The Government and Politics of the European Union

Seventh edition

by Neill Nugent


Population 10.6 m
Capital Lisbon
Surface area 91,900 km2
Official Language Portuguese
Gross domestic product (GDP) (in euros) 192.8 bn
GDP as a % of EU-27, based on 2009 data 1.6
GDP per capita by purchasing power standards (indexed to EU average of 100) 75.5
Currency Euro
Human development index (HDI), an index based on life expectancy, education and GDP (max. 1) 0.897
World rank in HDI 27/177
Key economic sectors (% of GDP in 2002) Services (68); industry (28); agriculture (4)
Leading Companies EDP (energy supplier); Galp Energia, SGPS, SA (oil and gas company); Portugal Telecom
Unemployment in January 2010 10.5% (source:
Main religious denominations (numbers in millions) Roman Catholic (9.52)
Political system Executive power is vested in the President, who can be elected for a maximum of two five-year terms. Political parties may not field candidates in presidential elections, although they may lend their support to one of them. A unicameral legislature, the National Assembly, sits for four-year terms.
Electoral system The President is directly elected. The National Assembly is elected by proportional representation.
Current (March 2010) leaders President: Aníbal Cavaco Silva (b. 1939), since March 2006
Prime minister: José Sócrates Carvalho Pinto de Sousa (b. 1957), since March 2005
Previous leaders: Presidents: Jorge Sampaio (1996-2006); Mario Soares (1986-96)
Prime ministers: Pedro Santana Lopes (2004-05); José Manuel Barroso (2002-04)
Joined the EU/EC 1986
Commissioner from country in Barroso II College of Commissioners, and portfolio José Manuel Barroso (President)
Number of MEPs 22/754
Turnout in 2009 EP elections (%) 37.0
Member of eurozone Yes (founder member)

Except where a specific reference is inserted, the sources for this profile are either Neill Nugent’s book itself, or Barry Turner (ed.), The Statesman’s Yearbook Online, Basingstoke and New York: Palgrave Macmillan. If your library subscribes, you can gain access at