(b. Poço Boliqueime, 15 July 1939)
Portuguese; Finance Minister 1979–80, Prime Minister 1985–95, President 2006– Before he entered politics in the 1980s Cavaco was a successful academic. He graduated in Finance at the Technical University of Lisbon in 1964 and received a Ph.D. at the University of York in England in December 1973. Between 1974 and 1979 he occupied several professorships in Portuguese universities, and was a full professor at the New University of Lisbon.
A member of the Social Democratic Party (Partido Social-Democrata—PSD) since its foundation in May 1974, he was a consultant on economic policy in the party's research institute. In January 1980 he became Minister of Finance and Planning in the sixth constitutional government, under the leadership of Francisco Sá Carneiro, but left the post soon after the tragic death of Prime Minister Sá Carneiro in an aviation accident. As Finance Minister, he gave priority to reducing the budget deficit. In October 1980 he was elected member of parliament, and on the death of the party's deputy Prime Minister Mota Pinto was elected party president in 1985. He led the party in the 1985 elections to victory and became Prime Minister of a PSD minority government one month later. He refused to sign any pact with the other parties in the Assembly of the Republic and in 1987 his government was brought down by a motion of censure. In the postponed election of 19 July 1987, Cavaco Silva won an absolute majority, which he repeated in October 1991. In February 1995, he stepped down after serving ten years as Prime Minister; he had played a significant role in Portugal's transition to a stable democracy. He stood as a candidate for the primarily ceremonial presidency in 1996, but lost to Jorge Branco de Sampaio, the Socialist Governor of Lisbon, and returned to academic life. However, he successfully stood in the 2006 presidential elections, gaining just over 50 per cent of the vote in the first round, and becoming the first centre-right President since 1974.
Subjects: Politics — Contemporary History (Post 1945).