Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa
Marcelo Nuno Duarte Rebelo de Sousa Portuguese pronunciation: [mɐɾˈsɛlu ˈnunu ˈdwaɾtɨ ʁɨˈbelu dɨ ˈsozɐ]; born 12 December 1948) is a Portuguese politician and academic. He is the 20th and current president of Portugal, since 9 March 2016. A member of the Social Democratic Party, though he suspended his party membership for the duration of his presidency, Rebelo de Sousa has served as a government minister, parliamentarian in the Assembly of the Portuguese Republic, legal scholar, journalist, political analyst, law professor and pundit gaining him nationwide recognition prior to his election.(
Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa
|President of Portugal|
|Assumed office |
9 March 2016
|Prime Minister||António Costa|
|Preceded by||Aníbal Cavaco Silva|
|President of the Social Democratic Party|
29 March 1996 – 1 May 1999
|Preceded by||Fernando Nogueira|
|Succeeded by||José Manuel Barroso|
|Leader of the Opposition|
29 March 1996 – 1 May 1999
|Prime Minister||António Guterres|
|Preceded by||Fernando Nogueira|
|Succeeded by||José Manuel Barroso|
|Minister of Parliamentary Affairs|
12 June 1982 – 9 June 1983
|Prime Minister||Francisco Pinto Balsemão|
|Preceded by||Fernando Amaral|
|Succeeded by||António de Almeida Santos|
|Secretary of State of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers|
4 September 1981 – 13 June 1982
|Prime Minister||Francisco Pinto Balsemão|
|Preceded by||José Luís da Cruz Vilaça|
|Succeeded by||Leonor Beleza|
Marcelo Nuno Duarte Rebelo de Sousa
12 December 1948
|Political party||Independent (2016–present)|
Social Democratic Party (1975–2016)
Ana Cristina Motta Veiga
(m. 1972; sep. 1980)
|Relatives||Baltasar Rebelo de Sousa (father)|
|Residence||Belém Palace (official)|
Born in Lisbon, he is the eldest son of Baltasar Rebelo de Sousa (1921–2001) and his wife Maria das Neves Fernandes Duarte (1921–2003). He has said that his mother had Jewish ancestry. He is named after his godfather, Marcelo Caetano, the last prime minister of the Estado Novo regime.
Party politics and academic career
Rebelo de Sousa started his career during the Estado Novo as a lawyer, and later as a journalist. He joined the Popular Democratic Party, becoming a Deputy to the Assembly of the Republic. During that time, he helped draft Portugal's constitution in 1976. Later he rose to Adjoint Minister of Prime Minister Francisco Pinto Balsemão. Together with him he was a co-founder, Director and Administrator of the Expresso newspaper, owned by Pinto Balsemão. He was also the founder of Sedes and the founder and President of the Administration Council of another newspaper, Semanário. He started as a political analyst and pundit on TSF radio with his Exams, in which he gave marks (0 to 20) to the main political players.
In 1989 he ran for President of the Municipal Chamber of Lisbon (Mayor of Lisbon) but lost to Jorge Sampaio, though he did win a seat as City Councilor (Vereador). In that campaign he took a plunge into the waters of the Tagus River to prove they were not polluted despite claims to the contrary. In other local elections, he also became the President of the Municipal Assembly of Cascais (1979–1982) and the President of the Municipal Assembly of Celorico de Basto (1997–2009).
Leader of the PSD, 1996–1999
Rebelo de Sousa was leader of the Social Democratic Party from 29 March 1996 to 27 May 1999 (some weeks before his election as party leader, he declared he would not be a leadership candidate, "not even if Christ came down to Earth"). He created a center-right coalition, the Democratic Alliance, with the People's Party in 1998. He became, however, the Vice-President of the European People's Party–European Democrats. The coalition did not please large parts of its own party, due to the role the People's Party leader, Paulo Portas, had in undermining Aníbal Cavaco Silva's government while director of the weekly O Independente.
Rebelo de Sousa resigned after Portas, in a TV interview, described a private talk they had had concerning this matter. Portas claimed Marcelo, as an anonymous source for O Independente, described in great detail a dinner where he was not present, down to the menu (which included vichyssoise, a cold soup); when Paulo Portas later reneged on the decision of the coalition established between their parties — which was made before that dinner — the term "vichyssoise" became a reference to that "revenge served cold". For these and other inconsistencies, he was called by Manuel Maria Carrilho political gelatin. A speech, in which he condemned the Portuguese habit of expecting a Messiah and a Dom Sebastião, was not well taken. The failure of the coalition led to his public and televised demission.
