The Council of Ministers
The Council of Ministers, or cabinet, is the state's
executive institution. The council consists of the prime
and fifteen to eighteen cabinet ministers. Most ministers
from the parliament, but they are not required to do so.
coalition cabinets, the majority of ministers usually
the coalition's largest party, that of the prime minister,
the remaining ministers come from other coalition parties.
in the cabinet, a member of parliament has to relinquish,
least temporarily, his or her seat in that body.
The Council of Ministers has both administrative and
policymaking functions, is responsible for national security and
defense affairs, and is in charge of the day-to-day
implementation of government policy. In addition,
cabinet has extensive legislative powers by virtue of its
to pass decree-laws within areas of its responsibility. It
also be granted the right by the Assembly of the Republic
legislation in areas of responsibility usually reserved to
parliament, its "relatively reserved legislative powers."
getting a bill through the assembly was often a slow
Council of Ministers often made use of this right. The
responsible both individually and collectively for its
first to the prime minister and ultimately to the
In Portugal, the minister with the greatest power was
minister of finance, who prepared the budget and oversaw
finances of the other ministries. Ministers were assisted
politically appointed secretaries of state, who vacated
positions when their ministers left the council. As
Article 203 of the 1989 revised constitution, a number of
ministers sometimes met together and formed what the
terms "councils of specialized ministers" to work on
mutual concern. They could call on their secretaries of
civil servants for assistance and could submit the results
their collaboration to the entire cabinet for review.
Additional bodies were later created to assist
ministers on the council as a whole. In 1984 the Office of
Techno-Legislative Support, under the minister of justice,
formed to assist the council in drafting legislation. A
superior councils assisted ministers with studies and
Examples of this kind of body were the Superior Council of
Finance or the National Board of Education. In addition to
advising ministers, these bodies met with groups being
by government decisions.
Data as of January 1993