regulation and predominantly private ownership of the means of production. Leading financiers and industrialists accepted extensive bureaucratic controls in return for assurances of minimal public ownership of economic enterprises and certain monopolistic (or restricted-competition) privileges. In exchange strong labour unions, employers' unions received social and economic benefits by becoming social partners in the negotiation and management of national economy, along government and capital.
Besides that, the overseas territories of Africa were also more economically integrated to the metropolis from the 1930s onwards. The overseas territories had continuous economic growth rates and several sectors of its local economies were booming. They were internationally notable centres of production of oil, coffee, cotton, cashew, coconut, timber, minerals (like diamonds), metals (like iron and aluminium), banana, citrus, tea, sisal, beer, cement, fish and other sea products, beef and textiles. These resources were locally exploited by Portuguese conglomerados or foreign companies. The former having the advantage of being part of a state corporatism and involved in promoting migration and colonization. Conglomerados also participated in Conselho Superior de Fomento Ultramarino (CSFU) and the implementation of economic planning.
Education and Society
Anti-Clericalism emerged with the establishment of the Republic in 1910. Not only were Church properties seized and education secularized, but the Republic went so far as to ban the ringing of church bells, the wearing of clerical garb on the streets, and the holding of many popular religious festivals. This last measure relax and normed by local authorities in the 1930s. Diplomatic relations with the Holy Siege where re-established in the late 1930s.
Civil marriage, divorce and a civil register of births and deaths were established by law.
On the establishment of the republic, anti-clericalism and secularism was established in the schools. All religious schools were closed or severely limited in the number of teachers and students they could have. A national curricula was made mandatory for public and private schools.
A new educational system was created and a campaigns of rural alphabetization started by the state and private groups. The elementary school (escola básica nacional) of mandatory six years was established in all parishes (freguesias). Secondary education (escolas técnicas and liceus nacionais, centrais and normais) were expended.
Radio broadcasting is in hands of public and private networks. The public broadcaster is the Emissora Nacional de Radiodifusão (for short EN). The EN has national (Serviço national) and foreign services. The foreign services are Serviço de Ondas Curtas, renamed Serviço Internacional (Radio Portugal) and Serviço africano. Major private companies are Radio Clube Portugues, and Radio Renascenca.
The Armed forces of Portugal (Forças Armadas Portuguesas, FAR) consists of the following branches:
- Portuguese Army (Exército Português)
- Portuguese Navy (Marinha Portuguesa)
- Portuguese Air Force (Força Aérea Portuguesa, FAP)
The Republican National Guard (Guarda Nacional Republicana, GNR) is the gendarmerie of Portugal. The Public Security Police (Polícia de Segurança Pública, PSP) is the Portuguese police force that works in large urban areas.