José Sócrates

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José Sócrates
117th Prime Minister of Portugal
In office
12 March 2005 – 21 June 2011
President Jorge Sampaio
Aníbal Cavaco Silva
Preceded by Pedro Santana Lopes
Succeeded by Pedro Passos Coelho
Secretary-General of the Socialist Party
In office
24 September 2004 – 23 July 2011
Preceded by Ferro Rodrigues
Succeeded by António José Seguro
Minister of Social Infrastructure
In office
23 January 2002 – 6 April 2002
Prime Minister António Guterres
Preceded by Eduardo Ferro Rodrigues
Succeeded by Luís Valente de Oliveira
Minister of the Environment
In office
25 October 1999 – 6 April 2002
Prime Minister António Guterres
Preceded by Elisa Ferreira
Succeeded by Arlindo Cunha
Assistant Minister of the Prime Minister
In office
25 November 1997 – 25 October 1999
Prime Minister António Guterres
Preceded by Jorge Coelho
Succeeded by Armando Vara
Assistant Secretary of State of the Minister of the Environment
In office
28 October 1995 – 25 November 1997
Prime Minister António Guterres
Preceded by Joaquim Poças Martins
António Taveira da Silva
Succeeded by José Guerreiro
Personal details
Born José Sócrates Carvalho Pinto de Sousa
(1957-09-06) 6 September 1957 (age 62)
Alijó, Portugal
Political party Social Democratic Party
(Before 1981)
Socialist Party
Spouse(s) Sofia Costa Pinto Fava (Divorced)
Children José Miguel
Alma mater Polytechnic Institute of Coimbra
Lusíada University
Polytechnic Institute of Lisbon
Independente University
University Institute of Lisbon

José Sócrates Carvalho Pinto de Sousa, GCIH (born 6 September 1957), commonly known as José Sócrates (Portuguese pronunciation: [ʒuˈzɛ ˈsɔkɾɐtɨʃ]), is a Portuguese politician who was the Prime Minister of Portugal from 12 March 2005 to 21 June 2011.

For the second half of 2007, he acted as the President-in-Office of the Council of the European Union. In addition to these posts, José Sócrates was Portugal's Minister for Youth and Sports and one of the organisers of the UEFA Euro 2004 football championship in Portugal, as well as being a former Environment Minister in the governments of António Guterres.

On 23 March 2011, he submitted his resignation to the president after parliament rejected his government's austerity measures in a vote, leading to the Portuguese legislative election of 2011. After losing the election, held on 5 June 2011, he resigned as Secretary-General of the Socialist Party.[1]

On November 21, 2014, he was arrested in Lisbon, accused of corruption, tax evasion, and money laundering, becoming the first ex-PM in the history of the country to be thus accused.[2][3][4] On November 24, Sócrates was remanded in custody on preliminary charges of corruption and tax fraud.[5][6] He was held in the prison of Évora till September 4, 2015 when he left the prison for a relative's house in Lisbon, where he remained under house arrest until October 16, 2015.[7][8] That day, a judge released him from house arrest, allowing him to await the end of the investigation in freedom, although remaining forbidden of leaving the country and of contacting with other suspects of the case.[9][10]


Early years

José Sócrates was born in Porto on 6 September 1957, and was registered as a newborn in Vilar de Maçada, Alijó municipality, in northeastern Portugal, since the locality was his family ancestral homeland. However, the young José Sócrates lived throughout his childhood and teen years with his father, a divorced building designer, in the city of Covilhã, Cova da Beira subregion, in central inland Portugal, in the Centro region. His parents are Fernando Pinto de Sousa (Vilar de Maçada, Alijó, 15 November 1926 – Oporto, 18 July 2011)[11] and wife and remote relative Maria Adelaide de Carvalho Monteiro (b. Vilar de Maçada, Alijó, 8 October 1931). He has two younger siblings, António Carvalho Pinto de Sousa, born circa 1962, and Ana Maria Carvalho Pinto de Sousa, died in 1988. He is a descendant of the illegitimate daughter of António José Girão Teixeira Lobo Barbosa (Porto, , 9 January 1715 – Alijó, Vilar de Maçada), Fidalgo of the Royal Household and Knight of the Order of Christ.[12]


