Portugal. Jorge Sampaio, former Lisbon mayor, was elected Portugal’s president on January 14. Like his representative Mário Soares belongs to the Sampaio Partido Socialista (PS). Soares could not be eligible for re-election as he has served as president for the two five-year periods that the country’s constitution maximally allows.
At the end of January, the government signed a treaty with the country’s unions and employers’ organizations. According to the Treaty, wages were allowed to increase by only 4.5% during the year, 1% above the government’s inflation target.
Portugal has the cheapest labor force in the EU, and this, combined with an expanded infrastructure, increased in 1996 foreign companies’ investments in the country in several sectors – automotive, energy production, agricultural and textile industries. In May, the German business group Siemens announced an investment of Escudo 60 billion ($ 380 million) to build an electronics plant in northern Portugal. Ericsson in Sweden received an order from the Portuguese telecommunications operator Telecel worth SEK 650 million for the delivery of switches and base stations to a mobile telephone system.
- ABBREVIATIONFINDER.ORG: What does PT stand for? In the field of geography, this two letter acronym means Portugal. Check this to see its other meanings in English and other 35 languages.
At the end of June, Portuguese Foreign Minister Jaime Gama participated in a Geneva talks on East Timor with Indonesia’s Foreign Minister Ali Alatas and UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali.
On March 5, 2004, Parliament rejected with a vote of the PSD and PP a bill to allow abortion. Nevertheless, the government recommended conducting a study on the number, causes and complications of illegal abortions in Portugal. It may change its position on existing legislation in this area. Acc. figures from the Ministry of Health 11,000 women needed medical treatment after the implementation of illegal abortions in 2002. The extent of illegal abortions is estimated to be around 30,000 annually.
Prime Minister Manuel Durão Barroso was appointed new President of the European Commission in July. His post was taken over by Pedro Santana Lopes. However, this government only lasted for 4 months. New elections were held and Social Democrat José Sócrates became new prime minister. His party got the biggest electoral victory in its history and gained absolute majority in parliament.
In June 2005, the EU ordered Portugal to reduce the government budget deficit to bring it down to the EMU target. Portugal was only the second country to be reprimanded by the EU for violating the guidelines. The government had already presented a plan to reduce the deficit from 6.8% to 6.2% for the year. The plan operated simultaneously with a reduction to 2.8% in 2008.
In August, the country was hit by extensive drought of forest fires that destroyed 140,000 hectares and cost 15 people their lives. The disaster forced Portugal to ask for help from other EU countries to fight the fires.
At the January 2006 presidential election, the center-right former Prime Minister Aníbal Cavaco Silva beat 5 left-wing candidates. He got 50.54% of the vote. On his accession in March, he stated that he wanted a “strategic cooperation” with the Social Democratic government with which he now had to live.
In February 2007, a referendum on free abortion was conducted. The proposal was approved by 59% of the population and in April the government could propose a new law that legalizes abortion during the first 10 weeks of pregnancy. President Silva had been against the law, and had therefore initially submitted it to the Constitutional Court, where it was only known by a narrow majority in accordance with the Constitution. Only then did Silva sign the law.
A legal inquiry into Portugal’s participation in the CIA’s torture program was suspended in May 2009, ‘ the lack of evidence ». This prompted the Portuguese Member of the European Parliament, Ana Gomes, to resume the investigation because a large number of stakeholders had never been involved. However, the claim was rejected by the state attorney in September. In the same year, Portugal received 2 Syrians from the US concentration camp in Guantanamo. The Syrians could not return to Syria because of the risk of imprisonment there.
As in Denmark has extensive police impunity for abuse, torture and murder. Several torture cases were dealt with in the courts in 2009. Police officers were all acquitted, but judgments were given on false testimony and falsification of documents by police officers.
The ruling Socialist Party declined drastically in the September 2009 elections, falling 8.4% to 36.6%. The largest progress of the election was the Left Bloc, which rose 3.4% to 9.1%. Despite the decline, the Socialist Party remained the country’s largest, and Prime Minister Sócrates continued in the post.
Portugal made significant strides in the area of gender politics during the Socialist government. In 2009, fathers and mothers were treated equally and in May 2010 same-sex parties were allowed to marry.
Portugal was hit by the global economic crisis. GDP fell by 3.3% in 2009 and unemployment rose from 9.0% in March 2009 to 10.5% in March 2010. Meanwhile, youth unemployment reached 21.4%. The figures were at the EU average and were significantly better than neighboring Spain. All in all, the government took a number of unpopular economic measures as the government deficit grew to 9.3% – where the EU’s border is 3%. The government therefore implemented a savings package in June 2010:
- The personal tax was raised by 1.5%
- VAT was raised 1% to 21%.
- The corporate tax was raised 2.5% to 27.5%
- Public servants in senior positions as well as elected politicians reduced their salaries by 5%
Although the package was not aimed at the country’s poorest – unlike most other EU countries – 300,000 demonstrated at the end of May in Lisbon.
According to Countryaah.com, the population of Portugal in 1996 was 10,091,214, ranking number 72 in the world. The population growth rate was 0.390% yearly, and the population density was 110.1793 people per km2.