Portugal - Glossary Index
Sources: The Library of Congress Country Studies; CIA World Factbook
Glossary -- Portugal
- See escudo.
- Council of Europe
- Founded in 1949 to foster parliamentary democracy, social and economic progress, and unity among its member states. Membership is limited to those European countries that respect the rule of law and the fundamental human rights and freedoms of all those living within their boundaries. As of 1988, its membership consisted of twenty-one West European countries.
- d'Hondt method
- also known as the highest-average method of determining the allocation of seats to political parties after an election. It was devised by the Belgian Victor d'Hondt to be used in electoral systems based on proportional representation. In addition to Portugal, the method has been adopted by Austria, Belgium, Finland, and Switzerland. Under this method, voters do not choose a candidate but vote for a party, each of which has published a list of candidates. The party winning the most votes in a constituency is awarded the area's first seat, which goes to the candidate at the top of the winning party's list. The total vote of this party is then divided by two, and this amount is compared with the totals of other parties. The party with the greatest number of votes at this point receives the next seat to be awarded. Each time a party wins a seat, its total is divided by the number of seats it has won plus one. This process continued until all the seats in a constituency are awarded. The d'Hondt method slightly favors large parties. Because there is no minimum threshold for winning a seat, however, small parties can also elect representatives.
- Basic Portuguese currency unit, consists of 100 centavos. 1,000 escudos are a conto. The exchange rate averaged 27.5 escudos = US$1 in 1975; 53.0 escudos = US$1 in 1980; 170.4 escudos = US$1 in 1985; 144.0 escudos = US$1 in 1988; 157.5 escudos = US$1 in 1989; 142.5 escudos = US$1 in 1990; 144.5 escudos = US$1 in 1991; and 135.0 escudos = US$1 in 1992.
- European Community (EC--also commonly called the Community)
- The EC comprises three communities: the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), the European Economic Community (EEC), and the European Atomic Energy Community (EURATOM). Each community is a legally distinct body, but since 1967 they have shared common governing institutions. The EC forms more than a framework for free trade and economic cooperation: the signatories to the treaties governing the communities have agreed in principle to integrate their economies and ultimately to form a political union. Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) are charter members of the EC. Britain, Denmark, and Ireland joined on January 1, 1973; Greece became a member on January 1, 1981; and Portugal and Spain entered on January 1, 1986.
- European Currency Unit (ECU)
- Instituted in 1979, the ECU is the unit of account of the EC (q.v.). The value of the ECU is determined by the value of a basket that includes the currencies of all EC member states. In establishing the value of the basket, each member's currency receives a share that reflects the relative strength and importance of the member's economy. On September 30, 1992, one ECU was equivalent to US$1.40.
- European Economic Community (EEC)
- See EC.
- European Free Trade Association (EFTA)
- Founded in 1961, EFTA aims at supporting free trade among its members and increasing the liberalization of trade on a global basis, but particularly within Western Europe. In 1988 the organization's member states were Austria, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, and Switzerland.
- Gross domestic product (GDP)
- The total value of goods and services produced by the domestic economy during a given period, usually one year. Obtained by adding the value contributed by each sector of the economy in the form of profits, compensation to employees, and depreciation (consumption of capital). Most GDP usage in this book was based on GDP at factor cost. Real GDP is the value of GDP when inflation has been taken into account.
- Gross national product (GNP)
- Obtained by adding GDP (q.v.) and the income received from abroad by residents less payments remitted abroad to nonresidents. GNP valued at market prices was used in this book. Real GNP is the value of GNP when inflation has been taken into account.
- International Monetary Fund (IMF)
- Established along with the World Bank (q.v.) in 1945, the IMF is a specialized agency affiliated with the United Nations (UN) that takes responsibility for stabilizing international exchange rates and payments. The main business of the IMF is the provision of loans to its members when they experience balance-of- payment difficulties. These loans often carry conditions that require substantial internal economic adjustments by the recipients.
- liberation theology
- An activist movement led by Roman Catholic clergy who trace their inspiration to Vatican Council II (1965), where some church procedures were liberalized, and the Second Latin American Bishops' Conference in Medellín (1968), which endorsed greater direct efforts to improve the lot of the poor. Advocates of liberation theology--sometimes referred to as "liberationists"--work mainly through Christian Base Communities (Comunidades Eclesiásticas de Base--CEBs). Members of CEBS meet in small groups to reflect on scripture and discuss its meaning in their lives. They are introduced to a radical interpretation of the Bible, one that employs Marxist terminology to analyze and condemn the wide disparities between the wealthy elite and the impoverished masses in most underdeveloped countries. This reflection often leads members to organize to improve their living standards through cooperatives and civic improvement projects.
- Organisation for Economic Co- operation and Development (OECD)
- Established in 1961 to replace the Organisation for European Economic Co-operation, the OECD is an international organization composed of the industrialized market economy countries (twenty- four full members as of 1988). It seeks to promote economic and social welfare in member countries, as well as in developing countries, by providing a forum in which to formulate and to coordinate policies.
- The alternation of political factions at regular intervals with little or no change to the political system as a whole.
- single market
- The Single European Act of 1987 committed the European Community (EC) to gradually reduce restrictions so that by the end of 1992 the EC constituted a single market in which the free movement of goods, persons, and capital was guaranteed.
- Value-added tax. A tax applied to the additional value created at a given stage of production and calculated as a percentage of the difference between the product value at that stage and the cost of all materials and services purchased as inputs. The VAT is the primary form of indirect taxation applied in the EEC (q.v.), and it is the basis of each country's contribution to the community budget.
- Western European Union (WEU)
- Founded in 1948 to facilitate West European cooperation in economic, social, cultural, and defense matters. Reactivated in 1984 to concentrate on the defense and disarmament concerns of its nine members (Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, and Britain), the WEU is headed by a council consisting of its members' ministers of foreign affairs and defense. The council meets twice a year; lower-level WEU entities meet with greater frequency.
- World Bank
- Informal name used to designate a group of four affiliated international institutions: the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), the International Development Association (IDA), the International Finance Corporation (IFC), and the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA). The IBRD, established in 1945, has the primary purpose of providing loans to developing countries for productive projects. The IDA, a legally separate loan fund administered by the staff of the IBRD, was set up in 1960 to furnish credits to the poorest developing countries on much easier terms than those of conventional IBRD loans. The IFC, founded in 1956, supplements the activities of the IBRD through loans and assistance designed specifically to encourage the growth of productive private enterprises in less developed countries. The president and certain senior officers of the IBRD hold the same positions in the IFC. The four institutions are owned by the governments of the countries that subscribe their capital. To participate in the World Bank group, member states must first belong to the IMF (q.v.).
NOTE: The information regarding Portugal on this page is re-published from The Library of Congress Country Studies and the CIA World Factbook. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of Portugal Glossary information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Portugal Glossary should be addressed to the Library of Congress and the CIA.