José Sócrates studied in Covilhã's basic and secondary schools, until the age of 18. Then, in 1975, he went to Coimbra in order to attend a higher education institution. He earned in 1979 his 4-year bacharelato[13] degree as a civil technical engineer from the Instituto Superior de Engenharia de Coimbra (established in 1974 and later incorporated into the Instituto Politécnico de Coimbra in 1988). From 1987 to 1993, he attended Universidade Lusíada, a private university in Lisbon, enrolling in law, but dropped out.[14] In 1994/95, already a well-known politician, he briefly attended the Instituto Superior de Engenharia de Lisboa where he completed some academic disciplines in order to get a CESE diploma (a complementary diploma to his bacharelato degree because until 1999 the polytechnic institutions did not offer licenciatura degrees), but instead, under circumstances which would provoke a controversy in 2007, he earned in 1996 the licenciatura (licentiate degree) in civil engineering from the Universidade Independente, a private university in Lisbon which was shut down by Portuguese authorities in 2007/2008.[15] He also has an MBA degree awarded in 2005 by ISCTE, a public university institute in Lisbon, that he obtained after had attended successfully the first year of a 2-year master's degree program of ISCTE that he did not complete.[16] After his tenure as Prime Minister of Portugal ended in 2011, the Portuguese newspaper Expresso announced he was leaving the country (together with his elder son) to study philosophy at SciencesPo for two semesters in Paris, France.[17]

Political career

José Sócrates was one of the founders of JSD (the youth branch of PSD – Portuguese Social Democratic Party) before changing his political affiliation and applying for membership in the PS – Portuguese Socialist Party. He has been a member of the Socialist Party since 1981. José Sócrates served as a technical engineer for the Covilhã City Council, and has been elected a member of the Portuguese Parliament since 1987, representing the Castelo Branco electoral district. While serving as the chairperson of the Castelo Branco Federation of the Socialist Party (1983–1996), he was elected to the Party's National Secretariat in 1991. José Sócrates was ousted by the Board of the Guarda Municipality in 1990 and 1991, after being warned several times because of poor quality of construction projects and lack of monitoring of the construction works. Sócrates was threatened with disciplinary action for wrongdoings in the technical direction of particular works of whose projects he was the author, but despite being ousted from this capacity, he was never penalized. In addition, as a Member of the Parliament, Sócrates was not allowed by law to work as a technical engineer between 1987 and 1991.[18] From 1989 to 1996, he served as a member of the Covilhã Municipal Assembly. He served as spokesperson on environmental affairs for the Socialist Party from 1991 to 1995. In 1995, he entered government as secretary of state for Environment in the first government of António Guterres. Two years later, Sócrates became Minister for Youth and Sports and was one of the organizers of the EURO 2004 cup in Portugal. He became Minister for Environment in Guterres' second government in 1999. Following the elections of 2002 (won by José Manuel Durão Barroso), Sócrates became a member of the opposition in the Portuguese Parliament. Meanwhile, he also had a program of political analysis, hosted jointly with Pedro Santana Lopes on RTP. After the resignation of Ferro Rodrigues as party leader in 2004, he won a bid for the post of secretary-general against Manuel Alegre and João Soares, winning the vote of nearly 80% of party members on 24 September 2004. After the victory of his party in the 2005 Portuguese election, Sócrates was called on 24 February by president Jorge Sampaio to form a new government – the 17th Constitutional Government (after 1976). After the Portuguese legislative election of 2009, held on 27 September 2009, José Sócrates was elected for a second term as Prime Minister of Portugal. He was also a Member of the Portuguese Council of State as the Prime-Minister.

Personal life

Family and residence

Sócrates is divorced from Sofia Costa Pinto Fava,[19] an engineer, with whom he has two sons, José Miguel Fava Pinto de Sousa (b. 1993) and Eduardo Fava Pinto de Sousa (b. 1995). Sofia is a daughter of José Manuel Carvalho Fava, an architect, and Clotilde Mesquita (daughter of Armando Mesquita and Palmira da Costa Pinto), engineer and sister of Alexandre Mesquita Carvalho Fava and Mara Mesquita Carvalho Fava. Sócrates lives in Lisbon, although he used to be a registered elector of the municipality of Covilhã, the place where he voted until the law was changed (since after the mid-2000s every person votes in one's residential area).

Health and well-being

José Sócrates had photos of himself taken during his morning jog at places like the Red Square in Moscow, Rio de Janeiro's Copacabana, Luanda, and Lisbon. In January 2008, a smoking ban came into force in Portugal's public buildings and on public transport, but Sócrates was reported to have been smoking in May during a private state flight to Venezuela where he met Hugo Chávez. He has since admitted it was a mistake, apologized and promised to quit smoking. In addition, he claimed he was not aware he was breaking the law when he did so.[20] However, by 2012, after he had left the spotlight, the Portuguese newspaper Diário de Notícias reported he was no longer a non-smoker.[21]

Prime Minister of Portugal

After the Portuguese legislative election of 2005, Sócrates was called on 24 February by president Jorge Sampaio to form a new government. Sócrates and his first government (XVII Governo Constitucional) took office on 12 March 2005.

After the Portuguese legislative election of 2009, held on 27 September 2009, José Sócrates was elected for a second term as Prime Minister of Portugal. The new government was sworn into office on 26 October 2009.

