Jorge Sampaio

Last updated

Karin Schmidt Dias
(m. 1967;div. 1971)

Maria José Rodrigues Ritta
(m. 1974)
Jorge Sampaio
Jorge Sampaio 3.jpg
Sampaio in 2003
President of Portugal
ChildrenVera Ritta de Sampaio
André Ritta de Sampaio
Alma mater University of Lisbon
Signature Signature of Jorge Sampaio.png

Jorge Fernando Branco de Sampaio GColTE GColIH GColL (Portuguese pronunciation: [ˈʒɔɾʒɨsɐ̃ˈpaju] ; 18 September 1939 – 10 September 2021) was a Portuguese lawyer and politician who was the 18th President of Portugal from 1996 to 2006. Sampaio was a member of the Socialist Party, a party which he led between 1989 and 1992. He served as the Mayor of Lisbon from 1990 to 1995 and High-Representative for the United Nations' Alliance of Civilizations between 2007 and 2013.


Sampaio was an opponent to the dictatorship of Estado Novo. He participated in the student crisis in the 1960s and worked as a lawyer for political prisoners. During his presidency, Portugal relinquished its last colony, Macau, to China. Sampaio also played an important role in the 1999 East Timorese crisis.

Early life

Sampaio was born in Lisbon on 18 September 1939 into a middle-class family. [3] [4] The Sampaio family lived in the United States and the United Kingdom for some years due to the professional activity of his father Arnaldo Sampaio (1908–1984), a physician who was recognized for promoting the National Vaccination Program. [5] [4] [6] Jorge Sampaio's mother was Fernanda Bensaúde Branco (1908–2000), daughter of Sara Bensliman Bensaúde, who was a Sephardi Jew from Morocco and died in 1976. Sampaio's maternal grandfather Fernando Augusto Branco  [ pt ] (1880–1940) was an officer of the Portuguese Navy and later served as Foreign Minister of Portugal, and his maternal great-granduncle was the businessman José Bensaúde  [ pt ] (1835–1922). [5] [6] Sampaio did not consider himself a Jew and was agnostic. [lower-alpha 1]

In an interview for the daily newspaper Público, Sampaio said he recalled his parents "putting tapes on the windows, because it was feared that Hitler would come down that way [to Portugal]". [3] His brother is psychiatrist and academic Daniel Sampaio  [ pt ] (born 1946). [5] [3]

Sampaio grew up in a manor house in Sintra. [3] He attended Queen Elizabeth's School in São Bento, Lisbon. [8] In the 1947–1948 school year, the Sampaio family—except Daniel—moved to the United States and settled in Baltimore, where his father taught at Johns Hopkins University. Sampaio enrolled at the YMCA, where he practiced boxing and swimming; he also attended piano lessons at the Peabody Institute and participated in its orchestra. At the end of the school year, Sampaio returned to his aunt's and uncle's house in Lisbon, and soon after to Sintra when his parents returned from the US. In 1949, Jorge Sampaio attempted to enroll at Colégio Militar, but failed, so he enrolled at Liceu Pedro Nunes. After finishing the fifth grade, Sampaio chose a set of subjects that gave him access to the law course at Liceu Passos Manuel. [4] [9]

Political career

Jorge Sampaio started his political career as a student of the Faculty of Law of the University of Lisbon. [4] Sampaio had a key role in student resistance and the 1960s academic crisis protesting against the fascist Estado Novo regime, and led the Lisbon students union between 1960 and 1961. [10] Following his graduation in 1961, Sampaio started a career as a lawyer before entering politics following his father's advice, and often defended political prisoners. [4] He was in charge of the defense of the accused in famous cases such as the assault on Beja Barracks and those arrested during the Vigília da Capela do Rato  [ pt ] protest. The documents that opposed the exile of Mário Soares, who Sampaio would later succeed in the presidency of the Republic, were in his office. [10] He also worked as a director for the Portuguese Bar Association. [10] In the 1970s, he was a co-founder of Movimento de Esquerda Socialista (MES). [11]

Carnation Revolution and political beginnings

On 25 April 1974, during the Carnation Revolution, Sampaio was awakened by a friend's telephone call; he went to his office to gather information but returned home when the Armed Forces Movement ordered via radio no-one should leave their homes. Sampaio originated the slogan "25 de Abril, sempre!" ("Always the 25 of April!"). [10] [12]

In May 1974, Sampaio co-founded the Movement of Socialist Left ("Movimento de Esquerda Socialista (MES)") but soon after abandoned the political project when, in the first MES congress in December, he strongly opposed its Marxist-Leninist ideology. [10] [12] On 28 September 1974, Sampaio participated in the barricades to prevent the arrival of citizens at a demonstration in support of General António de Spínola, then-president of the Republic, in an act known as the "demonstration of the silent majority". [12]

