Social Pacts: The case of Portugal
Sociology ISCTE - Lisbon University Institute Lisbon, Portugal
During the last century, Portugal lived 48 years under a dictatorship, reached democracy in 1974, became member of EEC in 1986 and has institutionalized its industrial relations system between these two dates and set up social concertation since then.
The paper is based on a hypothesis that establishes a correspondence between the main characteristics of the actual industrial relations system and the main transformation episodes of this system in the last quarter of century.
According to that hypothesis, the system of interests´representation would mirror the conflicts and results of the institutionalisation of democracy and the attempt to create a social and economical counterpart for public powers; the structure and content of collective bargaining would reflect the economical transitions crises around the 70´s and 80´s and the consequences of the policies used to control and reduce the public debt; the model of social concertation in use would reflect the conflicts and commitments related with the preparation for Portugal´s accession to the European Communities and the subsequent challenges raised by EU´s membership, namely the need to meet the Maastricht criteria and the recent budgetary and debt crisis in a context of economic downturn and growing unemployment.
A hypothesis to the explanation of the unevenness of social pacts in Portugal is submitted to debate. According to that hypothesis, governments are the key neocorporatist player but social partners play a relevant role on agenda setting and on public policy design, but not on its implementation.