Viewing cable 09LISBON553

09LISBON5532009-10-23 16:59:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Lisbon
DE RUEHLI #0553/01 2961659
O 231659Z OCT 09
E.O. 12958: N/A 
REF: A. 05 LISBON 322 
     ¶B. 05 LISBON 314 
     ¶C. LISBON 529 
LISBON 00000553  001.2 OF 002 
¶1. Summary:  In the wake of September 27 Portuguese 
elections, PM Socrates announced his new cabinet on October 
22, naming seven new ministers, including five independents 
and four women for a total of nine independents and five 
women in his 16-member cabinet.  The cabinet will take office 
on October 26, and the new government will have until January 
26 to present its 2010 budget to Parliament.  Foreign 
Minister Amado, Defense Minister Santos Silva, and Finance 
Minister Teixeira dos Santos will provide continuity and 
experience in key ministries; we do not foresee any 
significant shift in policies or interests regarding the 
U.S., EU, or NATO.  End Summary. 
¶2. On October 22, PM Socrates announced his new cabinet with 
seven new ministers.  Six ministers will continue in their 
positions:  Foreign Minister Luis Amado, Finance Minister 
Fernando Teixeira dos Santos, Interior Minister Rui Pereira, 
Science, Technology and Higher Education Minister Mariano 
Gago, Health Minister Ana Jorge, and Minister of the 
Ministerial Council Pedro Silva Pereira.  Two ministers have 
been assigned new portfolios:  former Minister for 
Parliamentary Affairs Augusto Santos Silva was appointed 
Defense Minister, while former Labor Minister Jose Vieira da 
Silva was appointed Minister of Economy.  Lastly, former 
State Secretary for the Presidency of the Council of 
Ministers Jorge Lacao was named Minister of Parliamentary 
Affairs.  Below are the biographies of the seven new cabinet 
members along with the challenges they face.  (Biographies of 
returning ministers were reported in refs A and B.) 
¶3. Justice Minister (Socialist):  Alberto Martins, 64, was 
most recently head of the Socialist parliamentary caucus.  He 
was elected deputy in 1987 and shortly thereafter joined the 
Socialist Party.  He served as Minister of Public 
Administration under PM Antonio Guterres.  Part of the most 
left-wing faction of the Socialist Party, Martins supported 
Manuel Alegre for PS leadership against Socrates in September 
¶2004.  Martins was born on April 25, 1946 in Guimaraes.  His 
family was involved in the textile industry.  He earned his 
law degree from the University of Coimbra in 1969.  The 
greatest challenge facing Martins will be restoring 
credibility to one of the most polemic ministries in the last 
administration and re-visiting controversial reforms to the 
Penal Code, which was revised in September 2007.  A major 
challenge for the next four years will be implementing the 
reforms initiated by his predecessor Alberto Costa. 
¶4. Public Works Minister (Independent):  Antonio Mendonca, 
55, has a strong business administration background, having 
served two terms as Chairman of the Board of the School of 
Economics and Management (ISEG) of the Technical University 
of Lisbon.  Following the end of his term two weeks ago, 
Mendonca returned to his former position as professor of 
international economics at ISEG.  He recently signed a 
petition in support of the controversial new Lisbon airport 
project and the Lisbon-Madrid high-speed rail link.  Like his 
predecessor Mario Lino, Mendonca was a member of the 
Communist Party in his youth.  After abandoning the party in 
the early 1990s, he began working independently with 
successive Socialist governments.  Mendonca has a Ph.D. in 
economics from Paris.  His primary challenge will be 
gathering consensus among the opposition for public 
infrastructure projects which may prove to be difficult given 
the opposition Social Democratic Party's resistance to such 
projects and concern over the public debt. 
¶5. Environment Minister (Independent):  Dulce Passaro, 56, 
served as a technical expert in the Ministry of Environment 
focusing primarily on waste management.  Until 1997, she 
worked in the Ministry's Waste Management and Recycling 
Bureau.  Among her areas of responsibility was closing down 
landfills.  When Socrates became Minister of the Environment 
in 1999, he named Passaro chairman of the government's 
Institute for Waste Management (2000 - 2003).  From 2003 to 
the present, she served as board member of the Water and 
Waste Management Regulatory Agency.  Passaro has a degree in 
chemical engineering.  In 1999, she participated in the 
International Visitors Leadership Program on European 
Environmental Protection in the U.S.  The biggest challenge 
for her will be continued implementation of Portugal's 
climate change policy, which will require meeting 
ever-demanding international commitments and balancing 
environmental priorities with the competing interests of 
other ministries. 
