José Sócrates

José Sócrates

Infobox_Prime Minister
name = José Sócrates Carvalho Pinto de Sousa

order = Prime Minister of Portugal
president = Jorge Sampaio
Aníbal Cavaco Silva
deputy = Luís Amado
Fernando Teixeira dos Santos
term_start = 12 March 2005
term_end =
predecessor = Pedro Santana Lopes
successor =
birth_date = birth date and age|1957|09|06|df=y
birth_place = Vilar de Maçada, PortugalActually born in Porto but registered in his father's rural village: pt icon [ "Um osso duro de roer"] , unofficial biography published in 2005 in the Diário de Notícias]
death_date =
death_place =
spouse = Sofia da Costa Pinto Fava (divorced)
party = PS
occupation = Politician
religion = AgnosticFact|date=July 2008

José Sócrates Carvalho Pinto de Sousa, GCIH (pronounced|ʒuˈzɛ ˈsɔkɾɐtɨʃ; Audio|Pt-Jose Socrates.ogg|listen; born in Vilar de Maçada 6 September 1957) is a Portuguese politician, secretary-general of the Socialist Party and prime minister of Portugal since 12 March 2005. For the second half of 2007, he acted as the President-in-Office of the Council of the European Union. In addition to these posts, José Sócrates was Portugal's Minister for Youth and Sports and one of the organisers of the EURO 2004 football championship in Portugal, as well as being a former Portugal's Minister for Environment, in the government teams of António Guterres.


Early years

José Sócrates was born in Porto on 6 September 1957, and was registered as a newborn in Vilar de Maçada, Alijó municipality in northeastern Portugal, since the locality was his family ancestral homeland. However, the young José Sócrates lived throughout his childhood and teen years with his father, a divorced architect, in the city of Covilhã, Cova da Beira subregion in central inland Portugal, in the Centro region. His parents are Fernando Pinto de Sousa (b. Vilar de Maçada, Alijó, 15 November 1926) and wife Maria Adelaide de Carvalho Monteiro (b. Vilar de Maçada, Alijó, 8 October 1931).


José Sócrates studied in Covilhã's basic and secondary schools, until the age of 18. Then, in 1975, he went to Coimbra in order to attend a higher education institution. He earned in 1979 his 4-year "bacharelato" [The Portuguese "bacharelato" degree awarded by polytechnical institutions or its predecessors, was not a bachelor's degree - it was one step below. Only the "licenciatura" degree was equal to the bachelor's degree. (See Higher education in Portugal for details)] degree as a civil technical engineer from the "Instituto Superior de Engenharia de Coimbra" (established in 1974 and later incorporated into the "Instituto Politécnico de Coimbra" in 1988). From 1987 to 1993, he attended "Universidade Lusíada", a private university in Lisbon, enrolling in law, but dropped out. [pt icon [ "Sócrates estudou Direito na Universidade Lusíada"] , in Público] In 1994/95, already a well known politician, he briefly attended the "Instituto Superior de Engenharia de Lisboa" where he completed some academic disciplines in order to get a CESE diploma (a complementary diploma to his "bacharelato" degree because until 1999 the polytechnic institutions did not offer "licenciatura" degrees), but instead, under circumstances which would provoke a fait-divers controversy in 2007, he earned in 1996 the "licenciatura" (licentiate degree) in civil engineering from the "Universidade Independente", a private university in icon [ "Há falhas no dossier de José Sócrates na Universidade Independente"] , in Público newspaper] He also has an MBA awarded in 2005 by ISCTE, a public university institute in Lisbon. [pt icon [ "Director do Público admite «confusão» no caso do MBA de José Sócrates"] , in Sol newspaper]

Political career

José Sócrates was one of the founders of JSD (the youth branch of PSD - Portuguese Social Democratic Party) before changing his political affiliation and apply for membership in the PS - Portuguese Socialist Party. He has been a member of the Socialist Party since 1981. José Sócrates served as a technical engineer for the Covilhã City Council, and was a member of the Portuguese Parliament from 1987 until 1995, representing the Castelo Branco electoral district. While serving as the chairperson of the Castelo Branco Federation of the Socialist Party (1983-1996), he was elected to the Party's National Secretariat in 1991. From 1989 to 1996, he served as a member of the Covilhã Municipal Assembly. He served as spokesperson on environmental affairs for the Socialist Party from 1991 to 1995. In 1995, he entered government as secretary of state for Environment in the first government of António Guterres. Two years later, Sócrates became Minister for Youth and Sports and was one of the organizers of the EURO 2004 cup in Portugal. He became Minister for Environment in Guterres' second government in 1999. Following the elections of 2002 (won by José Manuel Durão Barroso), Sócrates became a member of the opposition in the Portuguese Parliament. Meanwhile he also had a program of political analysis joint with Pedro Santana Lopes on RTP. After the resignation of Ferro Rodrigues as party leader in 2004, he won a bid for the post of secretary-general against Manuel Alegre and João Soares, winning the vote of nearly 80% of party members on 24 September 2004. After the landslide victory of his party in the 2005 Portuguese election, Sócrates was called on 24 February by president Jorge Sampaio to form a new government - the "XVII Governo Constitucional". He also became a Member of the Portuguese Council of State as the Prime-Minister.

