Pedro Passos Coelho
Pedro Passos Coelho in 2012
Prime Minister of Portugal
In office
21 June 2011 – 26 November 2015
PresidentAníbal Cavaco Silva
DeputyPaulo Portas
Miguel Relvas (de facto)
Miguel Poiares Maduro
Preceded byJosé Sócrates
Succeeded byAntónio Costa
President of the Social Democratic Party
In office
9 April 2010 – 18 February 2018
Preceded byManuela Ferreira Leite
Succeeded byRui Rio
President of the Social Democratic Youth
In office
March 1990 – December 1995
Preceded byCarlos Coelho
Succeeded byJorge Moreira da Silva
Member of the Assembly of the Republic
In office
23 October 2015 – 24 October 2019
In office
20 June 2011 – 22 October 2015
ConstituencyVila Real
In office
4 November 1991 – 24 October 1999
Personal details
Pedro Manuel Mamede Passos Coelho

(1964-07-24) 24 July 1964 (age 57)
Coimbra, Portugal
Political partySocial Democratic Party
Fátima Padinha
(m. 1985; div. 2003)

Laura Ferreira
(m. 2005; d. 2020)
Alma materUniversidade Lusíada

Pedro Manuel Mamede Passos Coelho (Portuguese pronunciation: [ˈpedɾu mɐˈnwɛɫ mɐˈmɛðɨ ˈpasuʃ ˈkwɐʎu]; born 24 July 1964) is a Portuguese politician and university guest lecturer who is the former 118th Prime Minister of Portugal, in office from 2011 to 2015. He was the leader of the Social Democratic Party (PSD) between 2010 and 2018.

Passos Coelho started very early in politics and was the national leader of the youth branch of PSD. He led the XIX Governo Constitucional (19th Constitutional Government of Portugal) and the XX Governo Constitucional (20th Constitutional Government of Portugal) as head of government from 21 June 2011 to 26 November 2015. His term in office oversaw the application of the European troika bailout to Portugal and was marked by a wave of widespread austerity in both Portugal and abroad.[1][2][3]

Early years

Pedro Passos Coelho was born in the parish of Sé Nova in Coimbra, Portugal, on 24 July 1964. He is the youngest son of a medical doctor, António Passos Coelho (born in Vale de Nogueiras, Vila Real 31 May 1926 – 4 February 2019) and Maria Rodrigues Santos Mamede (born in Santana da Serra, Ourique, c. 1930), a nurse whom António married in 1955. He has an older sister, Maria Teresa Mamede Passos Coelho, a medical doctor,[4] and an older brother, Miguel Mamede Passos Coelho, who was born with cerebral palsy.[5][6]

He spent his childhood in Angola — then one of Portugal's overseas possessions — where his father practiced medicine. After the Carnation Revolution in 1974 and the independence of the territory as the People's Republic of Angola, he returned with his family to Europe and settled in Vila Real, in northern Portugal.

He started very early in politics, as a 14-year-old boy, and had a long and prominent career in the youth branch of the Social Democratic Party (PSD), the JSD, where he was a member of the National Council (1980–1982). As a young student, his academic interests, vocations and ambitions were directed towards a future career in medicine, to follow his father and older sisters' steps, or instead mathematics. However, his largest ambition and vocation revolved around politics.[7]


Passos Coelho moved to Africa at five years of age, and studied in basic schools of the cities of Silva Porto and later Luanda, in the former Portuguese territory of Angola, until the age of 10. His parents went to the Portuguese African territory of Angola to work there among the native rural populations who were plagued by tropical diseases such as tuberculosis. Firstly, Coelho studied in a nun-run Catholic school, then in the public school, and again in another Catholic school run by the Marist Brothers. Then, after the Carnation Revolution in 1974, and the dismantling of the Portuguese Overseas Empire in Africa, he returned to Europe, settling in his grandparents estate, in Valnogueiras, near the city of Vila Real, Norte Region, Portugal. His father only rejoined the family in 1975, the year that Angola became an independent territory known as the People's Republic of Angola. To attend a secondary education institution in Vila Real, the Liceu Nacional Camilo Castelo-Branco (Camilo Castelo-Branco National High School), he moved to the city.[8]

