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Constitutional revisions


The Constitution of the Portuguese Republic that was passed on 2 April 1976 gave the Assembleia da República the power the revise the Constitution itself. This prerogative was exercised for the first time in a long process of revising the initial text (from 30 April 1981 to 30 September 1982). The original document reflected political and ideological options which arose out of the revolutionary period that followed the break with the previous authoritarian regime. It confirmed a transition to socialism based on the nationalisation of the main means of production and the continued participation of the Armed Forces Movement in the exercise of political power, via the Council of the Revolution.

The 1982 Constitutional Revision sought to reduce the ideological content of the Constitution, make the economic system more flexible and redefine the organisational structures through which political power was exercised. The Council of the Revolution was abolished and the Constitutional Court created.

The 2nd Constitutional Revision took place in 1989. It made the economic system more open, particularly by ending the principle of the irreversibility of the nationalisations that had occurred immediately after the Revolution on the 25th of April 1974.

The subsequent Constitutional Revisions, in 1992 and 1997, sought to adapt the text of the Constitution to the principles of the European Union Treaties and the Treaties of Maastricht and Amsterdam. It also aimed to make a number of other changes, especially by giving foreign citizens the right to vote, making it possible to create uninominal constituencies, giving citizens the right to initiate legislation, and also strengthening theAssembleia da República’s exclusive legislative powers.

The Constitution was again revised in 2001, to make it possible for Portugal to ratify the Convention that created the International Criminal Court by changing the rules on extradition.

The 6th Constitutional Revision, which was passed in 2004, granted broader political and administrative autonomy to the Madeira and Azores Autonomous Regions, principally by increasing the powers of their legislative assemblies and abolishing the office of “Minister of the Republic”, which was replaced with that of “Representative of the Republic”.

Rules concerning international relations and International Law were also amended and clarified. Examples include those on the effectiveness of European Union treaties and rules in the Portuguese legal system.

The principle of limits on political terms of office was also deepened, particularly in relation to executive political officeholders, and the principle of non-discrimination was strengthened, especially as regards sexual orientation.

The 7th Constitutional Revision was passed in 2005. By adding a new article to the Constitution, it allowed the holding of referenda on the approval of treaties aimed at the construction and deepening of the European Union.