On 5 June 2011, after the Portuguese legislative election of 2011, the victory of Social Democratic Party (Portuguese: Partido Social Democrata) led by Pedro Passos Coelho, forced his resignation as Secretary-General of the Socialist Party.

Sócrates government

Sócrates headed the government beginning on 12 March 2005, comprising the XVII and XVIII Governos Constitucionais (17th and 18th Constitutional Governments).


Ministry Incumbent Term
State and Internal Administration António Costa 13 March 2005 – 17 May 2007
Rui Pereira 17 May 2007 – 5 June 2011
State and Foreign Affairs Diogo Freitas do Amaral 13 March 2005 – 3 July 2006
Luís Amado 3 July 2006 – 5 June 2011
State and Finances Luís Campos e Cunha 13 March – 21 July 2005
Fernando Teixeira dos Santos 21 July 2005 – 5 June 2011
Presidency Pedro Silva Pereira 13 March 2005 – 5 June 2011
National Defence Luís Amado 13 March 2005 – 3 July 2006
Nuno Severiano Teixeira 3 July 2006 – 26 October 2009
Augusto Santos Silva 2 October 2009 – 5 June 2011
Justice Alberto Costa 13 March 2005 – 26 October 2009
Alberto Martins 26 October 2009 – 5 June 2011
Environment Francisco Nunes Correia 13 March 2005 – 26 October 2009
Dulce Álvaro Pássaro 26 October 2009 – 5 June 2011
Economy, Innovation and Development Manuel Pinho 13 March 2005 – 2 July 2009
Fernando Teixeira dos Santos 2 July – 26 October 2009
José Vieira da Silva 26 October 2009 – 5 June 2011
Agriculture Jaime Silva 13 March 2005 – 26 October 2009
António Soares Serrano 26 October 2009 – 5 June 2011
Public Works and Communications Mário Lino 13 March 2005 – 26 October 2009
António Augusto Mendonça 26 October 2009 – 5 June 2011
Labour and Social Solidarity José Vieira da Silva 13 March 2005 – 26 October 2009
Maria Helena André 26 October 2009 – 5 June 2011
Health António Correia de Campos 13 March 2005 – 30 January 2008
Ana Jorge 30 January 2008 – 5 June 2011
Education Maria de Lurdes Rodrigues 13 March 2005 – 26 October 2009
Isabel Alçada 26 October 2009 – 5 June 2011
Science, Technology and High Education Mariano Gago 13 March 2005 – 5 June 2011
Culture Isabel Pires de Lima 13 March 2005 – 30 January 2008
José António Pinto Ribeiro 30 January 2008 – 26 October 2009
Maria Gabriela Canavilhas 26 October 2009 – 5 June 2011
Parliamentary Affairs Augusto Santos Silva 13 March 2005 – 26 October 2009
Jorge Lacão 26 October 2009 – 5 June 2011

Major policies

Administrative reforms
José Sócrates and President Dilma Rousseff in 2011

The XVII Governo Constitucional government, headed by Prime Minister José Sócrates, tried to create new rules and implement reforms aiming at better efficiency and rationalized resource allocation in the public sector, fighting civil servant overcapacity (excedentários) and reducing bureaucracy for both citizens and companies (e.g.: empresa na hora,[22] PRACE – Programa de Reestruturação da Administração Central do Estado,[23] and SIMPLEX – Programa de Simplificação Administrativa e Legislativa),[24] among others. Since the XVII Governo Constitucional government (with José Sócrates as Prime Minister and Teixeira dos Santos as Minister of Finance) Portugal's fiscal policy improved with a steady increase of the number of taxpayers and the growth of the receipt amount from State taxation. However these policies had little effect, and the country's public debt and deficit were both out of control by 2010, along with a record high unemployment rate. João Bilhim directed in 2005 the committee responsible for the Programme for Restructuring the State's Central Administration (PRACE) but was said to be disappointed with the results.[25] Several reforms and measures implemented in 2006/2007 by the government (XVII Governo Constitucional – headed by Prime Minister José Sócrates), resulted in improved welfare system financial sustainability but reduced income expectations of future pensioners up to 40%.[26] In addition, economically active people must work for more years before retirement than formerly.[27] A sustainability factor was also introduced, giving employees the option of working longer or receiving slightly lower pensions, as life expectancy forecasts increase. After the Portuguese regionalization referendum of 1998 where the "No" to regionalization of the country into seven regions was victorious, the XVII Governo Constitucional government announced in January 2009[28] its firm intention of starting again a regionalization process for Portugal. According to this governmental project, mainland Portugal was to be regionalized de jure into five regions with a wide range of administrative autonomy, using the already established NUTS 2 system: Alentejo, Algarve, Centro, Lisbon, and Norte. The transformation of the Portuguese public administration from a traditional one to an information technology-based multiplatform service, was praised by the European Commission through its European Union benchmark for the sector, that consecutively placed Portugal in the first position of the ranking in 2009 and 2010.[29]

Technological plan
Chris Dedicoat, Helder Antunes, and Sócrates at the 2008 Cisco Portugal Official Inauguration.