He had a weekly program of political analysis every Sunday on public TV station RTP after previously having a similar program on the private TV station TVI, where he was introduced as being "the wisest and most perspicacious political analyst of current times". His comments covered everything from politics to sports, including his famous presentations and comments on the newest published books, and they were sometimes controversial, some of the comments being seen as personal and political attacks.
In his analysis, still in TVI, he often attacked Pedro Santana Lopes, accusing him of being "truculent, a cudgeller and resentful", and not "having the profile to be a President of the Republic". This animosity remained until after Santana Lopes became Prime Minister, with a particular commentary on his performance finishing with the statement that he was "worse than the worst Guterres" and that he was "making Guterres look better and pushing them to Belém", leading to a response from Santana Lopes' Government Speaker Rui Gomes da Silva, who accused him of an "involuntary cabal". The president of the network, Miguel Pais do Amaral, asked in a private dinner that Marcelo be more moderate in his attacks, something that Marcelo took as a form of censorship, leading to his exit from the program and the channel. It was after that episode that he was hired by RTP.
Partially in consequence of these events, President Jorge Sampaio dissolved the Assembly of the Republic, a move that also meant dismissing the Government at a time when it had a stable coalition majority, and calling for anticipated elections, which led to the defeat of Santana Lopes and the election of the Socialists under José Sócrates.
In 2010, he left RTP and returned to TVI to do the same program that he had before.
He was a leading figure on the pro-life side of the 2007 abortion referendum. He even founded a website titled "Assim Não" (Not like this), which was divulged with a famous introductory video. It became so well known that it was parodied in Saturday Night Live-fashion by famous humour group Gato Fedorento.
President of Portugal, 2016–present
On 24 January 2016, Rebelo de Sousa was elected as President of Portugal in the first round of voting. He stood as an independent, appealing for moderation and cross-party consensus. During his election campaign, he promised to repair political divisions and the hardship of Portugal's 2011–14 bailout. Unlike his predecessor, Aníbal Cavaco Silva, he had never previously held a top state position.
In March 2020, Rebelo de Sousa asked parliament to authorize a state of emergency to contain the COVID-19 pandemic; this marked the first time the country declared a state of emergency nationwide in 46 years of democratic history.
In December 2020, Rebelo de Sousa announced his intention to run for office again in the 2021 Portuguese presidential election. Marcelo was re-elected president in January 2021, with 60.7% of the votes, the third highest vote margin ever in presidential elections in Portugal since the Carnation Revolution. He was also the first candidate ever to win the vote in all municipalities. Ranging from 51.3% in the Beja District and 72.16% in Madeira.
Rebelo de Sousa, as President of Portugal, has visited the Vatican, Spain, Mozambique, Morocco, Brazil, Switzerland, Cuba, United Kingdom, Greece, United States of America and Angola. The first visit was to the Vatican City to meet the Pope Francis and the Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin. In 2019, he joined President Emmanuel Macron for the traditional Bastille Day military parade in Paris, which honoured European military cooperation and the European Intervention Initiative that year.
On 28 December 2017, Rebelo de Sousa was admitted at Curry Cabral Hospital, in Lisbon, where he was subjected to a surgery to treat an umbilical hernia. The procedure was performed by Eduardo Barroso, a veteran surgeon who is also a close friend of the President since early childhood. After the surgery, Barroso informed the press that all went well and that Marcelo's condition had been known for at least six years, also referring that the surgery was initially due to occur on 4 January 2018. However, on the morning of 28 December, the President felt abdominal pain, and an examination by his official physician, Daniel Matos, revealed that the hernia was incarcerated and required immediate surgery. On 29 December, the Presidency official website published a clinical report, informing that Marcelo was cheerful and recovering well. Rebelo de Sousa was discharged from hospital on 31 December by 12:45 PM, and left the premises by his own foot, while greeted and applauded by some hospital staff and other patients. He lauded the Portuguese National Health Service, considering it an important conquest of democracy.