¶6. Education Minister (Independent):  Isabel Alcada, 59, 
developed the Socialist Party's education policy for the 
LISBON 00000553  002.2 OF 002 
recent legislative electoral campaign.  Since 2006, she has 
been the coordinator of the National Reading Plan, which has 
been successful in raising the reading level of primary and 
secondary school students throughout the country.  Alcada, a 
history and Portuguese language professor, earned a B.A. in 
philosophy from Lisbon University and a M.A. in educational 
sciences from Boston University (1982-83).  She is co-author 
of a popular series of adventure books for teenagers and a 
well-known trainer of teachers throughout the country. 
Alcada is married to Rui Vilar, president of the Gulbenkian 
Foundation.  Her biggest challenge will be making peace with 
Portugal's 150,000 public school teachers who opposed 
Socrates' educational sector reform (ref C).  Her chances of 
success will depend on the government's willingness to 
re-visit sensitive issues such as performance evaluation and 
promotion of teachers. 
¶7. Agriculture Minister (Independent):  Antonio Serrano, 44, 
is one of the relative unknowns of the new cabinet.  He 
served as a member of the Alentejo Regional Operational 
Program and as Chairman of the Board of Espirito Santo 
Hospital in Evora.  As Chairman, he launched the construction 
of a new hospital center and inaugurated a radiology unit, 
projects that had been stalled for decades.  Serrano is a 
professor at Evora University.  He has a Ph.D. in business 
administration, and no prior political experience.  He served 
only in a technical position in the Agro-Policy Planning 
Office in the Ministry of Agriculture.  Serrano has the 
difficult job of pacifying a sector that has been rife with 
workers' protests.  He also faces the Herculean task in a 
time of budget constraint of increasing the Ministry's budget 
to enable the GOP to make its mandatory 25-percent 
contribution to the EU agricultural program, or see Portugal 
lose its EU agricultural funds in 2010.  The influential 
Portuguese Agricultural Confederation said it would be a 
"test of fire" for the new minister and promised its support. 
¶8. Labor and Social Security Minister (Socialist):  Helena 
Andre, 48, has long been active in the Portuguese labor 
movement.  Since 1981, Andre has been affiliated with the 
Portuguese General Workers Union (UGT), first representing 
the UGT in Brussels and later becoming Deputy Secretary 
General of the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC).  It 
is widely believed that she would have been appointed ETUC 
Secretary General in 2011.  Together with her predecessor at 
Labor, Vieira da Silva, she drew up the Socialist Party's 
labor platform for the recent parliamentary elections. 
Andre's primary challenge will be addressing the high rate of 
unemployment and proving her negotiation skills with both 
labor unions and employers to ensure mutually beneficial 
results.  Andre has a degree in modern languages and 
literature from Lisbon University. 
¶9. Culture Minister (Independent):  Maria Gabriela 
Canavilhas, 48, served as head of the Lisbon Metropolitan 
Orchestra (2003 - 2008), where she carried out a major 
restructuring program.  Since November 2008, she has been the 
Regional Director for Culture in the Azores.  Her greatest 
challenge, like all Culture Ministers before her, will be 
attaining the mythical goal of one percent of the government 
budget for her ministry.  Historically the weakest and 
poorest of the ministries, Culture has suffered from a very 
tight budget.  Canavilhas has a degree in musical sciences 
from New Lisbon University and an extensive musical 
background as a concert pianist who has recorded seven CDs 
and performed around the world.  She is a member of the Board 
of Trustees of the Luso-American Development Foundation 
(FLAD), and a close contact of the American Consulate in the 
Azores.  Born in Angola to Azorean parents, Canavilhas grew 
up in the Azores and currently resides in Lisbon. 
¶10. Comment:  The new government faces numerous challenges as 
a minority government.  This new cabinet promises continuity 
and experience, along with new energy, to overcome those 
challenges and advance its agenda.  With the continuation of 
experienced politicians in key ministries, Portugal's 
relations with the U.S., as well as its relations with the EU 
and NATO, will not significantly change over the next four 
¶11. Post will report further on the new cabinet and the 
upcoming budget debate. 
For more reporting from Embassy Lisbon and information about Portugal, 
please see our Intelink site: ugal