Pedro Passos Coelho
|Prime Minister of Portugal|
21 June 2011 – 26 November 2015
|President||Aníbal Cavaco Silva|
Miguel Relvas (de facto)
Miguel Poiares Maduro
|Preceded by||José Sócrates|
|Succeeded by||António Costa|
|President of the Social Democratic Party|
9 April 2010 – 18 February 2018
|Preceded by||Manuela Ferreira Leite|
|Succeeded by||Rui Rio|
|President of the Social Democratic Youth|
March 1990 – December 1995
|Preceded by||Carlos Coelho|
|Succeeded by||Jorge Moreira da Silva|
|Member of the Assembly of the Republic|
23 October 2015 – 24 October 2019
20 June 2011 – 22 October 2015
4 November 1991 – 24 October 1999
Pedro Manuel Mamede Passos Coelho
24 July 1964
|Political party||Social Democratic Party|
(m. 1985; div. 2003)
(m. 2005; d. 2020)
|Alma mater||Universidade 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.
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, and an older brother, Miguel Mamede Passos Coelho, who was born with cerebral palsy.
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.
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.
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. 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.
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, after invitation of a cousin who worked there).
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 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. 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.
On 5 June 2011, following the 2011 Portuguese legislative election, Passos Coelho was elected Prime Minister of Portugal. 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[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. They also included the privatization of at least one channel of the public radio and television RTP network, the Caixa Geral de Depósitos' insurance operations (including Fidelidade), and some parts of the National Service of Health. His coalition partner Paulo Portas of CDS-PP, publicly expressed his disapproval of some of Passos Coelho's proposals. 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), while opposing euthanasia and same-sex marriage, supporting same-sex civil unions instead. 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 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. 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.
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.
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. Portas eventually retracted his resignation, and became Deputy Prime Minister.
|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|
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 and a large number of parishes. 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 avoiding planned job cuts like those made across several developed countries at the time to fight overspending and overstaffing at municipality level, the 2013 mergers eventually increased the spending with the parishes.
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. Most of the rejected proposals were related with labor market flexibility, public pensions' sustainability, civil servants' privileges and job cuts in the civil service.
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. 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. 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.
|Manuela Ferreira Leite||17,224||37.9|
|Pedro Passos Coelho||14,134||31.1|
|Pedro Santana Lopes||13,427||29.6|
|Pedro Passos Coelho||31,671||61.2|
|José Pedro Aguiar Branco||1,769||3.4|
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), 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.
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.