After the failed communist coup of 25 November 1975, Sampaio founded Intervenção Socialista (IS) (Socialist Intervention) in an attempt to unify the left but with little success. [12] In 1978, IS was absorbed by the Partido Socialista (PS) ("Socialist Party") and Sampaio joined that party, where he was associated with its left-most wing. [12] [13]

Sampaio was first elected to the Assembly of the Republic in the 1979 legislative election as a deputy for Lisbon, an office he successively held until 1991. [10] Between 1979 and 1984, Sampaio was the first Portuguese member of the European Commission for Human Rights of the Council of Europe. [14] Between 1987 and 1988, [15] he was president of the parliamentary bench of the PS. [10] On 18 November 1988, Jorge Sampaio became a candidate for Secretary-General of the PS, and on 16 January 1989, after defeating Jaime Gama, he succeeded Vítor Constâncio, who resigned. Sampaio led the PS until 1992, when António Guterres defeated him by winning the primaries, after being presented as an alternative following the party's poor results in the 1991 legislative election. [4] [10] [12]

Mayor of Lisbon

Also in 1989, Sampaio was elected the 62nd Mayor of Lisbon with a left-wing coalition the PS led after winning 49.1% of the vote against PSD candidate Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa. [16] [17] This alliance was the first between the PS and the Portuguese Communist Party (PCP) after the Carnation Revolution, and was joined by the PEV, the UDP, the MDP/CDE and the PSR, and inaugurated a policy of municipal alliances with the PCP at Sampaio's initiative, which the PS did not support. [16] [17]

Sampaio's mandate as mayor of Lisbon saw the conclusion of the Plano Estratégico e do Plano Diretor Municipal (PDM) and of the Plano Especial de Realojamento (PER), the consolidation and inauguration of Lisbon as European Capital of Culture in 1994, the reconstruction of Chiado district that burned down in 1988, and the opening of the Chiado and Music museums. [16] [17]

Sampaio was re-elected for a second term as mayor in 1993. [12] In February 1995, he announced his intention to run for the following year's presidential election, which he confirmed in July. Due to his candidacy, Sampaio resigned from his mayoral post and was succeeded by João Soares on 15 November, the day he presented his candidacy before the Constitutional Court. [6] [12] [18]

Presidency (2006–2016)

First term: 1996–2001

The electoral campaign began on 31 December 1995; throughout the campaign, polls favored Sampaio over the other candidate, former Prime Minister Aníbal Cavaco Silva. [19] [20] Sampaio won the election with 3,035,056 votes (52.66%) [21] [22] and was sworn in on 9 March 1996 in a ceremony at the Assembly of the Republic, succeeding Mário Soares. [23] There was also a historic coincidence: it was the first time the sitting president and prime minister were members of the same political party. [17]

On 13 April, Sampaio was admitted to Lisboan Santa Cruz hospital to undergo heart surgery and was discharged 12 days later. On 27 July, he was again admitted to the hospital for open heart surgery. [12] Due to this, Sampaio requested leave for a temporary impediment at the Constitutional Court; it was the first-such incident. Sampaio was replaced by the President of the Assembly Almeida Santos. [10] [12]

On 19 May 1996, during the 1996 Taça de Portugal Final at Estádio Nacional, a S. L. Benfica cheerleader laucnhed a rocket that killed a Sporting CP fan. Sampaio called for an emergency meeting at halftime in which he tried to cancel the second half of the match. [3] [24] In May 1998, Sampaio inaugurated Expo '98 in Lisbon. [25]

In 1998, Sampaio became the first president to call referenda: the first was held on 28 June about abortion and the second was held on 8 November about regionalization. [12]

East Timorese struggle

Upon becoming president in 1996, Sampaio and the government of António Guterres began to work on the independence of East Timor, which was then a province of Indonesia. In Oslo in 1999, in a CNN debate on the situation in Timor with Nobel Peace Prize winners José Ramos-Horta and bishop Carlos Ximenes Belo, Sampaio's intervention had international repercussions due to his confrontation with the Indonesian ambassador to the United Nations (UN) Nugroho Wisnumurtio. [26] [27] Sampaio supported the independence of East Timor. [4]

After the resignation of Indonesia's President Suharto in 1998 and the succession of B. J. Habibie, Portuguese and international diplomacy led to the holding in East Timor of an independence referendum for the province. [28] The plebescite was held on 30 August 1999 [29] and was followed by a campaign of extreme violence and terror by pro-Indonesian militias, and Portugal put pressure on the international community, especially the administration of U.S. President Bill Clinton, to take a position. [29] [26] A crisis cabinet was convened at Belém Palace. [28] Sampaio and the Portuguese government made contacts for an international peacekeeping force to enter the territory. [12] On 15 September 1999, the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1264 was adopted and the International Force East Timor was established. [30]

