Country in SW Europe, on the Atlantic Ocean, bounded N and E by Spain.
The 1976 constitution, revised 1982, provides for a president, elected by universal suffrage for a five-year term, and a single-chamber 230-member assembly, similarly elected and serving a four-year term. The president, an active politician rather than a figurehead, appoints a prime minister who chooses the council of ministers, responsible to the assembly. A council of state, chaired by the president, acts as a supreme national advisory body. The relationship between president and prime minister is similar to the “dual executive” in France.
Portugal originated in the 11th century as a country subject to León, while the south was ruled by the Moors. It became an independent monarchy in the reign of Afonso I (1128–1185), who captured Lisbon 1147. Afonso III (1248–1279) expelled the Moors. During the 13th century the Cortes, an assembly representing nobles, clergy, and cities, began to meet and secured control of taxation. A commercial treaty with England was signed 1294, and an alliance established 1373. During the 15th century Portuguese mariners explored the African coast, opened the sea route to India (Vasco da Gama, 1497–98), and reached Brazil (Cabral, 1500), and colonists followed in the 16th century.
In 1580 Philip II of Spain seized the crown. The Portuguese rebelled against Spanish rule 1640, placed the house of Braganza on the throne, and after a long war forced Spain to recognize their independence 1668. Portugal fought as the ally of Britain in the War of the Spanish Succession. France invaded Portugal 1807–11 (see Peninsular War). A strong democratic movement developed, and after a civil war 1828–34, constitutional government was established.
Carlos I was assassinated 1908; his son Manuel II was driven from the country by a revolution 1910, and a republic was proclaimed. Portugal remained economically weak and corrupt until the start of the dictatorship of Dr António de Oliveira Salazar, prime minister from 1928. Social conditions were improved at the cost of personal liberties. Salazar was succeeded as prime minister 1968 by Dr Marcello Caetano, who proved unable to liberalize the political system or deal with the costly wars in Portugal's colonies of Angola and Mozambique.
Criticisms of his administration led to a military coup April 1974 to “save the nation from government”. The Junta of National Salvation was set up, headed by General António Ribeiro de Spínola. He became president a month later, with a military colleague replacing the civilian prime minister. After disagreements within the junta, Spínola resigned Sept 1974 and was replaced by General Francisco da Costa Gomes. In 1975 there was a swing to the left among the military and President Gomes narrowly avoided a communist coup by collaborating with the leader of the moderate Socialist Party (PS), Mario Soares.
In 1976 Portugal's first free assembly elections in 50 years were held. The PS won 36% of the vote, and Soares formed a minority government. The army chief, General António Ramalho Eanes, won the presidency, with the support of center and left-of-center parties. After surviving precariously for over two years, Soares resigned 1978. A period of political instability followed, with five prime ministers in two and a half years, until, in Dec 1980, President Eanes invited Dr Francisco Balsemăo, a cofounder of the Social Democratic Party (PSD), to form a center-party coalition.
Dr Balsemăo survived many challenges to his leadership, and in 1982 the assembly approved his new constitution, which reduced the powers of the president and moved the country toward a fully civilian government. In 1985 a minority government was formed by the former finance minister Professor Aníbal Cavaco Silva of the PSD. He increased economic growth and raised living standards, and favored a free market and privatization. In the 1986 presidential election Mario Soares became Portugal's first civilian president for 60 years. Portugal entered the European Community 1986 and is a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
In July 1987 the PSD won an absolute majority in parliament, with the PRD and Communists both losing seats. In June 1989 parliament approved a series of measures that denationalized major industries and renounced the socialist economy. In Jan 1991 Soares was reelected to a five-year term; the PSD won the Oct general election with a slightly reduced majority. A rift developed between the president and prime minister, the latter objecting to the president's frequent use of his veto on legislation with which he disagreed.
A republic in southwestern Europe; Portuguese explorers and colonists in the 15th and 16th centuries created a vast overseas empire (including Brazil).
Država u Evropi, na Pirinejskom poluostrvu.