On 23 June 2018, Rebelo de Sousa felt indisposed and collapsed after a visit to Bom Jesus do Monte sanctuary in Braga, in a day where temperatures were close to 40 °C. He was transported to the hospital where, after several exams, it was revealed the incident was caused by a sudden drop in blood pressure alongside an acute gastroenteritis. He was discharged from hospital later on the same day and was told to rest for some days.
On 8 March 2020, Rebelo de Sousa suspended all his public agenda and returned to his private home in Cascais, entering a voluntary quarantine period for 14 days after being revealed that a group of students from Felgueiras, who had visited Belém Palace some days before, had also been quarantined after a positive case of COVID-19 was detected in their school. On the next day, Marcelo was tested for the virus and returned a negative result; he himself showed up on a balcony of his home to announce the result to the reporters waiting on the outside. Despite the quarantine, he didn't suspend his functions and continued working from home. A second test for the virus was made on 17 March, also returning a negative result. He returned to Belém Palace on the next day but maintained social distancing practices, conducting a meeting of the Council of State through videotelephony. Marcelo would only fully resume his public agenda on 23 March 2020, receiving the Minister of Finance, Mário Centeno, for a meeting at Belém Palace. On 7 April 2020, Rebelo de Sousa revealed that he had taken a serological test, which returned a negative result, therefore concluding that he had not been exposed to the virus.
On 27 July 1972, Rebelo de Sousa married Ana Cristina da Gama Caeiro da Mota Veiga in the parish of São Bento do Mato in Évora. The bride, born on 4 June 1950 in the Santos-o-Velho parish of Lisbon, is the daughter of António da Mota Veiga and Maria Emília da Gama Caeiro and current widow without issue of Jorge Manuel Vassalo Sors Lagrifa (7 May 1948 – 2 February 2005; maternal grandson of Manuel António Vassalo e Silva). In the following years, Sousa and Mota Veiga had two children:
- Nuno da Mota Veiga Rebelo de Sousa (b. São Sebastião da Pedreira, Lisbon, 8 August 1973) and
- Sofia da Mota Veiga Rebelo de Sousa (b. São Sebastião da Pedreira, Lisbon, 27 September 1976).
The couple separated in 1980 but never got divorced, with Sousa citing his Roman Catholic faith as the reason behind his wish to keep up the marital bond. He started dating his former student Rita Amaral Cabral in the 1980s, who at the time was his fellow lecturer at the Faculty of Law of the University of Lisbon. They continue to entertain a casual relationship, but live separately.
Rebelo de Sousa claims to sleep only four to five hours a night and to read two books a day. He is an avid surfer at Guincho Beach in Cascais, on the Portuguese Riviera, and has stated to be a fan of classical music, especially of Giuseppe Verdi.
Honours and awards
Insignia of Office
- Grand Cross of the Order of Prince Henry (9 June 2005)
- Commander of the Order of Saint James of the Sword (9 June 1994)
- Recipient of the Order of Agostinho Neto (6 March 2019)
- Grand Star of the Decoration of Honour for Services to the Republic of Austria (18 June 2019)
- Grand Cordon of the Order of Leopold (22 October 2018)
- Grand Cross of the Order of Stara Planina (30 January 2019)
- 1st Class of the Amílcar Cabral Order (10 April 2017)
- Collar of the Order of Merit (30 March 2017)
- Grand Collar of the Order of Boyaca (13 November 2017)
- Grand Cross of the Grand Order of King Tomislav of the Republic of Croatia (4 May 2018)
- Collar of the Order of the Nile (21 November 2016)
- Collar of the Order of the Cross of Terra Mariana (10 April 2019)
- Grand Cross of the Legion of Honour of the French Republic (26 August 2016)
- Grand Cross of the Order of the Redeemer of Greece (21 April 2017)
- Knight Grand Cross with Cordon of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic (29 November 2017)
- Grand Cross of the National Order of the Ivory Coast (2017)
- Knight (single order) of the Order of the Gold Lion of the House of Nassau of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg (23 May 2017)
- Honorary Companion of Honour with Collar of The National Order of Merit of the Republic of Malta (15 May 2018)
- Member Special Class of the Order of Muhammad of the Kingdom of Morocco (27 June 2016)
- Collar of the Order of the Aztec Eagle (17 July 2017)
- Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Netherlands Lion of the Kingdom of the Netherlands (10 October 2017)
- Collar of the National Order of Merit (Paraguay) (11 May 2017)
- Grand Cross with diamonds of the Order of the Sun of Peru (25 February 2019)
- Grand Cross of the Order of the Republic of Serbia (25 January 2017)
- Recipient of the Order for Exceptional Merits (Slovenia) (31 May 2021)
- Knight of the Collar of the Order of Isabella the Catholic of the Kingdom of Spain (25 November 2016)
- Collar of the Order of Charles III of the Kingdom of Spain (13 April 2018)
- Knight with the Collar of the Order of Pius IX of the Vatican City State (Vatican, 7 July 2016)
- "President says Portugal must respect EU, avoid return to crisis". 9 March 2016. Retrieved 25 December 2018 – via www.reuters.com.
