If the Portuguese do not attend conferences to discuss new ideas, why do they like conferences so much to the point that they have become a sort of national sport or entertainment? The answer is hand-shaking. The Portuguese like to be in company, specially of important people. They like to be seen close to power, which they take as a sign of their own importance. Shaking hands with important people, such as a minister or a secretary of state, is an asset as they might need some favour from them in the future. In this sense, most conferences in Portugal could well be called hand-shaking conferences or conferências do bacalhau, as they would say here with typical humour (bacalhau, which translates for codfish, is a popular expression for hand-shaking).
Pedro Arroja, no Portugal Contemporâneo.
Rodrigo Adão da Fonseca