A civilian government described as centre-right took office on Thursday (3 January) in Lisbon, marking a new chapter in Portugal's history.
GV Government members entering chamber
SV New Prime Minister Francisco Sa Carneiro takes Oath of Office
SV Other members of government signing Oath of Office (2 shots)
SV Portuguese President General Eanes and Sa Carneiro shake hands and Carneiro makes speech in Portuguese
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Background: A civilian government described as centre-right took office on Thursday (3 January) in Lisbon, marking a new chapter in Portugal's history. The new government, headed by Prime Minister Francisco Sa Carneiro, is the first all-civilian cabinet since the 1974 military coup.
SYNOPSIS: The swearing-in ceremony took place in Lisbon's Ajuda Palace, and was conducted by the President, General Antonia Ramalho Eanes. General Eanes had just returned from a visit to the earthquake disaster area in the Atlantic archipelago of the Azores. Relief for victims of the New year's day tragedy will be one of the most urgent tasks of the new government. It also has to tackle Portugal's economic problems including high unemployment and inflation. The government programme is to be presented to parliament by January 14; and the government faces a ten month constitutional deadline to prove itself and secure an election victory next October.
The Sa Carneiro government, the twelfth since the revolution which ended nearly half a century of right-wing dictatorship, is the first since then to command an absolute majority in parliament. It controls 128 of the 250 seats in the Assembly of the Republic following elections in December last year (1979). A victory in the October election this year would put the government back into power for another four years. Dr. Sa Carneiro, a forty-five year old lawyer, is one of nine ministers from his centre-right social democrat party (PSD).
The new 15-man cabinet is the smallest since the revolution. There are five ministers from the Conservative Centre Democrats (COS), the main partners of the PSD, and one independent. The COS ministers are headed by party leader Professor Diogo Freitas Do Amaral, as deputy Prime Minister and foreign minister. The collapse of a COS partnership with the socialists of former premier Dr. Mario Soares sparked the dismissal of Dr. Soares by President Eanes in July last year. The President dissolved parliament last September after failing to find a party basis for a stable government, and the right-wing alliance triumphed at the December polls. Dr. Sa Carneiro succeeds Portugal's first woman prime minister Miss Maria De Lourdes Pintasilgo, who was given the task of preparing the interim elections.