Portugal remains at rank 20 in status performance.
Traditions of democracy are well established, but political actors need to take seriously the erosion of trust in the political system. As was the case in many other OECD countries, the crisis had a severe impact on economic performance.
Socioeconomic inequality remains one of the most pressing problems. Health care and integration policy stand out as successful items in Social Affairs.
External and internal security threats are comparatively inconsequential.
Resources are not always managed with sustainability in mind. While environmental policies have improved, structural deficiencies hinder further developments in R&D and the education system.
Portugal, a fully consolidated democracy since the mid-1980s, ranks 17th in the quality of democracy.
Portugal’s democratic institutions are generally well-developed, but lack public trust in some areas.
Elections are free and fair, and political rights are protected both on paper and in practice. There is media pluralism and freedom, and the judicial system is independent.
The judiciary is independent but lacks public trust. This is attributed to the corrosive effect of a sluggish system in which decisions can take years to reach.
With a slight drop to rank 25, Portugal’s rating on economic policy reflects substantial structural weaknesses.
After a period of strength from 1985 to the late 1990s, Portugal’s sluggish economy slipped into a “lost decade” of slow growth. The country is ranked by foreign investors as one of the least competitive countries in Europe. Policy-makers have found it difficult to meet euro zone budgetary consolidation obligations.
The government has attempted to stimulate employment by reducing or eliminating employers’ Social Security contributions. However, policies lag well behind labor market needs, and have had little impact in slowing down a galloping unemployment trend.
With a ranking of 24 on issues of social policy, Portugal faces serious societal challenges.
Portugal is the EU’s most unequal society, while within the OECD, only Turkey, Mexico and Chile present a higher Gini coefficient. Levels of poverty are very high and likely to worsen as long as unemployment rates continue to grow.
The population displays comparatively good levels of overall health. Although the national health care system faces challenges similar to those elsewhere in Europe, it is a relative success story. Migrants have access to health care regardless of their legal status.
Economic barriers and labor-market realities prevent many women from combining parenting successfully with employment. The country’s pension policy does not prevent poverty, and is not sustainable in its current form.
Defense policy, in particualr anti-terrorism strategies and those targeting organized crime, are embedded in wider EU goals and Portugal’s active NATO involvement. At the same time, the country cultivates close bilateral relations with the USA.
Crime rates have escalated in accord with growing drug use and unemployment. Attempts to target the growing number of members of international groups involved in illegal immigration, human trafficking and robbery have landed many individuals in prison. Although ETA does not carry out attacks in Portugal, it does have a presence there.
At rank 23, Portugal’s rating on the issue of sustainable resource use has remained stable, despite across-the-board gains in individual indicators relative to the SGI 2009.
Considerable improvements were made in environmental policy. The drop in CO2 emissions is in part a reflection of the economic crisis, but also mirrors policy choices such as Prime Minister Sócrates’ decision to make renewable energies a key priority.
Sustained investment in R&D since the 1990s has consistently improved the country’s position in Europe. However, structural deficiencies remain, notably associated with a relatively weak level of private R&D expenditure and low levels of educational attainment.
Access to educational resources remains low and unequal. The government has sought since 2005 to combat this by increasing support for lifelong learning, vocational training and other adult education opportunities.