ISCTE The incubator of ministers and secretaries of state – Observer

ISCTE The incubator of ministers and secretaries of state – Observer

You have free access to all the articles of the Observer to be our subscriber.

About 20% of current government members have studied or have links with ISCTE. Not having a monopoly on the formation of governing bodies – the Faculties of Law of the University of Lisbon and the University of Coimbra rival each other -, 11 of the 55 governors have somehow attended the establishment founded in 1972 and now led by the former socialist minister Maria de Lurdes Rodrigues.

The connection between the socialist universe and ISCTE became news after João Leão decided to accept the post of vice-rector of that higher education institution where he will manage a project that has a public support of 8 million euros, which motivated the protest of other universities, which suggested the existence of an alleged aiding and abetting of the former finance minister in the state budget, an accusation that Leão has refused and continues to reject.

But that institution’s influence on the PS’s choices for executive positions goes far beyond João Leão. Additionally, there are three ministers who have graduated from that faculty: Mariana Vieira da Silva, Helena Carreiras And Pedro Adão and Silva. The prime minister, minister of the presidency and number two of António Costa, graduated in sociology from ISCTE and is now pursuing a PhD in public policy. Vieira da Silva was part of the organizing team of the Public Policy Forum, at the same institution.

Helena Carreirasthe new defense minister has an equally umbilical bond with her alma materia: graduated in Sociology, he was professor in various capacities, researcher at the CIES – Center for Research and Studies in Sociology and also director of the School of Sociology and Public Policy of ISCTE.


Pedro Adão and Silva, of Culture, has so far been a professor at ISCTE, having coordinated two reports of the IPPS-ISCTE (institute dedicated to the development of public policies). The same institute also celebrated this same fact as soon as the new composition of the Government was known: “ISCTE with three ministers in government”, the higher education institution underlined in a text published on its official website.

The ministers’ bond with ISCTE does not end there. Although he graduated from the Faculty of Law of the University of Lisbon, Ana Catarina Mendesthe new minister of parliamentary affairs and former parliamentary leader, attended the master’s degree in New frontiers of law at ISCTE, as stated in his biographical note.

Duarte Cordeiro has a similar connection with ISCTE. Despite graduating from ISEG – like Pedro Nuno Santos, one of his great allies in the PS, or Jorge Costa and José Gusmão, leader of the Left Bloc, or, of another generation, Mário Centeno – the new Minister of Ambiente holds a master’s degree in business management from ISCTE.

In defense, João Gomes Cravinho He completed his undergraduate and masters degree from the London School of Economics and his PhD from Oxford. But he ended up being Professor of International Relations at the Faculty of Economics of the University of Coimbra, and Visiting Professor at the ISCTE and the Faculty of Law of the Universidade Nova de Lisboa.

In addition to the six ministers with some kind of relationship with ISCTE, there are five State Secretaries who have graduated or completed their training from that higher education institution. Eduardo PinheiroSecretary of State for Mobility, he obtained a post-graduate degree in Management of Public and Municipal Bodies from ISCTE after graduating in Sociology from the Universidade Nova de Lisboa.

João NevesUndersecretary of State and Economics, he graduated from the Instituto Superior de Economia in 1980 and obtained a master’s degree in Administration and Public Policy from the Instituto Superior de Ciências do Trabalho e Empresa (ISCTE) in 2003. At Work, the secretary of state Miguel Fontes he graduated in Sociology (1994) and received a postgraduate degree in Business Management from the same institute (2003).

Maria of Fatima FonsecaSecretary of State for Health, he graduated in law from the University of Lisbon but received a master’s degree in administration and public policy from ISCTE in 2002.

In the end, Hugo Mendes, Undersecretary of State and Communications at the Ministry of Pedro Nuno Santos, graduated in Sociology, has a Masters in Public Policy and a Doctorate in Political Science and has a post-graduate degree in Data Analysis in Social Sciences also from ISCTE. In his resume of him, available in his biographical note, he also has a postgraduate degree in Political Communication and Marketing from ISCSP, a PhD in Sociology from Warwick, UK and a postgraduate degree in Tax Law from IDEFF. He has also worked as a professor in postgraduate courses at IPPS-IUL and Nova SBE.

Like many members of his government, António Costa ended up completing his education at the Faculty of Law of the University of Lisbon. Furthermore, in the previous Executive, the influence of that period in his choices was evident: Eduardo Cabrita and Pedro Siza Vieira, contemporaries and friends of the Prime Minister, were ministers with their own weight in the organic structure of the government.

The other friend from the FDUL days, Diogo Lacerda Machado – the “best friend”, as Costa called him – did not join the government, but was involved in the negotiations with the victims of the BES, in the renegotiation of the privatization of TAP and in the negotiation of the agreement between CaixaBank and Isabel dos Santos in BPI, ending up as director of TAP.

Also licensed by the FDUL, although at another time Francisca Van Dunem was also part of the government cast, as did João Soares or Luís Castro Mendes, two of António Costa’s three former ministers of culture.

Nonetheless, ISCTE has already served as an incubator for several party cadres to begin with Antonio José Segurowhich fell into the hands of António Costa, and for Augusto Santo Silvanow President of the Assembly of the Republic and former minister of Costa, Sócrates and Guterres.

Also, this higher education institution, as you can read in the pupils notables, has formed several political cadres and many of them have also occupied executive positions in socialist governments, such as Carolina Ferra, Catarina Marcelino, Cláudia Joaquim, João Wengorovius Menezes, Miguel Cabrita, all former Secretaries of State, Graça Fonseca, former Minister of Culture and, of course, Maria de Lurdes Rodrigues, the current dean and former minister of education in the government of José Sócrates.