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Portugal: Political structure


Form of state

Parliamentary republic, based on constitution of 1976, amended most recently in 2004


National legislature

Unicameral Assembleia da Republica (parliament) of 230 members, who are elected for a maximum term of four years

Electoral system

Universal direct suffrage from the age of 18; the d'Hondt system of proportional representation is used in 20 multimember constituencies

National elections

Last general (legislative) election took place on February 20th 2005. For constitutional reasons, the current legislature will last four-and-a-half years, and consequently, the next legislative election must take place no later than November 2009. Local elections took place on October 9th 2005; the next local elections will take place in 2009

Head of state

President, directly elected for a maximum of two consecutive five-year terms; currently Anibal Cavaco Silva (independent, but formerly of the PSD), who was elected on January 22nd 2006, replacing the outgoing president, Jorge Sampaio (PS). Next presidential election will take place in January 2011

National government

Council of Ministers, led by the prime minister, who is appointed by the president; the legislative programme must be approved by the Assembleia da Republica.

At the February 2005 election the PS won an absolute majority of seats in parliament, with 121 seats out of 230. On March 12th 2005 Jose Socrates, the leader of the PS, was sworn in as prime minister by the president

Main political parties

Socialist Party (PS, 121 seats in parliament); Social Democratic Party (PSD, 75 seats); Portuguese Communist Party/Green Ecologist Party (Coligacao Democratica Unitaria, CDU, 14 seats); Popular Party (PP, 12 seats); Left Block (BE, 8 seats)