He worked for the youth branch of the PSD party preparing motions and documents, and these time-consuming tasks impacted his final high school grades. As his desire had been to pursue Medicine – as had his father and his sister –, he reduced his political activities for a year to focus on studying (a school year which he had to repeat), aiming to improve his grades in order to reach the high marks needed to enroll at a medical school in Lisbon; during this time, when he was 18 years old, he also started working as a math teacher in Vila Pouca de Aguiar. His final high school average mark was of 16.8 (out of 20), which was 0.2 values short of what was necessary to be admitted into Medicine; therefore, he chose to study Mathematics, at Faculdade de Ciências de Lisboa. He did not, however, finish his degree, having instead elected to work full-time in his party's youth branch – his new life in the capital city of Portugal having probably been a driving factor in this decision.[9] In 1987, he was elected vice-president of JSD, and president in 1991. The following year, aged 24 years old, his first child was born to Fátima Padinha, a former member of girl band Doce who he would later marry.[10]

After dropping out of the University of Lisbon, he would enroll in 1999 in the Lusíada University, where he would obtain a degree in economics in 2001, when he was 37 years old. By then he had already been member of the parliament between 1991 and 1999, among other attributions (he worked in a public relations capacity during the late 1980s at Qimibro, a metals broker and trading firm founded by José Manuel Bento dos Santos and Eduardo Catroga,[11] after invitation of a cousin who worked there).[12]

Political career

Early career

Starting very early in politics, he had a long career in the youth branch of the Social Democratic Party (PSD), the JSD, where he was a member of the National Council (1980–1982) and Chairman of the Political Committee (1990–1995). He was a Lisbon deputy to the Assembly of the Republic in the VI and VII Legislatures (1991–1999); he also joined the Parliamentary Assembly of NATO (1991–1995) and was vice chairman of the Parliamentary Group of PSD (1996–1999). In 1997, he ran for mayor of Amadora without success, but was elected municipal councillor (1997–2001). After he had been member of the parliament from 1991 to 1999, Passos Coelho became eligible by law to a life pension, however, he declined the offer.

He was awarded a degree in economics by Lusíada University (Lisbon) when he was 37 (2001). He became a consultant with Tecnoformas (2000–2004), consultant of consultants LDN (2001–2004), Director of the Training Department and coordinator of the Program of Seminars URBE – Núcleos Urbanos de Pesquisa e Intervenção (2003–2004). He joined the company Fomentinvest[13] as a CFO (2004–2006) working with Ângelo Correia, chairman of Fomentinvest and also a noted member of PSD. Correia, an experienced member of PSD, is a close friend of Passos Coelho, both inside their party and corporate governance careers, and is considered Passos Coelho's political mentor.[14][15] Passos Coelho became a member of the Executive (in 2007), accumulating the functions of chairman of the Board of the HLCTejo (2007–2009).

He was vice-president of PSD during the leadership of Luís Marques Mendes (2005–2006) and has also been president of the Municipal Assembly of Vila Real Municipality since 2005; he was a presidential candidate for PSD in May 2008, where he proposed for the first time a programmatic review of the party's orientation. Defeated by Manuela Ferreira Leite, he founded, with a group of his supporters, the think-tank Construir Ideias (Building Ideas). On 21 January 2010, his book Mudar ("To Change") was published, and he was again candidate for the leadership of PSD for the direct elections in March 2010; he was elected president of PSD on 26 March 2010.

By 2010, in a context of sovereign default, he helped defeat the Socialist government under the leadership of José Sócrates when it tried to adopt a package of austerity measures to maintain economic stability, leading to the resignation of the prime minister on 23 March 2011, and the general election of 5 June 2011.[16]

Prime Minister of Portugal

Passos Coelho with then Spanish Prime-Minister Rodriguez Zapatero, in October 2011
Passos Coelho with then Spanish Prime-Minister Rodriguez Zapatero, in October 2011

On 5 June 2011, following the 2011 Portuguese legislative election, Passos Coelho was elected Prime Minister of Portugal.[17] He achieved a historical win for his political party PSD, defeating José Sócrates from the Partido Socialista (PS). Through a coalition with CDS-PP, Passos Coelho and PSD were in position to form a right-wing majority in the Portuguese Parliament. Immediately after the election, he started conversations with Christian-Democratic President Paulo Portas to form the coalition.


