Portugal is a representative democracy. In other words, power is delegated to people who represent the people in decision-making. All citizens over 18 years old have the right to vote, except for the disabilities provided for in the general law. The exercise of this right is personal, direct, secret and periodic.

Two sovereign bodies are elected: the President of the Republic and the Assembly of the Republic. There is also a vote to elect the Legislative Assemblies of the Autonomous Regions of Madeira and the Azores, the local authorities and the deputies of the European Parliament.

 

Government

The Government is the governing body of the country’s general policy and the highest body of public administration. The Prime Minister is appointed by the President of the Republic, after hearing the parties represented in the Assembly of the Republic (Parliament) and taking into account the electoral results. The other members of the Government are appointed by the President of the Republic, on a proposal from the Prime Minister.

To form and maintain itself, the Government does not need to have the majority of Parliament in its favour; it is enough not to have a majority against him. He is liable to be dismissed due to an act by the Parliament, and also undergoes its inspection. In addition, it needs the Parliament to approve essential instruments, such as the budget, or to obtain loans.

Assembly of the Republic (Parliament)

The Assembly of the Republic is the legislative body of the Portuguese State. It is a unicameral parliament composed of 230 deputies, elected for 4-year terms. The powers of inspection of the Parliament in relation to the Government’s actions and the acts of the administration can be exercised through several instruments: approval of motions of confidence or censure, meetings of questions to the Prime Minister, interpellations to Government on matters of general or sectoral policy and constitution of parliamentary commissions of inquiry, which enjoy the powers of investigation, among others.

Also in the scope of parliamentary work are the initiative and the competence to present bills for revision of the Constitution. The approval of some laws, called Organic Laws, requires a simple majority of deputies (refer, for example, to elections for the Assembly of the Republic and Presidency of the Republic, the referendum regime, the organization of national defence). In addition to these, the approval of laws and regulations on other constitutionally determined matters requires a qualified majority of two thirds of the deputies present.

Political Parties

  BE | Bloco de Esquerda 

CDS-PP | Centro Democrático Social – Partido Popular 

CDU | Coligação Democrática Unitária (Coligação entre o Partido Comunista Português – PCP e o Partido Ecologista “Os Verdes” ) 

CH | CHEGA 

  IL | Iniciativa Liberal 

L | LIVRE 

PAN | Pessoas-Animais-Natureza 

  PCP | Partido Comunista Português 

  PEV | Partido Ecologista “Os Verdes” 

  PPD/PSD | Partido Popular Democrático/Partido Social Democrata  

PS | Partido Socialista 

 

Source: Assembleia da República 


Elections

In Portugal there are 5 types of elections: legislative, presidential, municipal, regional and European. Legislatives take place every 4 years and elect the 230 deputies that make up the Assembly of the Republic. The deputies are elected in the 22 constituencies, corresponding to the 18 districts, the two autonomous regions (Madeira and Azores) and two circles abroad (Europe and Outside Europe). Mandates are assigned using the Hondt method to ensure proportional representation of votes. Depending on the overall result, the President of the Republic invites the party best placed to form a government. However, it is always the Assembly of the Republic that has the last word.

Presidential candidates elect the President of the Republic every 5 years. Although parties can declare their support for candidates, voters vote directly for the candidate. If no candidate wins with more than 50% of the votes, a second round of the election takes place with the two / two candidates with the most votes.

Local elections are elections at the municipal level. In Portugal there are 308 municipalities. Each voter votes for three different bodies: the City Council, the executive body, the Municipal Assembly, the deliberative body, and the Parish Assembly, the deliberative body from which the parish executive is born. Some foreign nationals residing in Portugal can vote in these elections, depending on their nationality.

Regional elections are limited to the autonomous regions of Madeira and the Azores and are held every 4 years. These elections result in the Legislative Assemblies, from which the Regional Government is formed, which exercises the autonomous power granted by the Constitution to Madeira and the Azores.

Finally, European elections take place across the European Union every 5 years and aim to elect the European Parliament, the body that approves European legislation and the only one directly elected by citizens. In Europe, each country constitutes a single constituency to which the parties present a list of candidates. Altogether, Portugal elects 21 MEPs, out of a total of 705 elected across the EU.


Text written by Mafalda Escada, Degree in Political Science and International Relations by FCSH, Universidade Nova de Lisboa. Master student in Sociology, FCSH, Universidade Nova de Lisboa. Sometimes an investigator, always an activist.
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