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Portugal - 2002 - Jose Manuel Durao Barroso

Jose Manuel Durao Barroso National elections took place on March 17, 2002, two years ahead of schedule. The PSD returned to power after a 6-year absence, winning a plurality of the vote and legislative seats. The new Prime Minister, Jose Manuel Durao Barroso, formed an alliance with the conservative Popular Party (CDS/PP), giving the ruling coalition an absolute majority in the parliament. President Jorge Sampaio is a member of the opposition Socialist Party (PS). The government committed itself to public-sector austerity and business incentives to promote growth, trade, and productivity. Its challenges include rising unemployment, meeting euro-zone fiscal requirements, and adapting to European Union and NATO enlargement.

The European Union has formally named Portuguese Prime Minister Jose Manuel Durao Barroso to be president of the powerful executive commission. The move ends a long a bitter battle within the EU to find a compromise candidate for the 25-nation bloc.

The Commission presidency is a sensitive post. While EU nations in theory say there is a need for a strong Commission to develop policies and enforce EU rules, in practice, they want someone who will take direction from the individual governments. Portuguese Prime Minister Jose Manuel Barroso seems to fit that bill, and, analysts said, the fact that he was one of the least known heads of governmen helped.

On economic policy he was viewed as a liberal and has a reputation as a market-oriented reformer who imposed tough austerity measures on his own country. He also favors gradual European integration along with concern for the needs of small member states that make up the majority of EU nations. On foreign policy, he was criticized at home for siding with the United States and Britain on the Iraq war, rather than France and Germany.

Barroso said he was honored to be named to the post and vowed to work for a Europe Union that is respected and appreciated by its citizens. "I intend to assume my functions with a great deal of realism and enthusiasm, but also with a touch of ambition," he said. "I think it is not incompatible to have a great ambition and to be pragmatic about the way to fulfill that ambition. This I find indispensable to the pursuit of the European dream." He was chosen after EU leaders rejected Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt, and Luxembourg's Jean-Claude Juncke, who had wide E.U. support, declined the job. A number of other candidates were also considered.

Pedro Santana Lopes After Durao Barroso resigned in July 2004 to become President of the European Commission, President Sampaio asked the former mayor of Lisbon and the new PSD leader, Pedro Santana Lopes, to form a new government. On July 17, 2004, President Sampaio swore in Lopes' new government, preserving the PSD/CDS/PP ruling coalition.

The government of Pedro Santana Lopes in 2004-5 was short-lived and widely disparaged. President Sampaio lost confidence in that government by the end of 2004, dissolved parliament, and called for new elections.

As former Prime Minister, Santana Lopes had a grip on a strong faction within the party, despite having led the PSD to its worst-ever defeat in 2005. As leader of the PSD bench, Santana Lopes faced Prime Minister Socrates on a daily basis, but has made no noticeable headway against him. Santana Lopes' political career, written off by many, was revived recently when Menezes named him leader of the PSD bloc in the National Assembly. Ironically, Menezes did so in an attempt to smooth over internal party divisions.

After six months on the job, leader of the center-right Social Democratic Party (PSD) Luis Filipe Menezes resigned his position 17 April 2008. Menezes was never able to repair the internal party divisions resulting from his own successful 2007 challenge to former leader Luis Marques Mendes, nor was he able to demonstrate a viable challenge to the Socialist Party government led by Prime Minister Jose Socrates.

Manuela Ferreira Leite won an extremely tight three-way internal election in the summer of 2008. Her selling point is that, as a former Economy Minister, she could fight the PS where they were traditionally weakest. Unfortunately, she was Economy Minister during the worst economy of the last twenty years, following which the then-PSD government was turfed out of power by a large majority that voted for the PS. Ferreira Leite subsequently denied her main rival, Pedro Passos Coelho, a party leadership position, freeing him to present his own proposals to the public in a nation-wide "listening tour." President Cavaco Silva is PSD but eschews party infighting and strives for balance within and among the parties.







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