Portugal emerged as a country in 1143, after a 15 year rebellion by Dom Afonso Henriques (Afonso I). Afonso Henriques defeated his mother Countess Teresa of Portugal, regent of the County (Condado) of Portugal and loyal to the Kingdom of Leon, at the battle of Sao Mamede (Batalha de Sao Mamede) near the town of Guimaraes, in June of 1128. Countess Teresa was imprisoned and exiled by her son, and died in 1130. Guimaraes is therefore known as the birthplace city of Portugal.
However the true test of an independent nation did not happened until 1385 when Joao Mestre de Avis (John of Avis) with the help of legendary supreme constable Nuno Alvares Pereira defeated the Castilians at the epic Aljubarrota battle where the Castilians outnumbered the Portuguese 6:1. John I (Dom Joao I) was crowned King of Portugal. John I along with his sons, Duarte (to became the King in succession), Henry The Navigator, and Afonso started the "Golden Decades" of worldwide discoveries (15th and 16th centuries). Following its heyday as a world power during the 15th and 16th centuries, Portugal lost much of its wealth and status with the destruction of Lisbon in a 1755 earthquake, occupation during the Wars, and the independence in 1822 of Brazil as a colony.
In 1974, a left-wing military coup installed broad democratic reforms, which had the opposite effect. Too much freedom too quickly placed the country in total "democratic chaos" with union bosses, corrupt politicians, and left-wing and right-wing extremists taking turns plundering the country, and lead to the implementation of disastrous economic and labor plans.
With the advent of the second decade of the 21st century Portugal is in its worse financial condition ever after decades of miss-management that begun with then Prime Minister and now President Anibal Cavaco Silva and ended with a horrifically corrupt Socialist government led by Prime Minister Jose Socrates. Socrates led a government that broke records in government spending, over-budgeted useless public work projects, while conducting promiscuously incestuous and corrupted relations between the government and the so called public-private companies. The banking industry, the most powerful lobby group in the country, along with a conflict of interests riddled politicians had direct influence in writing legislation and implement actions that sank the economy. The Socrates government left the country in shambles and, true to the Justice Department‚Äôs putrid state of affairs, immune of responsibilities. Unlike Iceland, no one is in jail.
The Social Democrat Party under the leadership of current Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho inherited a country with a deficit of nearly 15 billion Euros (10 million people) and had no choice but to play into the hands of the International monetary fund and the European Central Bank‚Äôs requirements of severe austerity and financial cut backs. However mainly due to the usual government incompetence, led by a Parliament that, true to historical form does absolutely nothing, serving only as a huge money siphon of public funds (Assembly persons get a full pension of over 5.000 Euros per month after 4 years in Parliament), the country is unable to cut back on expenses and has yet to meet a single imposed deficit target.
The Portuguese Parliament (known by the Portuguese people as a ‚ÄúCampo de Ferias‚ÄĚ or vacation camp), a cesspool of corruption and self-interest has no role or visible duty in governing since its inception. Assembly men and women are in its majority riddled by conflicts of interest. Many are lawyers who in the morning work for their law firms representing public-private firms in charge of government projects, and in the afternoon sit in the Assembly to vote on issues related to the same issues and bills their firms are representing. Every Assembly person has a laptop to conduct business while on the taxpayers payroll. With 230 assembly members for a country of 10 million people, Portugal's Parliament has the highest ratio of Assembly persons to the number of citizens. The United States, for example, has 435 members in the House of Representatives for 350 million citizens. Should the United States use the same ratio as Portugal it would need nearly 8,000 members!
Portugal is a country in trouble. Unless Justice and Legislation are reformed, those who placed the country in the current situation and continue to govern under the flag of corruption are called to face their consequences, and measures are taken to weed out corruption, excesses, and conflicts of interest, there is no end in sight for its situation. Pedro Passos Coelho solution, in a national speech to the country, suggested Portuguese citizens begin looking for jobs in other countries.