One of the government's main policies was the Plano Tecnológico (Technological Plan), aimed at increasing Portugal's competitivity through the modernization of its economy. The plan consisted of three key areas: knowledge, technology and innovation.[30] A low-cost Intel-based netbook for use by children announced by Sócrates's government cabinet, named Magalhães (after Fernão de Magalhães) and packaged and assembled for the Portuguese school-age children and the low-to-middle income economy export market by the Portuguese company J.P. Sá Couto, headquartered in Matosinhos, Norte region, was among the government's innovations under the Technological Plan. Governmental efforts in the technological domain also included state support of a Portuguese factory that was owned by the German-based semiconductor company Qimonda AG, in Vila do Conde, Norte region, when the parent company filed a bankruptcy petition with the local court in Munich, Germany, in early 2009. Qimonda Portugal was at the time one of the top Portuguese net exporters of technology.[31]

The European Innovation Scoreboard of 2010 placed Portugal-based innovation in 15th position, as a result of an impressive increase in innovation expenditure and output.[32]

Educational reforms

The government allocated more resources for education policy and reorganised the sector aiming more choice and better quality in vocational technical education. Enhanced and improved vocational technical education programs where implemented in 2007 in an effort to revitalize this sector which had been almost discontinued after the Carnation Revolution of 1974. Other education reforms included more financial support for students (in all educational levels), systematic teaching and school evaluation, the compulsory closing of some problematic and unreliable private higher education institutions (like the Independente University and Moderna University) by the Minister for Science, Technology and Higher Education, Mariano Gago, and a will to rank and benchmark the higher education institutions through a newly created state-run agency (the Agência de Acreditação e Avaliação do Ensino Superior). During the XVII Governo Constitucional, the pan-European Bologna Process was fully implemented in Portugal.

On the other hand, the government created a policy of certification and equivalence of qualifications for adult people with low levels of formal education who want a 4th, 6th, 9th or 12th grade equivalence without returning to school (for example, through this process, called Novas Oportunidades,[33][34] adults—18 years old and older—with the 9th grade might be granted an equivalence to the 12th grade after a process ranging from a part-time 3-month programme or a 1-day-per-week 8-month programme; those who have less than 9th grade have a similar programme to get the 9th grade certification and can then apply to the 12th grade programme). The curricula do not include any classical high school discipline or a traditional examination process. These diplomas are awarded based on vaguely construed life experience. Some critics alleged this policy was an effort to make up the poor national statistical indicators on education, with little impact on the quality of the work force's qualification of Portugal in the European Union context.[35][36][37]

According to the OECD's Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), the average Portuguese 15-year-old student was for many years underrated and underachieving in terms of reading literacy, mathematics and science knowledge in the OECD, nearly tied with the Italian and just above those from countries like Greece, Turkey and Mexico. However, since 2010, PISA results for Portuguese students improved dramatically. The PISA 2009 report states that the average Portuguese 15-year-old student, when rated in terms of reading literacy, mathematics and science knowledge, is placed at the same level as those students from the United States, Sweden, Germany, Ireland, France, Danmark, United Kingdom, Hungary and Taipei, with 489 points (493 is the average).[38] However, a couple of weeks later, the Portuguese Ministry of Education announced a 2010 report published by its office for educational evaluation GAVE (Gabinete de Avaliação do Ministério da Educação) which criticized the results of PISA 2009 report and claimed that the average Portuguese teenage student had profund handicaps in terms of expression, communication and logic, as well as a low performance when asked to solve problems.[39]

Transportation developments

Prime Minister José Sócrates and his government team supported the decision of building new transportation infranstructure such as a new airport for Lisbon and a TGV network. For months the government of Prime Minister José Sócrates insisted the country's only option for a new airport was in the Ota region north of Lisbon. But a powerful lobby, headed by local business honchos and given the imprimatur of the Portuguese president Aníbal Cavaco Silva, forced Sócrates's Government into reversal, by bringing an alternative site for the new airport – the Portuguese Air Force's shooting range in Alcochete east of Lisbon. A study commissioned by a group of businesspeople said the Alcochete site would save taxpayers as much as €3bn in construction costs, and would have less of an environmental impact. The government argued that Ota was a key piece of its overall transport strategy, which included highspeed rail lines to Spain, but even so recognized that the project wasn't finalized and that a debate on the pros and cons of both sites would be worthwhile. Then the government commissioned a technical study to the state-run civil engineering laboratory (Portuguese: Laboratório Nacional de Engenharia Civil) comparing both locations one to each other. Following the conclusions of that study, on 10 January 2008 the Prime Minister José Sócrates announced the option Alcochete as the most rational choice for a new airport for Lisbon.