Former President of East Timor José Ramos-Horta said Sampaio "was a great defender of the East Timorese cause and played a crucial role in the political and diplomatic solution that led to independence". [4] Sampaio visited East Timor for the first time in February 2000; he was the first Portuguese head of state to do so but his visit was shortened when he learned of the death of his mother. [12] [31] Sampaio returned to East Timor in 2002 following the country's Independence with Xanana Gusmão as president. [28] East Timor was also the destination for Sampaio's last official trip in 2006. [28]

End of Portuguese sovereignty over Macau

In 1999, negotiations for the transfer of sovereignty over Macau to China came to an end and on 19 December, the transfer was completed with the Chinese president Jiang Zemin. Shortly before midnight, Sampaio made a farewell speech, ending 442 years of Portuguese colonialism in Macau. [12] [28] [32] Sampaio's participation in the ceremony was doubtful in March of that year because Sampaio refused to take part without the resolution of questions about the territory's future. [33]

Second term: 2001–2006

Sampaio with Russian president Vladimir Putin in October 2001 in Moscow Vladimir Putin 26 October 2001-1.jpg
Sampaio with Russian president Vladimir Putin in October 2001 in Moscow

On 19 October 2000, Sampaio announced his candidacy [12] in the 2001 presidential election. Sampaio won the election, defeating Joaquim Ferreira do Amaral with 2,401,015 votes (55.55%). [21] [34]

In 2001, while the September 11 attacks on the U.S. cities New York and Washington, D.C., were underway, Sampaio was having lunch with a guest at Belém Palace and had to immediately cancel. [26] In early September 2002, discussions about a possible invasion of Iraq began; from that moment, as Sampaio acknowledged in an interview in 2016, he did not agree with Durão Barroso's position Portugal should participate and was strongly opposed to sending troops to Iraq. [35] Sampaio thought the Azores summit would have the objective of avoiding war, according to the prime minister, but as president, Sampaio was not competent to decide on foreign policy. [26] [35]

The defeat of the Socialist Party in the municipal elections of 2001 ended the government of António Guterres, who resigned. Instead of appointing the new leader of the PS Eduardo Ferro Rodrigues as head of government, after a round of consultations with the parliamentary parties, Sampaio dissolved the Assembly and called elections for March 2002. [36] [26] José Manuel Barroso won the legislative election and Sampaio nominated him as the new prime minister. [37]

In February 2002, in an interview for the BBC, Sampaio said Portugal would hold a new referendum to decriminalize abortion. In the same interview, he defended the government's decision to decriminalize the use of certain drugs, a proposal several European leaders criticized. Sampaio also stated Europe should commit itself more energetically to resolve the crisis in the Middle East, and that the Palestinians and Israelis should return to negotiations. [38]

On 4 April 2002, Sampaio said he welcomed the peace accords that ended the Angolan Civil War, saying it "opens the way to reconciliation among Angolans and general elections". [39]

Sampaio with Brazilian president Lula da Silva in a visit to Brazil in 2003 Jorge Sampaio e Lula.jpg
Sampaio with Brazilian president Lula da Silva in a visit to Brazil in 2003

In October 2003, Sampaio invited the presidents of Finland and Germany, and the soon-to-be EU members Hungary, Latvia, and Poland to Arraiolos to discuss the consequences of the 2004 enlargement of the European Union and plans for a Constitution for Europe. [40]

In 2004, Sampaio refused to hold an early election following the resignation of Social Democratic Party Prime Minister Durão Barroso. Sampaio's refusal was met with protests from all left-wing parties and the resignation of socialist leader Ferro Rodrigues. [41] Sampaio appointed Pedro Santana Lopes as Prime Minister on 9 July 2004. [12] On 30 November, Sampaio said the new cabinet was not achieving the desired stability and he dissolved the Parliament and called another election for February 2005. [42] Following the PS's absolute majority in this election, Sampaio appointed José Sócrates Prime Minister. [12]

Sampaio's successor was chosen in the presidential election on 22 January 2006. [43] Aníbal Cavaco Silva, who Sampaio defeated in 1996, succeeded him on 9 March 2006. [44] During his ten years in office, Sampaio convened the Portuguese Council of State 22 times, mainly to manage the Macau issue. As of 2023, it is the highest number of conventions of any Portuguese president. [45]

Post-presidential career

Sampaio at the 2018 Horasis Global Meeting in Cascais Jorge Sampaio, Former President of Portugal, on Mandela's legacy (28239312008) (cropped).jpg
Sampaio at the 2018 Horasis Global Meeting in Cascais

As a former President, Jorge Sampaio became a member of the Portuguese Council of State in 2006. [46] He was also member of the Club de Madrid, an organization of more than 80 former democratic statespersons. [47]

