After the 1978 restoration of the constitutional system in Portugal, Cavaco Silva entered politics as a Social Democrat (PSD). He was appointed minister of finance in 1980 and, seeking to deregulate business, soon gained a reputation as an economic liberal. When the PSD joined with the socialists to form the Center Bloc coalition, Cavaco Silva resigned from the government in 1983. He was elected head of the PSD in 1985, ending the coalition.
On 6 November 1985 the PSD won a sufficient number of seats in parliament to form a government with Cavaco Silva as prime minister. In the 1987 and 1991 elections, he and the PSD won clear majorities. He pushed through tax reform and more business liberalization measures that contributed to rapid economic growth. He also oversaw Portugal's entrance into the European Community in January 1986. He did not seek reelection in 1995, and the PSD lost its majority in parliament. He left office in October 1995 and ran unsuccessfully for the presidency in 1996. Cavaco Silva ran again for the presidency in January 2006. He was sworn in as president of Portugal in March 2006.
David H. Richards
Costa Figueira, João. Cavaco Silva: homem de estado [Cavaco Silva: Statesman]. Lisbon: Livraria Popular Francisco Franc, 1987.