Political Development

Party Affiliation

Profession/ Current priorities

Political Aims/ Priorities/ Assessments




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[ European Commission, DG V ]

© Jan 2001

European Database: Women in Decision-Making

Celeste Cardona

Political Development

1. What made you decide to go into politics?
Serving others.

2. Is there a tradition of political involvement/policy - making in your family?
No, very little. I have also only recently become involved in political life.

3. Have you had or do you have any person or political personality who has been a model or reference for you?
At a national level it was Adelino Amaro da Costa; he was a very interesting man, active, with great vitality, he gave to others, an amazing man. At an international level, Margaret Thatcher, with all her defects and qualities, she was a fascinating woman from the point of view of her capacity, energy, her convictions, right or wrong; these were the people who marked me most.

4. Have you been engaged in political grassroots activities before your involvement in party politics - e.g. in a citizens' rights, parents or other initiatives? What were important experiences you made?
Yes, Parents' Associations from the kindergarten and school because I have a 28 year old son, but nothing otherwise.

5. Have there been changes in your private life which affect or have affected your political career?
My more active participation in party political life took place after I decided I had finished my academic and professional training and when I was already in a situation in which I could have an active party political life.

6. Did your objectives change during your political career?
I don't set objectives in politics, I don't have pre-established objectives, I look at politics as an activity within that I know how to do from a professional and technical point of view and within the convictions I hold; doing something for people, that is how I view politics. Within the position I hold I try to do things well. I don't have established objectives, I do it because I like doing these things.

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Party Affiliation

1. What was your motivation to join a political party?
I had the opportunity of knowing Dr. Francisco Lucas Pires with whom I had a day to day professional and personal relationship and it was that which motivated me to join the party. He was a fascinating man and it was that which made me join the CDS (Social Central Democrats). His ideas were similar to mine at the time and so I decided to join the party.

2. Which party and when?
The Partido Popular (People's Party). Since 1982/1983.

3. Does your party have equal opportunity regulations?
No and a good thing too.

4. Which office/function did you hold in your party at the beginning? How long after joining? How did you get into running for office?
I joined the Gabinete de Estudos (Studies' Bureau) of something which at the time was an internal Organisation of the Mulheres Democratas-Cristãs (Women Christian Democrats) party. I was invited to join the Gabinete de Estudos as I already had some experience in this area. I gave conferences, wrote papers, lots of things which people in parties do. Then I stood for election in the District of Aveiro in the 1984/85 General Elections. Then, I was Leader of the Municipal Assembly, then Leader of the District Assembly, President of the National Council, on the National Political Commission. I always stood for election and was proposed by groups of militants who see who are the best people for the jobs. Always elected.

5. Did you have any mentors inside the party?
For many years I have had a deep admiration for the President of the Party - Dr. Paulo Portas.

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Profession/ Current priorities

1. How does your profession relate to your political work?
What I bring to politics is my professional and training experience which I consider useful to politics. My academic training at university, in the area of the public finances, budget and taxation I believe are a benefit to politics on account of which I try to make the most of my experience in my political activities.

2. What kind of qualifications do you have?
I have a degree in Law. At the University Centre - I have a Master's degree course from the Law Faculty of the Lisbon University. I'm a lawyer and researcher at the Centro de Estudos Fiscais (Centre for Taxation Studies).

3. Is it possible to articulate your professional life and your political career?
I don't regard political life as a career, I would like to be quite clear about this. I have a professional and personal career. In my professional career I have objectives and there is one I still have to achieve which is a doctorate. Basically, politics is an opportunity to bring added value to my area of intervention and it's way of participating in the life of my country.

4. In which areas do you see your special competencies?
Budgeting, taxation, macro economics.

5. What are your political priorities?
I don't have any political priorities, I work in accordance with the positions I hold. I have already been a member of the European Parliament, now I sit in the Assembleia da República (Parliament), well, I carry out my work according to the position. I, therefore, don't have any political priority.

6. What are your main areas of intervention?
Public Finances, Taxation, Budgets.

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Political Aims/ Priorities/ Assessments

1. Which objectives would you like to achieve through your political work?
I don't have political objectives, I'm in politics because I like it, it's a means of personal realisation.

2. Do equal opportunities strategies in your opinion have an impact in your country in the promotion of women in decision-making- please specify?
The fundamental strategy is women wanting to be in politics, it lies with the will of women; women have very specific ideas about the world, life, the family, politics, they know perfectly well when and how they want to be involved in political decisions; then there are other areas in which they want to intervene: education, public administration, universities, you just have to look at a classroom in the universities and, if ten years ago, there weren't many of them, today there is a very significant number of women and they are investing, sensibly in my opinion, in their academic training, in their empowerment, and they shall participate in political activity when they want and with that which they believe is best and know how, when and where they're most needed. It's no good decreeing on paper that the problem of women's participation is solved, it's not, it will only be when it is. They participate increasingly, I don't believe there is, nor should there be, any obstacle but there also shouldn't be any decree that obliges women to participate. As a strategy only in indirect form, the State should create, develop and expand a support network for women: kindergartens, play schools, launderettes, accessibility etc. a whole group of institutions which facilitate life for people and when I say people I also include women. The strategy should be this group of institutions which, if women want to participate, might permit their integration into political life. You just have to look at cases in northern Europe where women participate and sit in Parliament and on the Government and not as a consequence of a law. Those countries have long created conditions in the area of indirect support which permit women to decide to follow this or that path with any constraint of any nature. In this sense the strategy should be this.

3. Do you think you have benefited from these strategies personally? How do you assess these strategies?
No, it's not by chance that only once my son was quite grown up did I decide to get involved in active political life. I also sometimes benefited from that support which women in my family have always had, the father or mother who always help - the grandparents.

4. Do you see direct or indirect discrimination in conventional policy-making? What is it that keeps women from committing themselves to politics?
Only in terms of what I said before, considering discrimination and lack of support structures. Any other type of discrimination, I don't think so, I speak of my own experience, I have never felt that discrimination.

5. What are the major obstacles that women need to overcome?
Apart from their own desire to do so, sometimes even when women want to do so they can't because of lack of support; these women may be limited or conditioned by this lack of support structures.

6. What obstacles have you had to overcome in your own career?
I haven't had any obstacles because each time I stood for election it was through the proposal of a group of militants, by public selection procedure on an equal footing with men and women. I became an assistant lecturer at the Faculty by public selection procedure, I joined the Centro de Estudos Fiscais by public selection procedure. So there have been no obstacles in my political life.

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