Portugal’s Socialist Party wins re-election

5319The Socialist Party under António Costa has retained power in Portugal following yesterday’s general election. Results available at the time of writing suggest that the party has increased its share of seats and may seek to renew its agreement with the Left Bloc and Communist parties.

Diputados_por_distrito_(elecciones_a_la_Asamblea_de_la_República,_2015).svgPortugal elects its 230 seat Assembly via closed party lists based on 18 mainland regions, two self-governing island regions (Azores and Madeira) and separate lists for Potuguese living in Europe and elsewhere in the world. Each list elects between two and 47 MPs.

Provisional Results

(based on Interior Ministry statistics and before final overseas region reported) which include a thumbnail political compass indicator for each group:

  • Socialist Party (centre left) 36.7% (+4.4%) 106 seats (+20)
  • Social Democrats (centre right) 27.9% (a) 77 seats (-12)
  • Left Bloc (far left) 9.7% (-0.5%) 19 seats (no change)
  • Unitary Democratic Coalition* 6.5% (-1.8%) 12 seats (-5)
  • CDS-People’s Party (right wing) 4.3% (a) 5 seats (-13)
  • People Animals Nature (green) 3.3% (+1.9%) 4 seats (+3)
  • Chega (populist right) 1.3% (new party) 1 seat
  • Liberal Initiative (liberal) 1.3% (new party) 1 seat
  • Livre (eco-socialist) 1.1% (+0.5%) 1 seat (+1)

* UDC is an electoral alliance between the Communist Party and Ecological Party

(a) The Social Democrats and CDS-PP contested the previous election as a joint alliance known as Portugal Ahead and won 38.6% of the vote and 107 MPs.

Turnout was just 54.5% – the lowest since the revolution which restored democracy in 1975 and 1.3% down on the last election in 2015.

The Guardian suggests that this positive result for the left bucks the trend of recent elections in Europe. But whilst parties of the right and centre right have certainly won a good deal of recent contests across Europe, I would suggest that there is no general right-ward or left-ward shift in Europe as much as a move towards success for mainstream parties at the expense of the populist right and far left.

With at least 106 seats in the new Parliament, Mr Costa is in a stronger position with his former allies in the Left Bloc and UDC alliance but has indicated a willingness to continue the partnership with one or both groups. The People Animals Nature party now has four seats and may also enter coalition discussions. Portuguese law does not require the government to have an overall majority in the Parliament but requires the opposition to gather an absolute majority (ie at least 116 MPs) in order to defeat the government in a confidence motion or to block the government’s programme.