Personal life

Family and residence

A father of two, Sócrates is currently divorced from Sofia da Costa Pinto Fava, daughter of José Fava and wife Clotilde da Costa Pinto, by whom he had two sons José Miguel (b. 1993) and Eduardo (b. 1995) Fava Pinto de Sousa, and lives in Lisbon although being a registered elector of the municipality of Covilhã until this day, which means he votes there every time is needed.

Health and well-being

José Sócrates has been constantly aware of his role as an opinion-former, which is why he has never smoked in public or let himself be photographed or filmed smoking. On the other hand, he never misses the opportunity to promote his polished image and therefore had photos of himself taken during his morning jog at places like the Red Square in Moscow, Rio de Janeiro's Copacabana, Luanda, and Lisbon. In January 2008 a smoking ban entered force in Portugal's public buildings and public transport, but Portuguese Prime Minister José Sócrates was caught smoking in May during a flight to Venezuela where he meet Hugo Chavez. He has since admitted it was a mistake, apologised and promised to quit smoking. In addition, he claimed he was not aware he was breaking the law when he did so. [ João Marcelino [ O mau e o bom exemplos dados por José Sócrates] , Diário de Notícias, 15 May 2008]

Prime Minister of Portugal

After the 2005 Portuguese Parliament election, Sócrates was called on 24 February by president Jorge Sampaio to form a new government. Sócrates and his government ("XVII Governo Constitucional") took office in 12 March 2005.

XVII Governo Constitucional

Major policies

Administrative reforms

"XVII Governo Constitucional" government, headed by Prime Minister José Sócrates, created new rules and implemented reforms aiming better efficiency and rationalized resource allocation in the public sector, fighting civil servant overcapacity ("excedentários") and achieving less bureaucracy for both citizens and companies (eg: "empresa na hora" [] , "PRACE - Programa de Reestruturação da Administração Central do Estado" [] , and SIMPLEX - Programa de Simplificação Administrativa e Legislativa [] ), among others. Since the "XVII Governo Constitucional" government (with José Sócrates as Prime Minister and Teixeira dos Santos as Minister of Finance) Portugal's fiscal policy improved with a steady increase of the number of taxpayers and the growth of the receipt amount from State taxation. Several reforms and measures implemented in 2006/2007 by the government ("XVII Governo Constitucional" - headed by Prime Minister José Sócrates), resulted in improved welfare system financial sustainability but reduced income expectations of future pensioners by nearly 40%. In addition, economically active people must work for more years before retirement than formerly.

Technological plan

One of the government's main policies was the "Plano Tecnológico" (Technological Plan), aimed to increase Portugal's competitive advantage through the modernization of its economy. The plan consisted of three key areas: knowledge, technology and innovation. The government goal was to modernize the Portuguese economy by concentrating its efforts and investment in these three key areas. [ [ Tecnological Plan - Inovating Portugal ] ]

A low-cost netbook for use by children announced by Sócrates's government cabinet, named "Magalhães" (after Fernão de Magalhães) and packaged and assembled by the Portuguese company J.P. Sá Couto, headquartered in Matosinhos, Norte region, was among the government's innovations under the Technological Plan policy. On 7 October 2008, a controversy arose with Magalhães netbook for use by children, because the assembler J.P. Sá Couto became a suspect of tax evasion in values worth 5 million euros and Magalhães notebook project was sponsored by the Portuguese government headed by José Sócrates. [pt icon [ JP Sá Couto é acusada de fraude e fuga ao IVA] , Público]

