Prime minister: Jose Socrates
Victory in February 2005 elections went to the Socialist Party led by Jose Socrates. The Socialists gained their first absolute majority in parliament since democracy returned to Portugal in 1974.
On taking office, Mr Socrates said his priority would be to revive the economy – which has been near the bottom of the European league tables for years – and to stem rising unemployment.
His government has since sharply cut spending, by reducing pensions, raising the retirement age and withdrawing civil service benefits in an attempt to reduce one of Europe’s biggest budget deficits.
The reforms – which some claim are destroying social rights – have prompted repeated protests mostly among public sector workers.
Mr Socrates was 47 when the elections took place. He served as environment minister in the last Socialist government and became the party’s leader in 2004.
President Sampaio had called the elections early amidst growing discontent over the failure of the previous centre-right government led by Pedro Santana Lopes to tackle the country’s mounting economic problems.