Leader of the Opposition (Portugal)

The Leader of the Opposition (Portuguese: Líder da Oposição) is an unofficial, mostly conventional and honorary title traditionally held by the leader of the largest party in the Assembly of the Republic – the Portuguese parliament – not within the government; historically, since the Carnation Revolution of 1974, these have almost always been the Socialist and the Social Democratic Parties.

Leader of the Opposition
Líder da Oposição
Rui Rio

since 18 February 2018
Term lengthNo fixed term
While leader of the largest political party not in government
Inaugural holderFrancisco de Sá Carneiro
(of the Third Republic)
Formation23 July 1976 (informally)

Currently, the Socialist Party holds a minority government. The Opposition consists of the Social Democratic Party, the Left Bloc, the Portuguese Communist Party, CDS – People's Party, People–Animals–Nature, Ecologist Party "The Greens", Enough!, Liberal Initiative, and LIVRE.

The current Leader of the Opposition is Rui Rio, since 18 February 2018, after having been elected President of the Social Democratic Party on the previous 13 January.


Due to its workings being based mostly on custom and convention, the Leader of the Opposition has a small official role, even though it is legally, honorifically, and nominally recognised. Law No. 40/2006, that establishes the order of precedence of public authorities in general official acts, places the Leader of the Opposition in eighth place in the list of precedences, only behind the President of the Republic, the legislative speaker, the sitting Prime Minister of Portugal, the presidents of the Supreme Court and the Constitutional Court, the presidents of the Supreme Administrative Court and the Court of Auditors, former presidents of the Republic, and sitting government ministers.[1]

Even though the Leader of the Opposition is not entitled to a specific salary aside from the one they may have by reason of holding a public office on their own – such as that of deputy – the officeholder usually receives much more attention from the media in parliamentary sessions and activities. It is not, however, required for a Leader of the Opposition to hold the post of deputy in the Assembly of the Republic – Rui Rio, who currently leads the Opposition, held no parliamentary seat[2] until 25 October 2019.

Graphical timeline (since 1976)

List of Leaders of the Opposition

Colour key
(for political parties)
  Portugal Ahead (PàF)
Date Main Opposition Party Party Leader Prime Minister
23 July 1976 PSD Francisco Sá Carneiro Mário Soares
16 April 1977 António de Sousa Franco
15 April 1978 José Menéres Pimentel
2 July 1978 Francisco Sá Carneiro
29 August 1978 PS Mário Soares Alfredo Nobre da Costa
22 November 1978 Carlos Mota Pinto
1 August 1979 Maria de Lourdes Pintasilgo
3 January 1980 Francisco Sá Carneiro
4 December 1980 Diogo Freitas do Amaral (acting)
9 January 1981 Francisco Pinto Balsemão
9 June 1983 PCP Álvaro Cunhal Mário Soares
6 November 1985 PS Mário Soares Aníbal Cavaco Silva
13 November 1985 António Macedo
29 June 1986 Vítor Constâncio
6 November 1988 Jorge Sampaio
23 February 1992 António Guterres
28 October 1995 PSD Fernando Nogueira António Guterres
29 March 1996 Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa
1 May 1999 José Manuel Durão Barroso
6 April 2002 PS Eduardo Ferro Rodrigues José Manuel Durão Barroso
17 July 2004 Pedro Santana Lopes
24 September 2004 José Sócrates
12 March 2005 PSD Pedro Santana Lopes José Sócrates
10 April 2005 Luís Marques Mendes
28 September 2007 Luís Filipe Menezes
31 May 2008 Manuela Ferreira Leite
26 March 2010 Pedro Passos Coelho
21 June 2011 PS José Sócrates Pedro Passos Coelho
23 July 2011 António José Seguro
22 November 2014 António Costa
26 November 2015 PSD Pedro Passos Coelho António Costa
18 February 2018 Rui Rio

Leaders of the Opposition by time in office

Longest serving Leader of the Opposition Mário Soares, 4 years, 291 days.
Shortest serving Leader of the Opposition Pedro Santana Lopes, 29 days.
Rank by
of terms
LeaderLength by
time served
Number of
1Mário Soares4 years, 291 days2Socialist
2Jorge Sampaio3 years, 257 days1Socialist
3António Guterres3 years, 247 days1Socialist
4Pedro Passos Coelho3 years, 171 days2Social Democratic
5Rui Rio3 years, 167 days (Incumbent)1Social Democratic
6António José Seguro3 years, 122 days1Socialist
7Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa3 years, 33 days1Social Democratic
8José Manuel Durão Barroso2 years, 340 days1Social Democratic
9Eduardo Ferro Rodrigues2 years, 171 days1Socialist
Luís Marques Mendes2 years, 171 days1Social Democratic
10Álvaro Cunhal2 years, 150 days1Communist
11Vítor Constâncio2 years, 130 days1Socialist
12Francisco Sá Carneiro2 years, 87 days2Social Democratic
13Manuela Ferreira Leite1 year, 299 days1Social Democratic
14António Costa1 year, 4 days1Socialist
15António de Sousa Franco364 days1Social Democratic
16Luís Filipe Menezes246 days1Social Democratic
17António Macedo228 days1Socialist
18José Sócrates201 days2Socialist
19Fernando Nogueira153 days1Social Democratic
20José Menéres Pimentel78 days1Social Democratic
21Pedro Santana Lopes29 days1Social Democratic


  1. "Law of Precedences in the Portuguese State Protocol". Law No. 40/2006 of 25 August 2006. Diário da República (in Portuguese). Retrieved 19 February 2018.
  2. Paula Sá. "Os outros desafios de Rui Rio". Diário de Notícias (in Portuguese). Retrieved 19 February 2018.

See also