THE GOVERNMENT

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 functions.

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.

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