EurAfrican 2023

Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa

H.E. the President of the Portuguese Republic

Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa was elected President of the Republic on 24 January 2016, with 52% of the votes cast. In that presidential election to which ten contestants stood – the highest number to date – he chose the motto “Together for Portugal”. Upon taking office, the fifth President elected in Democracy stated: “The President of the Republic is the President of all. Without wanting to be more than the Constitution allows. Without accepting to be less than the Constitution imposes”.

He was re-elected on 24 January 2021 with 60.7% of the vote in an election held in a state of emergency due to the pandemic caused by the Sars-Cov-2 virus. That night, his victory speech was marked by a tribute to the victims of the pandemic and a call for the union of all the Portuguese people to win the fight against it.

His motto was “Every Portuguese citizen counts”.

Marcelo Nuno Duarte Rebelo de Sousa was born in Lisbon on 12 December 1948. He is the eldest of the three children of Maria das Neves Fernandes Duarte (1920-2003), a social worker, born in Covilhã, and Baltazar Rebelo de Sousa (1921-2002), a doctor and politician with origins in Celorico de Basto.

His father’s connection to Minho, where he spent several seasons with his family, made this part of the country his birthplace by affinity.

He has two children, Nuno (b.1973) and Sofia (b.1976), and five grandchildren.

He completed all his schooling in Lisbon and at the end of high school, at the Liceu Pedro Nunes, having received, from the 2nd year onwards, the prize of best student of the Liceu for his academic performance. While a student, he participated in various movements of the Catholic Church; he was an association leader and was a member of SEDES (Association for Economic and Social Development).

In 1971, he graduated in Law, with an average mark of 19/20, from the Faculty of Law of the University of Lisbon (FDUL), an institution where he started teaching a year later. He finished his doctorate in 1984 with a thesis in the area of legal and political sciences (The Political Parties in the Portuguese Constitutional System), with distinction and honours. It was the second doctorate to be held at FDUL after the Revolution of April 25th 1974 (the first was held by Professor Jorge Miranda). In 1985 and 1989 he was unanimously approved in the competitive examinations for Associate Professor and Aggregation. In the latter examinations, he presented a monograph entitled The Legal Value of the Unconstitutional Act. In 1990 he reached the highest category of his academic career: he was appointed full professor of the Lisbon University Faculty of Law, initially on a provisional basis and by definitive appointment in 1992, in both cases by unanimity.

During his academic career he was a member of the Board of Directors and of the Commission for the Restructuring of the Faculty of Law of the University of Lisbon; he was part of the respective Representatives Assembly and Pedagogical Council; he chaired the Board of Directors, the Scientific Council and the Pedagogical Council, and belonged to the University Senate. He was also president of the Institute for Legal and Political Sciences of FDUL.

As a university professor for 46 years, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa also taught at other universities: the Faculty of Social and Human Sciences of the Catholic University and the Faculty of Law of the Catholic University; and at the Faculty of Economics of the New University of Lisbon. He was part of the Installing Committee and Scientific Council of the Faculty of Law of the University of Porto, an institution for which he was awarded an honorary doctorate, and the working group that studied the start-up of the Faculty of Law of the New University of Lisbon. He taught in several universities in Portuguese-speaking countries and was a legal consultant and member of Arbitration Tribunals for 32 years.

At the same time, he has collaborated with several media organisations – in the Press, Radio and Television – in management and management positions, as well as collaborator and commentator. His experience in the media began while he was a university student and lasted for decades. He was part of the team that founded the newspapers “Expresso”, in 1973, and “Semanário”, in 1983, where he performed management and executive functions, as well as being a political analyst.

In 1983 he started his political commentary on the radio, at Rádio Renascença, on the weekly show “De fio a pavio”; in 1993 he started the weekly show “Exame”, on Rádio TSF, on which he did political analysis for three years. During those years he was called “professor” by which he became known to the Portuguese.

In 2000, he made his debut on television as a political commentator: initially on TVI, and between 2005 and 2010 on RTP, in the program “Marcelo’s choices”. In 2010, he returned to TVI where he maintained a weekly collaboration until October 2015, when he announced his candidacy for the Presidency of the Republic.

Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa has participated, in an active way, in national political life. In 1974, he was one of the initial members of the Partido Popular Democrático (PPD, renamed Partido Social Democrata – PSD – in 1976), for which he was elected deputy to the Constituent Assembly in April 1975, having participated in the work of drafting the first Constitution of Portuguese Democracy, as he had previously participated in the commission that prepared and drafted the first Press Law in Democracy. In the VIII Constitutional Government, he was Secretary of State of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers and Minister of Parliamentary Affairs. He was responsible, namely, for accompanying the first constitutional revision in 1982 – after having collaborated, in 1978, with Francisco Sá Carneiro on the first constitutional revision project. He also presented and defended in Parliament the Organic Law of the Constitutional Court, which would replace the Council of the Revolution. President of PSD between 1996 and 1999, he was first vice-president of the European People’s Party in which he joined the Social Democratic Party in 1996.

He was Mayor of Cascais (1979-1982); councilor and leader of the opposition in Lisbon City Council (1990-1993); the municipal and metropolitan deputy, also in Lisbon (1993-1997) and Mayor of Celorico de Basto (1997-2005).

He was a member of the Council of State in the mandates of Presidents Jorge Sampaio (2000-2001) and Aníbal Cavaco Silva (2006-2016).

He was a member of the Council (1995-2012) and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Casa de Bragança Foundation (2012-2016).

He is patron of the Municipal Library of Celorico de Basto.