- "Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa suspendeu a militância no PSD". Observador. 1 April 2016. Retrieved 13 July 2020.
- Devemos reconhecer e acarinhar a nossa herança judaica, Diário de Notícias Archived 7 March 2020 at the Wayback Machine
- Teaching staff, Faculty of Law, University of Lisbon [dead link]
- Vince Chadwick (January 24, 2016), Portugal elects Rebelo de Sousa as president Politico Europe.
- "Presidente deu posse a novos membros do Conselho de Estado". Presidência da República Portuguesa. Retrieved 3 February 2018.
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- Victoria Waldersee, Catarina Demony and Sergio Goncalves (March 18, 2020), Portugal's president asks parliament to authorise state of emergency due to coronavirus Reuters.
- Catarina Demony (December 7, 2020), In a Lisbon bakery, Portugal's president announces run for second term Reuters.
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- "Vaticano: Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa em audiência com o Papa Francisco". Agência Ecclesia (in Portuguese). 17 March 2016. Archived from the original on 30 April 2016. Retrieved 29 June 2016.
- Ribeiro, Nuno (16 March 2016). "Marcelo inicia hoje visita oficial ao Vaticano e Espanha". Público (in Portuguese). Archived from the original on 29 June 2016. Retrieved 29 June 2016.
- "Marcelo chegou a Moçambique". TVI (in Portuguese). 3 May 2016. Archived from the original on 6 May 2016. Retrieved 29 June 2016.
- "Em Marrocos, a falar de energia, 'Brexit', Espanha e sanções". Público (in Portuguese). Lusa. 28 June 2016. Archived from the original on 14 October 2016. Retrieved 29 June 2016.
- "Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa em visita oficial ao Brasil". Rádio e Televisão de Portugal (in Portuguese). Retrieved 20 November 2018.
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- "Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa internado em Lisboa para ser operado de urgência". www.dn.pt (in Portuguese). Diário de Notícias. Retrieved 30 December 2017.
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- "Covid-19: Presidente da República revela que fez teste sorológico e não está imunizado". www.visao.pt (in Portuguese). Visão. Retrieved 12 April 2020.
- "Marcelo acusou positivo à covid-19 mas está assintomático" [Marcelo tests positive for COVID-19, but is asymptomatic]. Público (in Portuguese). 11 January 2021. Retrieved 11 January 2021.
- Valente, Liliana. "Marcelo. O show do comentador acaba em Belém?". Observador (in Portuguese). Retrieved 5 December 2019.
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- "Le onorificenze della Repubblica Italiana". www.quirinale.it. Retrieved 25 December 2018.
- HM the King, Portuguese President Hold Tête-à-Tête Talks – website of Ministry of Culture and Communication of the Kingdom of Morocco
- "ACUERDO por el que se otorga la Condecoración de la Orden Mexicana del Águila Azteca, en grado de Collar, al Excelentísimo Señor Marcelo Nuno Duarte Rebelo de Sousa, Presidente de la República Portuguesa". Diario Oficial de la Federación (in Spanish). Retrieved 20 November 2018.
- "Serbian and Portuguese presidents exchange decorations - English - on B92.net". B92.net. Retrieved 25 December 2018.
- "Boletín Oficial del Estado" (PDF). Retrieved 18 April 2019.
- "Real Decreto 223/2018, de 13 de abril, por el que se concede el Collar de la Real y Distinguida Orden Española de Carlos III al Excelentísimo señor Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, Presidente de la República Portuguesa". Boletín Oficial del Estado (in Spanish) (91): 38968. 14 April 2018. ISSN 0212-033X. Retrieved 16 April 2018.
- Costados Alentejanos, II, António Luís de Torres Cordovil Pestana de Vasconcelos, Edição do Author, Évora 2006, N.º 41