Educational reforms

The government allocated more resources for education policy and reorganised the sector aiming more choice and better quality in vocational technical education. Enhanced and improved vocational technical education programs where implemented in 2007 in an effort to revitalize this sector which had been almost discontinued after the Carnation Revolution of 1974. Other education policies included more financial support for students (in all educational levels), systematic teaching and school evaluation, ranking and benchmarking of teaching institutions and even the compulsory closing of some problematic and unreliable private higher education institutions (like the Independente University and Moderna University). During the "XVII Governo Constitucional", the pan-European Bologna Process was fully implemented in Portugal. On the other hand, the government created a policy of certification and equivalence of qualifications for adult people with low levels of formal education who want a 4th, 6th, 9th or 12th grade equivalence without returning to school (for example, through this process, called "Novas Oportunidades", [ [ :: Guia de Acesso ao Secundário :: ] ] [ [ Portal do Governo ] ] adults (18 years old and older) with the 9th grade might be granted an equivalence to the 12th grade after a process ranging from a part-time 3-month programme or a 1 day per week 8-month programme; those who have less than 9th grade have a similar programme to get the 9th grade certification and can then apply to the 12th grade programme). The curricula do not include any classical high school discipline or a traditional examination process. Some critics alleged this policy was an effort to make up the poor national statistical indicators on education, with little impact on the quality of the work force's qualification of Portugal in the European Union context. [pt icon A Página da Educação, "Estas considerações surgem como necessárias à problematização e questionamento da bondade da muito propalada "Iniciativa Novas Oportunidades", nomeadamente no eixo de intervenção jovens. Se "fazer do nível secundário o patamar mínimo de qualificação para jovens e adultos" se nos afigura como um objectivo socialmente louvável, concretizá-lo pela expansão da oferta das fileiras menos prestigiadas do secundário, segmento com clara sobre-representação das categorias sociais mais desfavorecidas (cursos profissionalizantes), e que proporcionam acesso às ocupações com remunerações mais modestas, pode criar a ilusão de uma certa democratização (desde logo quantitativa), e até melhorar a posição do país no ranking europeu da escolarização (sempre importante para fins de "cosmética política"),..." [] , A Página da Educação (education magazine)] [pt icon SPN - Sindicato dos Professores do Norte, Direcção da Área de S. João da Madeira, "A ideia generosa das Novas Oportunidades a massificar-se e a ser aplicada sem condições materiais e humanas, o que a transformará num embuste estatístico para melhorar os índices educativos portugueses." [] , SPN - Sindicato dos Professores do Norte (Teacher's Union of Norte Region)] [pt icon António Figueira, [ Fernando Sobral in "Jornal de Negócios": Um conceito que é uma vergonha] Fernando Sobral: “Novas Oportunidades”, como conceito, é uma vergonha. Vende a ideia de que as pessoas que passam a ferro, os caixas de lojas ou os executantes de milhares de tarefas indispensáveis à sociedade, são Zés Ninguém. Cria a noção de que se todos aderirem às “Novas Oportunidades”, o sucesso chegará por e-mail. Alguém, claro, terá de fornecer esses trabalhos aparentemente inúteis neste novo conceito. Mas, a acreditar na lógica do Governo, para isso estão cá os brasileiros, os angolanos, os ucranianos e os que não têm direito às oportunidades. Para Sócrates quem não é célebre não interessa e quem não é reconhecido não tem identidade. Esta campanha do Governo não vende ilusões: trafica desejos. E está a alimentar ainda mais um conceito cruel que se desenvolveu na sociedade portuguesa: conhecem-te, existes. “Novas Oportunidades” é a cara do PS “terceira via” de Sócrates. O sucesso está acima de todos os valores. E deve achincalhar o trabalho útil, mas invisível. “Novas Oportunidades” é, simplesmente, um filme de terror governamental. Com sabor a caramelo.”,]

Transportation developments

Prime Minister José Sócrates and his government team supported the decision of building new transportation infranstructure such as a new airport for Lisbon and a TGV network. For months the government of Prime Minister José Sócrates insisted the country's only option for a new airport was in the Ota region north of Lisbon. But a powerful lobby, headed by local business honchos and given the imprimatur of the Portuguese president Aníbal Cavaco Silva, forced Sócrates's Government into reversal, by bringing an alternative site for the new airport – the Portuguese Air Force's shooting range in Alcochete south of Lisbon. A study commissioned by a group of businesspeople said the Alcochete site would save taxpayers as much as €3bn in construction costs, and would have less of an environmental impact. The government argued that Ota was a key piece of its overall transport strategy, which included highspeed rail lines to Spain, but even so recognized that the project wasn't finalized and that a debate on the pros and cons of both sites would be worthwhile. Then the government commissioned a technical study to the state-run civil engineering laboratory (Laboratório Nacional de Engenharia Civil) comparing both locations one to each other. Following the conclusions of that study, on the 10 January 2008 the Prime Minister José Sócrates announced the option Alcochete as the most rational choice for a new airport for Lisbon.

