From legislation to legitimation : the role of the Portuguese parliament, 1983 to 1995
The main aim of this thesis is to contribute to knowledge about the Portuguese parliament, the Assembleia da Republica. Although already over twenty years old, this is still in many ways an unknown institution. There is very little literature and much of what exists is dated. This dissertation seeks to fill a notable gap. Given the lack of previous studies, many objects could have been chosen for this thesis. However, considering the non-existence of basic information (for example, on the ruling framework and on scrutiny devices), this thesis has necessarily to adopt a broad perspective. It is concerned with the overall development of the Assembleia da Republica as a newly democratic institution. For this, a period of twelve years has been chosen: 1983 to 1995, which includes three different political situations, a coalition, a minority and an absolute majority government. The main reason for the choice of this period is again linked with the absence of studies on parliament: only a very small part of existing literature has been dedicated to the period subsequent to 1985; most of the studies have focused on the first decade of Portuguese democracy (after 1974). Besides this, other reasons justify the choice of those twelve years in particular. 1987 was the first time that an absolute majority held by one party was elected to parliament; for the first time in Portuguese democracy, there was political stability and a full legislature period (four years) was completed. Thus, it is normal to expect considerable changes in the Assembleia after 1987, that is in the V legislature. In 1991, the same absolute majority was elected to parliament for a further four years (VI legislature - 1991195). The repetition of two completed parliaments allows us to adequately understand the extent of the consequences of political stability for the development of a new institution. In order to fully assess the changes brought in by the absolute majorities, two previous legislatures were also included in the period studied here: the III (1983/85) and the IV (1985/87). This allows us to include in the analysis two different political situations: a coalition government (III) and a minority one (IV). Hence, the study of the Assembleia over this period of twelve years will provide a thorough understanding of the variables and processes involved in the development of a new democratic institution, once the troubled years of transition to democracy had been overcome. The analysis will be carried out basically through two dimensions: policy-making and legitimation. Finally, it should be noted that some of the material included in the dissertation is already in print, in publications that were published as the research developed.