Passos Coelho's political program was considered by the Portuguese left (Partido Socialista and its communist political allies), which had governed the country during most of the time until the financial collapse of 2010, as strictly aligned with economic liberalism[18][better source needed] and included a firm intention to accomplish the European Union/IMF-led rescue plan for Portugal's sovereign debt crisis. The rescue plan included widespread tax increases and reforms aimed at better efficiency and rationalized resource allocation in the public sector, to reduce the number of unnecessary civil servants and chronic public sector's overcapacity.[19] They also included the privatization of at least one channel of the public radio and television RTP network,[20] the Caixa Geral de Depósitos' insurance operations (including Fidelidade), and some parts of the National Service of Health.[21][22] His coalition partner Paulo Portas of CDS-PP, publicly expressed his disapproval of some of Passos Coelho's proposals.[23] Passos Coelho entered office as a moderate social conservative, with a mixed record on abortion (he voted no in the 1998 referendum and yes in the following in 2007),[citation needed] while opposing euthanasia[24] and same-sex marriage, supporting same-sex civil unions instead.[25] It was not certain if he would try to overrule the previous José Sócrates-led Socialist government laws that allowed abortion until 10 weeks and same-sex marriage in Portugal. During the campaign, he admitted the re-evaluation of the current abortion law[26] approved in 2007, after a referendum, that allowed it under any circumstance until 10 weeks of pregnancy. The law was deemed unconstitutional by 6 of the 13 judge members of the Portuguese Constitutional Court. Other creations of the previous cabinets led by former Prime Minister José Sócrates were criticized by Passos Coelho, including the state-sponsored Novas Oportunidades educational qualification program for unschooled adults, which was dubbed a fraud due to alleged low standards of intellectual rigor and academic integrity.[27] Pedro Passos Coelho and his government cabinet launched the foundations of the Banco Português de Fomento Group and established Portugal's state-owned venture capital and private equity investing arm Portugal Ventures.[28]

Passos Coelho's cabinet

From 21 June 2011 to 26 November 2015, Passos Coelho led the XIX Governo Constitucional (19th Constitutional Government) and the XX Governo Constitucional (20th Constitutional Government). In the fifth vote of confidence the government faced, as called by Os Verdes, the government was scheduled to win a vote despite being opposed by the Communists, Left Bloc and Socialists (if it failed the government would not be able to have another vote). Despite attempts to form a national unity government, Socialist party whip Carlos Zorrinho said that the move was not with the government but that all parties were available for a possible new government. The motion by Os Verdes was initiated on 14 July 2013 during a state of the nation debate. Coelho said that the vote was "very welcome" and would serve as a vote of confidence.[29]


In July 2013, Paulo Portas and Vítor Gaspar resigned from the cabinet over the country's austerity programme. Though Coelho accepted it, he said that the government would continue with the measures and would seek to heal the rift with his coalition partners.[30] Portas eventually retracted his resignation, and became Deputy Prime Minister.

