The Government conducts the country's general policy and directs
the Public Administration, which implements the State's policy.
The Government possesses legislative, administrative and
political functions, which include proposing laws (on the matters
which the Constitution places within the competence of the Assembly
of the Republic), drafting laws (in the areas for which competence
pertains to the Government itself) and drawing up regulations
designed to make it possible to actually implement laws.
In addition, the Government also represents the Portuguese
State, particularly on the international level, negotiating with
other states or international organisations.
Governments are formed as follows:
Following elections to the Assembly of the Republic or the
resignation or dismissal of the previous Government, the President
of the Republic consults all the parties with seats in the Assembly
and then invites a political figure to form a Government.
The Prime Minister, who is appointed by the President of the
Republic, then invites the other members of the Government to join
it. The President of the Republic installs the Prime Minister and
the Government, which then draws up its Programme and presents it
to the Assembly of the Republic. The Programme is a document that
sets out the Government's main political guidelines, together with
the measures it intends to adopt or to propose to the Assembly.
The head of the Government is the Prime Minister, who
coordinates the work of the different ministers and represents the
Government in its relations with the President and the Assembly of
the Republic. The Government takes its main decisions in the
Council of Ministers.
Each Government's mandate ends when a new Government takes
office, be it when the latter has been formed following elections
to the Assembly of the Republic, or when its formation is the
result of a realignment of forces in the parliament. Whenever the
legislature (i.e. the period from one election to the next, which
corresponds to the life of an Assembly of the Republic with a given
composition) or the Prime Minister's term of office ends, a new
Government is formed.
The Government can fall when: it asks the Assembly of the
Republic for a confidence motion and the Assembly rejects it; the
Assembly passes a motion of no confidence in the Government by an
absolute majority; the Assembly does not pass the Government's
Programme; the President of the Republic dismisses the Government
in order to ensure the normal operation of Portugal's democratic
institutions; or the Prime Minister resigns, dies or becomes
physically or mentally incapable of performing his/her
In a number of matters, the Government is responsible to the
President of the Republic - via the Prime Minister - and to the
Assembly of the Republic - to which it accounts for its political
actions, for example during the fortnightly debates in which the
Prime Minister answers Members' questions.