In 2007, the XVII Governo Constitucional, headed by Prime Minister José Sócrates, legalised abortion in Portugal after a referendum. Voters were being asked to decide whether to make abortion legal in the first 10 weeks of pregnancy, if carried out at the woman's request in a registered clinic. Despite the turnout for a referendum being too low (40%; 50% needed) to be legally binding, José Sócrates said: "Our interest is to fight clandestine abortion and we have to produce a law that respects the result of the referendum."[40] This socialist government cabinet also announced its intention to legalize same-sex marriage at some point during its mandate. Same-sex marriage in Portugal was legalized on 17 May 2010.

Also, in 2009, through the Decree-Law 91/2009, the rights of fathers and mothers were equalled under the law (see also Fathers' rights).

After a sharp increase of the violent crime rate in Portugal during the XVII Governo Constitucional government (2005–2009), the Minister of Internal Administration Rui Pereira announced in February 2009 the expansion of the police force through the recruitment of 2,000 new police officers, 7,000 new state-of-the-art police weapons, 1,000 bulletproof vests, among other measures.[41]

Until 2010, for stock held for more than twelve months the capital gain was exempt. The capital gain of stock held for shorter periods of time was taxable on 10%. From 2010 onwards, for residents, all capital gain of stock and other assets above €500 is taxable on 20%. Investment funds, banks and corporations are in general exempted of capital gain tax over stock.

Presidency of the Council of the European Union

José Sócrates, Lula da Silva, José Manuel Barroso and Janez Jansa during the EU-Brazil conference in Lisbon 2007

José Sócrates, as Prime Minister of Portugal, presided over the rotative Presidency of the Council of the European Union for the period July–December 2007.[42] In this post, Sócrates and his team focused on the EU-Brazil (1st EU-Brazil summit) and EU-African Union (2007 Africa-EU Summit) relations, as well as in the approval of the Treaty of Lisbon. The Portuguese Parliament voted to ratify the Treaty of Lisbon on 23 April 2008. After the Irish referendum on 12 June 2008, Prime Minister José Sócrates said he saw the Irish "No" to the treaty as a "personal defeat" after it was signed by EU leaders in the Portuguese capital.[43] A second referendum was held in Ireland in 2009, and the outcome was the approval of the Treaty of Lisbon by all EU member states, including Ireland.

Economic crisis

From 2005 to 2010, José Sócrates' cabinet faced increasing challenges due to economic and financial downturn. Europe's sovereign debt crisis and the lagging Portuguese economy led to huge deficits and rampant unemployment in Portugal. International financial markets compelled the Portuguese Government, like other European governments, to make radical changes in economic policy. Thus on September 2010, the Portuguese Government announced a fresh austerity package following other Eurozone partners, aiming to halve its budget deficit by 2011 with a series of tax hikes and salary cuts for public servants. In 2009, the deficit had been 9.4%, one of the highest in the Eurozone and way above the European Union's Stability and Growth Pact 3% limit. The Portuguese Government earlier targeted a 2011 shortfall of 5.1% but a growing crisis sparked by chronic budget expenditure, massive debt and deficit problems, forced Portugal to take even more difficult measures. In September, pressure from the International Monetary Fund, Ecofin, OECD and the main opposition party, forced Sócrates' cabinet to adopt successive packages of radical austerity measures, contrary to what had been promised during the previous electoral campaigns. A report published in January 2011 by the Diário de Notícias, a leading Portuguese newspaper, demonstrated that in the period between the Carnation Revolution in 1974 and 2010, the democratic Portuguese Republic governments have encouraged over expenditure and investment bubbles through unclear public-private partnerships. This has funded numerous ineffective and unnecessary external consultancy and advising committees and firms, allowed considerable slippage in state-managed public works, inflated top management and head officers' bonuses and wages, causing a persistent and lasting recruitment policy that has boosted the number of redundant public servants. The economy has also been damaged by risky credit, public debt creation and mismanaged European structural and cohesion funds for almost four decades. Apparently, the Prime Minister Sócrates's cabinet was not able to forecast or prevent any of this when symptoms first appeared in 2005, and later was incapable of doing anything to ameliorate the situation when the country was on the verge of bankruptcy in 2011.[44]

On 6 April 2011, having already resigned as Prime Minister, Sócrates went on television to announce that Portugal, facing bankruptcy, would request financial assistance from the IMF (at the time managed by Dominique Strauss-Kahn) and the European Financial Stability Facility, as Greece and the Republic of Ireland had already done. The announcement was made 48 hours after Sócrates had categorically denied the move would be needed.