Ministry Incumbent Term
Deputy Prime Minister Paulo Portas 24 July 2013 – 26 November 2015
Finance Vítor Gaspar 21 June 2011 – 1 July 2013
Maria Luís Albuquerque 1 July 2013 – 26 November 2015
Foreign Affairs Paulo Portas 21 June 2011 – 24 July 2013
Rui Machete 24 July 2013 – 26 November 2015
National Defence José Pedro Aguiar Branco 21 June 2011 – 30 October 2015
Internal Administration Miguel Macedo 21 June 2011 – 19 November 2014
Anabela Rodrigues 19 November 2014 – 30 October 2015
José Calvão da Silva 30 October 2015 – 26 November 2015
Justice Paula Teixeira da Cruz 21 June 2011 – 30 October 2015
Fernando Negrão 30 October 2015 – 26 November 2015
Presidency and of Parliamentary Affairs Miguel Relvas 21 June 2011 – 13 April 2013
Luís Marques Guedes 13 April 2013 – 30 October 2015
Carlos Costa Neves 30 October 2015 – 26 November 2015
Economy Álvaro Santos Pereira 21 June 2011 – 24 July 2013
António Pires de Lima 24 July 2013 – 30 October 2015
Miguel Morais Leitão 30 October 2015 – 26 November 2015
Agriculture and Sea Assunção Cristas 21 June 2011 – 26 November 2015
Environment, Spatial Planning and Energy Jorge Moreira da Silva 24 July 2013 – 26 November 2015
Health Paulo Macedo 21 June 2011 – 30 October 2015
Fernando Leal da Costa 30 October 2015 – 26 November 2015
Education and Science Nuno Crato 21 June 2011 – 30 October 2015
Margarida Mano 30 October 2015 – 26 November 2015
Solidarity, Employment and Social Security Pedro Mota Soares 21 June 2011 – 26 November 2015
Regional Development Miguel Poiares Maduro 13 April 2013 – 30 October 2015
Luís Marques Guedes 30 October 2015 – 26 November 2015
Administrative Modernization Rui Medeiros 30 October 2015 – 26 November 2015
Culture, Equality and Citizenship Teresa Morais 30 October 2015 – 26 November 2015

Major policies

To accomplish the European Union/IMF-led rescue plan for Portugal's sovereign debt crisis, in July and August 2011, his government announced it was going to cut on state spending and increase austerity measures, including additional tax increases, but it will also have a social emergency package to help the poorest citizens. As time went on it became increasingly clear that a series of supplementary measures would be taken during the course of the year as a means to restrain an out-of-control budget deficit. These included sharp cuts in spending on state-run healthcare, education and social security systems. His cabinet enforced reforms of the local administration to save money by avoiding unnecessary resource allocation and redundancy. This included extinguishing the 18 Civil Governments (Governo Civil) located across the country[31] and a large number of parishes.[32] According to the Instituto Nacional de Estatística, there were 4,261 parishes in Portugal in 2006. The reform implemented according to Law 11-A/2013 of 28 January 2013, which defined the reorganization of the civil parishes, reduced the number of parishes to 3,091. Nevertheless, due to Portugal's legal constraints[33] avoiding planned job cuts like those made across several developed countries at the time to fight overspending and overstaffing at municipality level,[34][35][36][37] the 2013 mergers eventually increased the spending with the parishes.[38]

The Portuguese Constitutional Court, with the praise of most unions and opposition party leaders, eventually rejected the equivalent to 20% of the government austerity policies proposed by Passos Coelho and his cabinet.[46] Most of the rejected proposals were related with labor market flexibility, public pensions' sustainability, civil servants' privileges and job cuts in the civil service.[33][47][48][49]


During his first year in cabinet, it became clear that the deep economic and financial crisis of Portugal would prompt several policy changes and increasing dissent over the cabinet's judgement. After an inaugural speech in which he promised, in the long run, to stabilize the economy, promote financial growth, employment and protect the ones who needed the most, he moved on to adopt deep austerity measures that, on the view of his detractors, within the first year of government, led to the exact opposite. High paying jobs and pensions were slashed while the lower ones were less affected.[50] In addition, his government had earlier adopted a promoting stance on emigration, often advising the growing number of young unemployed people to leave the country.[41] On 15 September 2012, Passos Coelho and his coalition government faced one of the biggest civil protests in the history of Portuguese democracy, where demands were made for solutions to be put in place. On 21 September 2012, while the Prime Minister and members of the cabinet were meeting with President Aníbal Cavaco Silva, a large number of citizens protested in front of the presidential house, the Belém Palace, some throwing bottles at security forces.[51]


Electoral history

PSD leadership election, 2008

Ballot: 31 May 2008
Candidate Votes %
Manuela Ferreira Leite 17,224 37.9
Pedro Passos Coelho 14,134 31.1
Pedro Santana Lopes 13,427 29.6
Patinha Antão 308 0.7
Blank Ballots 254 0.6
Invalid Ballots 97 0.2
Turnout 45,444 58.95

PSD leadership election, 2010

Ballot: 26 March 2010
Candidate Votes %
Pedro Passos Coelho 31,671 61.2
Paulo Rangel 17,821 34.4
José Pedro Aguiar Branco 1,769 3.4
Castanheira Barros 138 0.3
Blank Ballots 241 0.5
Invalid Ballots 108 0.2
Turnout 51,748 66.26

