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
EPP Summit, 22 March 2018 (27083908678) (cropped, Rui Rio).jpg
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)Edit

List of Leaders of the OppositionEdit

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 officeEdit

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
Leader Length by
time served
Number of
1 Mário Soares 4 years, 291 days 2 Socialist
2 Jorge Sampaio 3 years, 257 days 1 Socialist
3 António Guterres 3 years, 247 days 1 Socialist
4 Pedro Passos Coelho 3 years, 171 days 2 Social Democratic
5 António José Seguro 3 years, 122 days 1 Socialist
6 Rui Rio 3 years, 82 days (Incumbent) 1 Social Democratic
7 Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa 3 years, 33 days 1 Social Democratic
8 José Manuel Durão Barroso 2 years, 340 days 1 Social Democratic
9 Eduardo Ferro Rodrigues 2 years, 171 days 1 Socialist
Luís Marques Mendes 2 years, 171 days 1 Social Democratic
10 Álvaro Cunhal 2 years, 150 days 1 Communist
11 Vítor Constâncio 2 years, 130 days 1 Socialist
12 Francisco Sá Carneiro 2 years, 87 days 2 Social Democratic
13 Manuela Ferreira Leite 1 year, 299 days 1 Social Democratic
14 António Costa 1 year, 4 days 1 Socialist
15 António de Sousa Franco 364 days 1 Social Democratic
16 Luís Filipe Menezes 246 days 1 Social Democratic
17 António Macedo 228 days 1 Socialist
18 José Sócrates 201 days 2 Socialist
19 Fernando Nogueira 153 days 1 Social Democratic
20 José Menéres Pimentel 78 days 1 Social Democratic
21 Pedro Santana Lopes 29 days 1 Social 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. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  2. ^ Paula Sá. "Os outros desafios de Rui Rio". Diário de Notícias (in Portuguese). Retrieved 19 February 2018.

See alsoEdit