Portugal - Government

A constitution made public on 9 April 1975 and effective 25 April 1976 stipulated that the Armed Forces Movement would maintain governmental responsibilities as the guarantor of democracy and defined Portugal as a republic "engaged in the formation of a classless society." The document provided for a strong, popularly elected president, empowered to appoint the prime minister and cabinet. This constitution was substantially revised in 1982 and later in 1989; the most important new provisions were the elimination of the military Council of the Revolution and the limitation of presidential power. The new government system is parliamentary.

According to the constitution as amended (further amendments were added in 1992, to accommodate the Maastricht Treaty on European Union; in 1997, to allow referendums; and in 2001, to facilitate extradition), the president is elected by popular vote for a five-year term. The president appoints the prime minister and, at the prime minister's proposal, a Council of Ministers. A Council of State advises the president. The main lawmaking body is the unicameral Assembly of the Republic, the members of which (230 in 2003) are directly elected to four-year terms, subject to dissolution. Both the next presidential and parliamentary elections are due to be held in 2006. Suffrage is universal from age 18.

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