Personal life

Passos Coelho lives in Massamá, Greater Lisbon. He was married to Fátima Padinha, a former singer in the girl band Doce, with whom he has two daughters, Joana Padinha Passos Coelho (born 1988) and Catarina Padinha Passos Coelho (born 1993). His second marriage was to Laura Ferreira, a physiotherapy technician, born in Bissau, Portuguese Guinea (now Guinea-Bissau, West Africa),[53] with whom he has one daughter, Júlia Ferreira Passos Coelho (born 2007). Laura Ferreira had been fighting cancer since 2014 and died on 25 February 2020.[54]

Apart from his native Portuguese, he can also speak some French and English. After his tenure as Prime Minister of Portugal, he became a teacher at both the Instituto Superior de Ciências Sociais e Políticas (University of Lisbon) and the Lusiada University.

Pedro Passos Coelho studied opera singing, is baritone and even signed up for a Filipe La Féria casting.[55]

See also


  1. ^ EU austerity drive country by country, BBC (21 May 2012)
  2. ^ Zumbrun, Josh (7 November 2014). "The Federal Government Now Employs the Fewest People Since 1966". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 4 November 2021.
  3. ^ Hutchens, Gareth (4 January 2015). "Why this obsession with cutting public service jobs?". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 4 November 2021.
  4. ^ (in Portuguese) Zita Seabra, Três razões para apoiar Pedro Passos Coelho, Jornal de Notícias (21 March 2010)
  5. ^ (in Portuguese) Pedro Passos Coelho – Tragédia na Família Archived 3 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine, TV Guia (1 June 2011)
  6. ^ (in Portuguese) Perfil: Passos Coelho, um "liberal" na política desde a adolescência Archived 28 September 2011 at the Wayback Machine, Diário de Notícias (15 June 2011)
  7. ^ PEDRO PASSOS COELHO (Portuguese Government)
  8. ^ (in Portuguese) Pedro Passos Coelho. Um miúdo sério à solta no PSD Archived 9 August 2011 at the Wayback Machine, i online (3 April 2010)
  9. ^ Como Passos se preparou para ser primeiro-ministro (Expresso)
  10. ^ (in Portuguese) Racional, gestor, tímido, barítono: Pedro Passos Coelho é um líder natural Archived 13 September 2012 at the Wayback Machine, "Aos 21 anos, foi viver com uma cantora das Doce, Fátima Padinha, por quem estava apaixonado, sem ter casado com ela. Ainda sem estar casado, teve a primeira filha", Público (17 June 2011)
  11. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 12 March 2008. Retrieved 16 June 2011.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  12. ^ Visum, Dis Aliter. "Cidade Lusa: Biografia de Pedro Passos Coelho". Retrieved 13 October 2017.
  13. ^ "Fomentinvest SGPS". Retrieved 13 October 2017.
  14. ^ (in French) L'austérité n'attend point le nombre d'années, Courrier International (7 June 2011)
  15. ^ (in Portuguese) Ângelo Correia apoia Passos Coelho para liderar PSD Archived 10 September 2012 at the Wayback Machine, Público (28 May 2008)
  16. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 18 October 2012. Retrieved 6 September 2011.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  17. ^ Tremlett, Giles; agencies (5 June 2011). "Pedro Passos Coelho set for big election win as Portugal swings right". The Guardian. Retrieved 13 October 2017.
  18. ^ Quem tem medo de Passos Coelho? (Observador)
  19. ^ (in Portuguese) Administração Pública obrigada a emagrecer 1% ao ano, (21 June 2011). Archived from the original on 28 September 2011
  20. ^ Passos Coelho explica a decisão de adiar a privatização da RTP (RTP)
  21. ^ O que ganhamos com as privatizações? (Observador)
  22. ^ Passos Coelho surpreendido com movimentos contra privatização do SNS e da RTP (RTP)