Fall of government

On 23 March 2011, Sócrates resigned following passage of a no confidence motion sponsored by all five opposition parties in parliament over spending cuts and tax increases.[45] Before the vote, Sócrates had stated that he would resign if the vote for further austerity measures didn't pass.[46] As a result, a general election was held in 5 June 2011.[46]

The Portuguese government fell a day before an EU summit was due to take place to finalise the EU's response to countries requiring a bailout in the future.[47]

After losing the Portuguese legislative election of 2011, held on 5 June 2011, he resigned from Secretary-General of the Socialist Party.


Sócrates–Independente affair

In March 2007, Universidade Independente (UnI), a private university in Lisbon, was placed under investigation for alleged irregularities on several matters.

In that same month, Sócrates' licenciatura degree in civil engineering by Universidade Independente was put under enormous public scrutiny.[15] Journalists found that qualifications awarded did not follow procedure and that four of the five academic disciplines were given in the private university by the same professor, António José Moraes, a socialist government appointee. A fifth academic discipline, "technical English" was given by the Independente's rector. A strong case was built up related to possible false declarations by José Sócrates regarding his university degree, and the way he was awarded this degree in civil engineering. Among other issues, the Independente degree in civil engineering was not an accredited degree, a civil engineering department was not yet established at that university, one examination was sent by fax and Sócrates' diploma was issued on a Sunday, a day on which the university was always closed.

Some Portuguese news media professionals stated that Sócrates or members of his staff, through phone calls, threatened court action against journalists and tried to stop the reportings on his licenciatura degree awarded by UnI.[48] On 9 April 2007, Universidade Independente was closed by government officials after an investigation reported several serious irregularities in the running of this private university.

Under heavy pressure, Sócrates provided his version of the facts on Wednesday 11 April 2007 in a live broadcast interview for the RTP 1 TV channel and RDP radio. The Prime Minister stated he was not favoured by the Universidade Independente to obtain the degree, declared he had been the target of "catty accusations", and defended the authenticity of the degree, though admitting he is not a fully chartered civil engineer.[49] In his official biography at the Portuguese Government's official website Sócrates claimed to have already obtained the qualification of engineer. He later admitted that this was a "lapse", and the government website altered his CV, downgrading "civil engineer" to "diploma in civil engineering". In the interest of accuracy, he should have used "licenciado em engenharia civil" instead of "engenheiro". Before he had been granted the degree, he presented himself as an "engineer" when he was solely a "technical engineer". Portuguese Parliament documents with official information on Sócrates personal data were found, proving such inconsistencies.[50] Sócrates and his staff replied to this by stating that it was probably a misunderstanding in the parliamentary services. After having the licenciatura diploma he used the title "engineer" in several official documents, despite the fact that his unaccredited degree in civil engineering from Universidade Independente was not legally recognized to allow for the use of the title "engineer"; a profession which is regulated in Portugal by the Ordem dos Engenheiros.

José Sócrates was fiercely criticised by members of Portugal's democratic opposition in the Parliament regarding both proved and unproven issues related with this controversy. Nicolau Santos, a television journalist and a director of Expresso newspaper, criticised the controversial series of fait-divers published in Público and claimed that despite the extensive coverage of details, Público's investigation lead to "no definitive conclusion" and might be connected with other issues. In the same tone, several other media personalities, like SIC Notícias' journalist Ricardo Costa, also suggested controversially that SONAE corporation, the parent company of Público newspaper, was behind the beginning of the controversy due to a failed takeover bid of SONAE's telecommunications operator over the largest Portuguese telecom – Portugal Telecom.[51] The complexity of the takeover bid involving the largest Portuguese telecom, prompted State intervention by the Autoridade da Concorrência (The Portuguese Competition Authority).

It was found that a close friend of Sócrates, Armando Vara, was also awarded a diploma by the Universidade Independente days before he was appointed to a high ranking banking administration position in the state-run Caixa Geral de Depósitos, which in turn was strictly opened to candidates holding at last one academic degree in any subject.


State authorities investigated the affair and archived the file on the grounds that the suspicions of falsification and irregularities allegedly attributed to José Sócrates turned out to be formally impossible to prove. On the other hand, the Universidade Independente was investigated by education state authorities in 2007, which resulted in the compulsory closing of that private university due to lack of academic rigour and teaching quality, along with generalized managerial and financial chaos in the institution.