Presidency of the Council of the European Union

José Sócrates as Prime Minister of Portugal, presided over the rotative Presidency of the Council of the European Union for the period July-December 2007. [] In this post, Sócrates and his team focused on the EU-Brazil (1st EU-Brazil summit) and EU-African Union (2007 Africa-EU Summit) relations, as well as in the approval of the Treaty of Lisbon. The Portuguese Parliament voted to ratify the Treaty of Lisbon on 23 April 2008. After the Irish referendum on 12 June 2008, Prime Minister José Sócrates said he saw the Irish "No" to the treaty as a "personal defeat" after it was signed by EU leaders in the Portuguese capital. [ [ Europe stunned by Irish rejection of treaty] ,]

ócrates-Independente affair

In March 2007, "Universidade Independente" (UnI), a private university in Lisbon, was placed under investigation on alleged irregularities on several matters. In that same month, Portuguese Prime Minister José Sócrates' "licenciatura" degree in civil engineering by "Universidade Independente" was put under enormous public scrutiny. Journalists found that qualifications awarded did not follow procedure and that four of the five academic disciplines were given in the private university by the same professor, António José Moraes, a socialist government appointee. A fifth academic discipline, "technical English" was given by the Independente's rector. A strong case was built up related to possible false declarations by José Sócrates regarding his university degree, and the way he was awarded this degree in civil engineering. Some Portuguese news media professionals stated that Sócrates or members of his staff, through phone calls, threatened court action against journalists and tried to stop the reportings on his "licenciatura" degree awarded by UnI. [pt icon [ Sofia Branco - José Manuel Fernandes e Sarsfield Cabral disseram ter havido ameaças de processos judiciais] , in Público] On 9 April 2007, "Universidade Independente" was closed by government officials after an investigation reported several serious irregularities in the running of this private university. Under heavy pressure, the Portuguese Prime Minister José Sócrates provided his version of the facts on Wednesday, 11 April 2007 in a live broadcast interview for RTP 1 TV channel and RDP radio. The Prime Minister stated he was not favoured by "Universidade Independente" to obtain the degree, declared he had been the target of "catty accusations", and defended the authenticity of this degree, though admitting he is not a full chartered civil engineer. [pt icon [ José Sócrates espera que entrevista à RTP e RDP tenha sido esclarecedora] , in Rádio e Televisão de Portugal] In his official biography at the Portuguese Government's official website Mr Sócrates claimed to have already obtained the coveted qualification of engineer. He later admitted that was a "lapse", and the government website altered his CV, downgrading "civil engineer" to "diploma in civil engineering". In the interest of accuracy, he should have used "licenciado em engenharia civil" instead of "engenheiro". Before he had been granted the degree, he presented himself as an "engineer" when he was solely a "technical engineer". Portuguese Parliament documents with official information on Sócrates personal data were found proving such inconsistencies. [pt icon [ PSD comunicou a Gama que registos de Sócrates eram assunto encerrado] , in Rádio e Televisão de Portugal] Sócrates and his staff replied to this by stating that it was probably a misunderstanding in the parliamentary services. After having the "licenciatura" diploma he used the title "engineer" in several official documentation, despite the fact that his unaccredited degree in civil engineering from "Universidade Independente" was not legally recognized to allow for the use of the title "engineer"; a profession which is regulated in Portugal by the "Ordem dos Engenheiros". José Sócrates was fiercely criticised by members of Portugal's democratic opposition in the Parliament regarding both proved and unproven issues related with this controversy. Nicolau Santos, a television journalist and a director of Expresso newspaper, criticised the controversial series of fait-divers published in Público and claimed that although the extensive coverage of details, Público's investigation lead to "no definitive conclusion" and might be connected with other issues. In the same tone, several other media personalities, like SIC Notícias' journalist Ricardo Costa, suggested that SONAE corporation, the parent company of Público newspaper, was behind the beginning of the controversy due to a failed takeover bid of SONAE's telecommunications operator over the largest Portuguese telecom - Portugal Telecom. [ [ Clube de Jornalistas > 1.ª Página > Quando o telefone toca ] ]


State authorities investigated the affair and archived the file as the suspicions of falsification and irregularities allegedly attributed to José Sócrates turned out to be unfounded. On the other hand, the "Universidade Independente" was investigated by education state authorities in 2007, which resulted in the compulsory closing of that private university due to lack of academic rigour and teaching quality, along with generalized managerial and financial chaos in the institution.


On 17 August 2007, a new controversy arose after the discovery that a government computer had been used to remove all the references to the Sócrates-Independente affair from Wikipedia. [pt icon [ Government computer removed content related to the Sócrates-Independente controversy from Wikipedia] , in Público] The specific government computer is only one among several dozen included in the IP range of the computer services of the state.

References and notes

External links

*pt icon [ Portuguese government website] - Official web site
*en icon [ Portuguese government website] - Official web site

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