  23. ^ Paulo Portas: De ministro demissionário “irrevogável” a vice de Pedro Passos Coelho (Jornal de Negócios)
  24. ^ Coelho, Pedro Passos. "Mais do que uma questão de consciência". Observador. Retrieved 22 October 2021.
  25. ^ Passos Coelho a favor da união civil entre homossexuais (
  26. ^ (in Portuguese)Pedro Passos Coelho Admits Re-evaluation of the Current Abortion Law, Diário de Notícias, 26 May 2011 Archived 20 August 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  27. ^ (in Portuguese) Passos Coelho promete reformular "escândalo" das Novas Oportunidades, Jornal de Negócios (16 May 2011)
  28. ^ A saga do Banco de Fomento (Observador)
  29. ^ "Gov't faces yet another no-confidence vote". Retrieved 13 October 2017.
  30. ^ "Portugal PM vows to stay despite resignations". Al Jazeera. Retrieved 13 October 2017.
  31. ^ (in Portuguese) Demissões aceleram extinção dos governos civis, Jornal de Negócios (22 June 2011))
  32. ^ (in Portuguese) Governo admite extinção de 1.500 freguesias, TVI24 (5 October 2011)
  33. ^ a b "Lei da mobilidade especial é inconstitucional". (in Portuguese). Retrieved 4 November 2021.
  34. ^ "Revealed: Nearly 80,000 Jobs Lost In Radical Council Upheavals". HuffPost UK. 7 March 2019. Retrieved 4 November 2021.
  35. ^ "How cuts changed council spending, in seven charts". BBC News. 5 December 2018. Retrieved 4 November 2021.
  36. ^ House, Jonathan (23 October 2013). "U.S. Cities Still Reeling from Great Recession". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 4 November 2021.
  37. ^ Lucas, Clay (22 April 2015). "Council services and jobs will be cut by rates cap: Australian Services Union". The Age. Retrieved 4 November 2021.
  38. ^ Sofia Luz, Carla (18 February 2017). "Fusão de freguesias fez crescer despesa" [Parish mergers made spending to grow] (in Portuguese). Jornal de Notícias. Retrieved 25 June 2018.
  39. ^ (in Portuguese) Gaspar: alternativa aos cortes seria saída de 100 mil funcionários públicos, Expresso
  40. ^ (in Portuguese) PS quer acabar com regime de requalificação na função pública, SAPO24 (7 November 2015)
  41. ^ a b (in Portuguese) Portugueses não querem um primeiro-ministro que lhe diga emigrem para o estrangeiro, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, ionline (19 December 2011)
  42. ^ (in Portuguese) Emigrem, mas legalmente, Edição das Sete, TVI24 (27 December 2011)
  43. ^ Portugal Brings Back 'Golden Visas' For Wealthy Foreign Investors, VICE News (17 July 2015)
  44. ^ Pereira, Ana Cristina (10 February 2019). "Os ciganos portugueses começam a "sair da clandestinidade"" [The Portuguese Gypsies are starting to “come out of hiding”] (in Portuguese). Público. Retrieved 17 May 2020.
  45. ^ "Resolução do Conselho de Ministros 25/2013, 2013-04-17".
  46. ^ Miranda, Elisabete; Almeida Pereira, Catarina (27 November 2013). "Constitucional deixou passar 80% da austeridade" [Constitutional Court let pass 80% of the austerity] (in Portuguese). Jornal de Negócios. Retrieved 25 June 2018.
  47. ^ O tribunal errou
  48. ^ Os provilegiados da ADSE
  49. ^ Passos Coelho "respeita" veto de Cavaco mas não altera diploma da ADSE
  50. ^ Passos Coelho anuncia mais sacrifícios para trabalhadores e pensionistas
  51. ^ (in Portuguese) "Detidas já cinco pessoas frente ao palácio de Belém", Diário de Notícias (21 September 2012)
  52. ^ a b c "Cidadãos Nacionais Agraciados com Ordens Estrangeiras". Página Oficial das Ordens Honoríficas Portuguesas. Retrieved 29 January 2017.
  53. ^ (in Portuguese) Laura, mais do que a esposa de Pedro Passos Coelho Archived 6 October 2011 at the Wayback Machine, ASemana
  54. ^ Mulher de Passos enfrenta o quarto cancro
  55. ^ Racional, gestor, tímido, barítono: Pedro Passos Coelho é um líder natural (Público)