Magalhães computer

A low-cost Intel Classmate PC-based netbook for use by children, announced and sponsored by Sócrates' cabinet, named Magalhães (after Fernão de Magalhães), assembled by the Portuguese company J.P. Sá Couto, was at the centre of a controversy on 7 October 2008, when the company was suspected of €5 million worth of tax evasion.[52] J.P. Sá Couto dismissed all the accusations regarding alleged fiscal fraud within the company.[53] Other major controversy regarding Magalhães computer were the legal issues about public contracting procedure in the agreement involving the Government and the company J.P. Sá Couto. The case led to an investigation that raised other similar issues involving other governmental agreements and public contracts.[54]

Freeport outlet controversy

Since 2005, and, especially again in 2009, it was suggested by some Portuguese and British media that José Sócrates allegedly waived environmental restrictions, following intervention by one of his uncles and a cousin, to grant the British company Freeport a licence to build the Alcochete mall, a gigantic emporium near the Tagus river, developed in part on protected land outside Lisbon in 2002, when he was Minister for Environment of the PM António Guterres cabinet.[55][56] Portuguese authorities have meanwhile insisted José Sócrates was not under investigation, nor was he a suspect, while UK's Serious Fraud Office refused to confirm the veracity of reports emanating in Portugal. José Sócrates also stated the Freeport project was in due compliance with all legal requirements at the time.[57] Júlio Eduardo Coelho Monteiro, a businessman who is an uncle of José Sócrates, told the Portuguese newspaper Sol how he established contact between his nephew and Freeport's representatives.

In a DVD held by the British police and released in March 2009 by the Portuguese media, Charles Smith, a consultant hired to handle the licensing of the Freeport of Alcochete, clearly stated that José Sócrates "was corrupt" and that he received, through a cousin, money to give the green light to the project for the "outlet". The recording revealed by TVI is only part of a conversation of 20 minutes that alongside Charles Smith also included John Cabral, an official of the consultant, and Alan Perkins, director of Freeport. It was the latter who, without knowledge of the other two, has recorded the event, where Smith and Cabral were questioned about the money that left the company to be used for the payment of "gloves" to the current Prime Minister. Charles Smith is one of two defendants in the case Freeport, commercial space on the process of Freeport Alcochete, related to alleged suspicions of corruption in the amendment to the Special Protection Area of the Tagus estuary (ZPET) decided three days before the elections of 2002, through a decree-law, when José Sócrates was Minister of Environment.

The conversation now revealed took place in 2006 with the aim of explaining the large outgoing amounts of money from the company's headquarters in London at the time of approval of the project. According to some sources contacted in London by TVI, José Sócrates remains the main suspect of British police. The British police are now set to send to the Portuguese authorities the 25 volumes of all research done in this process in England. The Serious Fraud Office, which investigates major financial fraud in Britain, has seen its activity limited due to the lack cooperation of the Portuguese authorities in investigating the case. The first official meeting took place only on 17 November 2008 in The Hague, the headquarters of Eurojust, a body which is designed to facilitate judicial cooperation in the EU. The judge Cândida Almeida, director of DCIAP (Central Department for investigation and prosecution), which coordinates the department's prosecutor who investigates the case, refused a joint research proposal by the English. Then have taken note of the DVD. The prosecutor dropped the evidence, arguing that it was not in Portuguese law.[58]

The Eurojust tried to distance itself from the scandal involving its head, José da Mota, a Portuguese, who allegedly put pressure on prosecutors in order to stop a corruption probe involving Portuguese Prime Minister José Sócrates. Two magistrates dealing with the so-called Freeport affair accused José Mota of having tried to persuade them to side-line the investigation at the request of the Portuguese premier and the minister of justice. The premier and Mr Mota's relationship goes back to the late nineties, when they worked in the same government as state secretaries for environment and justice respectively. In 2002, when the new EU body was formed (Eurojust), Mr Mota was transferred to The Hague as Portugal's representative to Eurojust. He was elected head of the judicial co-operation body in 2007, at a time when the so-called Freeport case had already started in Portugal.[59]

On 22 May 2012, Alan Perkins, a Freeport manager between 2005 and 2006, said, under oath in court, that illegal payments had been made to the minister of the Environment. At the time, the minister of the Environment was José Sócrates.

Face Oculta scandal

Another corruption case involving Sócrates is the Face Oculta scandal. On 28 October 2009 the police began investigating a business group headquartered in Ovar. Armando Vara, one of the suspects, is reported to have had "talks" with Sócrates. He denies any involvement, claiming he was only talking to a friend.[60]

In February 2011 the company TMN, that belongs to Portugal Telecom, claimed that, because of an informatics-related problem, all the information and data about the case and related to Armando Vara (ex-vice-president of BCP), Rui Pedro Soares (ex-manager of PT), Mário Lino (ex-minister) and Paulo Penedos (ex-assistant of PT) had disappeared.[61] David Dinis, editor of the Diário de Notícias newspaper, quit his job because of pressure from the director, João Marcelino, to stop this information being spread by the press.[62]

Source of funds to pay for luxury lifestyle in Paris

In November 2014, José Socrates was arrested on suspicions of corruption and money-laundering, when it became apparent that a close friend was holding millions of euros for his benefit. Socrates claims he merely borrowed from his friend, but there are no records of the amounts loaned, which admittedly financed a luxury lifestyle in Paris after Socrates left the government. As of January 2015, Socrates and his friend were in jail pending the conclusion of the judicial enquiry.

