Cape Verde 1980 Constitution (reviewed 1992)


The Proclamation of National Independence is one of the supreme moments in the History of the Cape Verdian nation, resulting in the revitalization of our people, who have undergone the same vicissitudes of fate but who share the persistent hope of creating in these islands proper living conditions for all of our children. Independence has also allowed Cape Verde to become a full member of the international community.

However, the affirmation of an independent state was not accompanied by the establishment of a regime characterized by pluralistic democracy, but rather the organization of political power was subject to the philosophy and principles of a single party.

The exercise of power in this framework has demonstrated, on a universal scale, the necessity of introducing profound changes in the organization of the political and social life of these States. New ideas assail the world, destroying structures and concepts which seemed solidly established, completely changing the course of international political events.

In Cape Verde, political opening was announced in 1990, with the creation of the institutional conditions required for the first presidential and legislative elections within the framework of political competition.

Thus, on September 28, the National Popular Assembly approved Constitutional Law No. 2/III/90, which, in revoking Article 4 of the Constitution and establishing the principle of pluralism, created a new type of political regime.

Conceived as a means to revitalize democratic elections and a transition towards a new model for the organization of the political and social life of the country, it also established a different system of government and another form of suffrage, in view of imminent elections for a new legislative assembly.

It was in this context that the first legislative elections took place in January 1991, followed by Presidential elections in February. The participation of the population in these elections demonstrated clearly the country’s option in the direction of change of political regime.

However, the historical context in which, by means of a partial revision of the Constitution, parties were recognized as the principal instruments for the formation of political will in government, has led to a pluralistic democracy which continues to function under the rules and principles of the previous regime.

Nevertheless, the political and social reality was that the country was in a process of rapid and profound transformation, with the population and emerging political forces assuming the values which characterize a Democratic State, values not yet mirrored in the Constitution.

This Constitutional Law intends, then, to provide the country with a useful framework, in its text and in its new model. The option in favor of a Constitution with the basic principles of a pluralistic democracy, abandoning other governmental options, will provide stability to a country weak in resources, and political succession without upheaval.

Assuming the principle of popular sovereignty, this Constitutional text consecrates a Democratic State with a vast list of rights, liberties, and guarantees to citizens, the concept of the dignity of the human being as the absolute value which is supreme over the State itself, a system of government with a balance of power between the various national institutions, a strong and independent judiciary, local authorities whose officeholders shall be elected by the communities to whom they are responsible, a Public Administration at the service of the citizens and conceived as an instrument of development, and a system of defense of the Constitution characteristic of a pluralistic democracy.

Therefore, this Constitutional Law incorporates the profound political changes at work in the country and fosters institutional conditions for the exercise of power and of citizenship in a climate of liberty, peace, and justice, the basis of all economic, social and cultural development in Cape Verde.