In May 2006, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan appointed Sampaio as his first Special Envoy for the Global Plan to Stop Tuberculosis. [48] On 26 April 2007, new UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon designated Sampaio as High Representative for the Alliance of Civilizations, [49] a position he held until February 2013, when Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser succeeded him. [50]

In 2010, Sampaio participated in the jury for Fondation Chirac's Conflict Prevention Prize. [51] From 2013, he led the Global Platform for Syrian Students to boost the academic training of young people in Syria after the outbreak of the country's civil war and refugee crisis. [52] On 26 August 2021, in an article in the newspaper Público , Sampaio announced the Global Platform for Syrian Students was creating academic training for female Afghan students amid the Taliban's seizure of power in Afghanistan. [17] [53]

Personal life

Jorge Sampaio married twice. In 1967, he married Karin Schmidt Dias, a physician and daughter of anthropologist António Jorge Dias  [ pt ] and German-born pianist Margot Dias  [ pt ] (née Schmidt), with whom he had no children. The couple divorced in 1971. [54] [55]

On 6 April 1974, Sampaio married Maria José Rodrigues Ritta  [ pt ], with whom he had two children: Vera Ritta de Sampaio was born in 1975 [56] and André Ritta de Sampaio was born in 1980. [56] [54] [17] [55]

Sampaio played piano from childhood and was a member of Sporting CP, in which his membership number was 3,109. [3] He supported bullfighting, [57] and collected records and paintings. He was shy, cried easily, was discreet, had a poor temper, and was altruistic. [55] [58] He also had a British accent and red hair he inherited from a paternal great-grandfather. [3]

Death and funeral

Jorge Sampaio lying in state at the National Coach Museum in 2021 Velorio Jorge Sampaio GMNTV 2.png
Jorge Sampaio lying in state at the National Coach Museum in 2021

In August 2021, while on vacation in Algarve, Sampaio began to feel unwell and was transferred by helicopter to Lisbon. On 27 August, he was admitted to Santa Cruz hospital, [59] where he died of respiratory failure on 10 September 2021, eight days before his 82nd birthday. [60] [61] On that day, the Council of Ministers decreed three days of national mourning would begin on 11 September. [62] The next day, the funeral procession transited Lisbon City Hall, where the mayor Fernando Medina received him. The final destination was the Royal Riding Arena of the National Coach Museum, where the mortuary chapel was installed and his coffin was flanked with wreaths of red carnations. [63]

On Sunday 12, September, Sampaio's state funeral was held at Jerónimos Monastery and was attended by the highest national institutions, including UN Secretary-General and former Prime Minister António Guterres. Also present were foreign leaders such as the King of Spain Felipe VI, the Prime Minister of Cape Verde Ulisses Correia e Silva, the President of the Parliament of East Timor Aniceto Guterres Lopes, and delegates of the Community of Portuguese Language Countries. [64] Later, in a private ceremony, Sampaio was buried at Alto de São João Cemetery, Lisbon. [65]

Honours and awards

Coat of arms of Jorge Sampaio as knight of the Order of Charles III Coat of Arms of Jorge Sampaio (Order of Charles III).svg
Coat of arms of Jorge Sampaio as knight of the Order of Charles III

In 2004, Sampaio received the Charles V European Award. [12] In 2009, Sampaio was awarded the North–South Prize of the Council of Europe. [66] In 2015, he, along with Dr. Helena Ndume, was a recipient of the Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela Prize in recognition of his role in the campaign for the restoration of democracy in Portugal, the pro bono defense of political prisoners, and for raising awareness of tuberculosis as the UN Secretary-General's first Special Envoy to Stop Tuberculosis. [67] [68]

National honours

Foreign honours

Source: [71]

Honoris causa

See also


    • Jerusalem Post: I understand that you have Jewish ancestry in your family. What is your personal connection to the Jewish people? Do you consider yourself to be a Jew?.
    • Jorge Sampaio: My grandmother belonged to a Jewish family that came from Morocco in the beginning of the 19th century. She married a non-Jewish naval officer who later was Foreign Affairs minister. I am naturally very proud of this ancestry and of all those that I call my "favorite Jewish cousins", one of whom is the president of the Lisbon Jewish Community, as I am proud of the ancestry on my non-Jewish father's side. Personally, I am agnostic, and I do not consider myself a Jew; but I am proud, as I said, of my ancestors. [7]

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Assembly seats
Title jointly held Member of the Assembly of the Republic
from Lisbon

1976–1983; 1985–1987; 1991–1995
Title jointly held
Member of the Assembly of the Republic
from Santarém

Party political offices
Preceded by Secretary-General of the Socialist Party
Succeeded by
Political offices
Preceded by Leader of the Opposition
Succeeded by
Preceded by Mayor of Lisbon
Succeeded by
Preceded by President of Portugal
Succeeded by
Diplomatic posts
New title High-Representative for the Alliance of Civilizations
Succeeded by