References and notes

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  18. (Portuguese) José António Cerejo, Sócrates assinou 21 projectos de casas quando era exclusivo na AR, Público (5 April 2010)
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  26. (Portuguese) Eugénio Rosa, Previsões erradas do governo justificam redução das pensões de reforma, "factor de sustentabilidade, determinará, só ele, uma redução muito grande nos valores das pensões dos trabalhadores que se reformarem no futuro que poderá atingir −20%", "medidas que determinarão, no futuro, uma redução dos valores das pensões de reforma que poderão atingir −40% segundo a OCDE"
  27. (Portuguese) Manuel Esteves, Idade de reforma cresce um a dois anos até 2030, Diário de Notícias
  28. Regionalização: PS/Porto elogia José Sócrates por ter assumido a sua proposta, Rádio e Televisão de Portugal (19 January 2009)
  29. (Portuguese) Portugal em 1.° lugar nos serviços públicos electrónicos, Diário de Notícias (21 February 2011)
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  31. DRAM maker Qimonda files for bankruptcy, ITWorld (23 January 2009)
  32. (Portuguese) Portugal ganha terreno no ranking da inovação, Público (1 February 2011)
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  36. (Portuguese) SPN – Sindicato dos Professores do Norte, Direcção da Área de S. João da Madeira, "A ideia generosa das Novas Oportunidades a massificar-se e a ser aplicada sem condições materiais e humanas, o que a transformará num embuste estatístico para melhorar os índices educativos portugueses."[2][dead link] SPN – Sindicato dos Professores do Norte (Teachers' Union of Norte Region)
  37. (Portuguese) António Figueira, Fernando Sobral in Jornal de Negócios: Um conceito que é uma vergonha Fernando Sobral: “Novas Oportunidades”, como conceito, é uma vergonha. Vende a ideia de que as pessoas que passam a ferro, os caixas de lojas ou os executantes de milhares de tarefas indispensáveis à sociedade, são Zés Ninguém. Cria a noção de que se todos aderirem às “Novas Oportunidades”, o sucesso chegará por e-mail. Alguém, claro, terá de fornecer esses trabalhos aparentemente inúteis neste novo conceito. Mas, a acreditar na lógica do Governo, para isso estão cá os brasileiros, os angolanos, os ucranianos e os que não têm direito às oportunidades. Para Sócrates quem não é célebre não interessa e quem não é reconhecido não tem identidade. Esta campanha do Governo não vende ilusões: trafica desejos. E está a alimentar ainda mais um conceito cruel que se desenvolveu na sociedade portuguesa: conhecem-te, existes. “Novas Oportunidades” é a cara do PS “terceira via” de Sócrates. O sucesso está acima de todos os valores. E deve achincalhar o trabalho útil, mas invisível. “Novas Oportunidades” é, simplesmente, um filme de terror governamental. Com sabor a caramelo.”,
  38. (Portuguese) Alunos portugueses pela primeira vez "perto da média" – relatório PISA, Destak
  39. (Portuguese) Estudo do ministério aponta graves problemas aos alunos portugueses, GAVE (Gabinete de Avaliação do Ministério da Educação) 2010 report in RTP
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  48. (Portuguese) Sofia Branco – José Manuel Fernandes e Sarsfield Cabral disseram ter havido ameaças de processos judiciais, in Público
  49. (Portuguese) José Sócrates espera que entrevista à RTP e RDP tenha sido esclarecedora, in Rádio e Televisão de Portugal
  50. (Portuguese) PSD comunicou a Gama que registos de Sócrates eram assunto encerrado, in Rádio e Televisão de Portugal
  51. Clube de Jornalistas > 1.ª Página > Quando o telefone toca[dead link]
  52. (Portuguese) JP Sá Couto é acusada de fraude e fuga ao IVA, Público
  53. (Portuguese) JP Sá Couto reclama inocência em operação “carrossel”, in Público (23 October 2008)
  54. (Portuguese) Nuno Simas, Fundação das Comunicações em causa – PSD põe Sócrates sob pressão com inquérito ao Magalhães, in Público
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  60. (Portuguese)
  61. "TMN justifica destruição de registos telefónicos do Face Oculta com questões de ordem técnica – Sociedade" (in Portuguese). Publico.Pt. Retrieved 26 March 2011. <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
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External links

Party political offices
Preceded by
Ferro Rodrigues
Secretary-General of the Socialist Party
Succeeded by
António José Seguro
Political offices
Preceded by
Pedro Santana Lopes
Prime Minister of Portugal
Succeeded by
Pedro Passos Coelho
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Angela Merkel
President of the European Council
Succeeded by
Janez Janša