Portugal – Government And Administration

PORTUGAL is an hereditary and constitutional monarchy. In accordance with the Carta de Ley of 1826, as revised in 1852, the King is charged with the executive, and shares the power of making laws with two chambers. He receives a civil list of 41,000, enjoys the income from certain Crown lands, and possesses magnificent Crow n jewels, amongst which the ” diamond of Braganca ” is the most famous. In default. of male heirs the crown descends in the female line. ” His most faithful Majesty ” still claims to be ” King of the two Algarves, Lord of Guinea and of the Conquests.” The seven ministers of the Crown are responsible for the King’s actions; they may be impeached by the Chamber of Deputies, and are judged by the Chamber of Peers. A Privy Council of an indefinite number of members, appointed for life, advises the King in all questions of administration. The heir presumptive takes part in its deliberations on attaining his eighteenth year.

The Chamber of Peers consists of about a hundred members, some of them hereditary and others appointed by the King. Its meetings are presided over by the Patriarch of Lisbon. The Chamber of Deputies is elective, and the discussion of the budget and granting of supplies are specially reserved to it. All males more than twenty-five years of age are entitled to the franchise if they pay 4s. 6s. in direct taxes, or ’22s. from real estate. Graduates of universities, certified teachers, officers, and priests are not required to possess any property qualification, and they, as well as all married men, become enfranchised on completing their twenty-first year. All electors are eligible as deputies if the) pay 18s. in direct taxes, or 90s. from real estate. Every 25,000 inhabitants are represented by a deputy. The President of the Chamber is selected by the King from five candidates presented by the deputies. The latter are entitled to remuneration.

For judicial purposes the country is divided into twenty-six districts, or comareas, with eighty-five courts. There are courts of appeal at Lisbon and Oporto, and a supreme court at Lisbon. Parish judges (juiz eleito), elected by the people, exercise the inferior jurisdiction. Juries give their verdict on questions of fact in civil as well as in criminal cases. The principal codes still in three are the Codigo Alfonsino” of the fifteenth century, the ” Codigo Manoelino” (1513), and the “Codigo Filippino,” introduced by Philip IV. of Sp tin. A Commercial Code was published in 1833.

The Roman Catholic religion is that of the State, but Protestant places of worship are suffered to exist in the seaports. The hierarchy includes a patriarch residing at Lisbon, two archbishops at Braga and Evora, and fourteen bishops. The Inquisition was abolished in 1821, and the monasteries, 750 in number, as well as most of the convents, were suppressed in 18:34, and their revenues confiscated for the benefit of the State.

The army numbers 1,650 officers and 38,000 men, of whom about two-thirds are under colours during peace. On a war footing it is to be raised to 2,418 officers and 70,687 men. All men are obliged to serve either in the army or in the reserve, and exemption can no longer be purchased. The fortresses are numerous, but only a few of them are capable of being defended against modern artillery. The most important are Elvas, Abrantes, and Valenca, near the Spanish frontier, the fort of Sao Julio and the citadel of Peniche on the coast. The navy no longer numbers a thousand vessels, as it did when King Sebastian started for the invasion of Morocco. It consists now of twenty-seven steamers, including an ironclad corvette, and eleven sailing vessels, manned by 3,000 men and armed with 171 guns.

The public revenue approaches £6,000,000 sterling, and ever since 1834 there has been annually a deficit, which has resulted in a national debt of more than £60,000,000, a burden almost too heavy for a small country like Portugal. The revenue is, however, increasing, a balance between income and expenditure has been established within the last year or two, and the wretched expedient of deducting from 5 to 30 per cent. of the salaries of Government officials could be dispensed with for the first time in 1875.