Electoral triumph of the socialists in Portugal

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António Costa from the Socialist Party in Portugal addresses his supporters after the announcement of the election results. © Armando Franca/AP/dpa

Prime Minister António Costa’s ruling party won the absolute majority of seats in the early parliamentary elections. The right-wing populists should also cheer.

Lisbon – The ruling Socialist Party (PS) surprisingly won the new parliamentary elections in Portugal and won the absolute majority of the seats.

The moderate, more social-democratic PS of Prime Minister António Costa received a good 41.6 percent of the vote on Sunday and thus won at least 117 of the 230 seats in Lisbon’s “Assembleia da República”, according to the electoral authority.

Modest Victory Speech

In his victory speech, Costa cheered modestly and cautiously early Monday morning. The 60-year-old promised “dialogue” to the cheers of his supporters and assured that he would “govern for all Portuguese”.

So far, Prime Minister António Costa, who has been in power since the end of 2015, has not had an absolute majority – so he was dependent on the support of smaller left-wing parties with his minority government.

In the election campaign, Costa campaigned for a continuation of his previous policy: he wants to continue to promote the economy, reduce social inequalities – and at the same time stabilize public finances.

Right-wing populists are improving significantly

After counting more than 99 percent of the votes, the PS improved by more than five percentage points compared to the last election in autumn 2019. According to the preliminary results, the largest opposition party, the conservative PSD under its top candidate Rui Rio, only got about 27.9 percent. All other parties remained in the single digits.

In addition to the PS, the right-wing populist Chega (It’s enough) led by top candidate André Ventura was able to celebrate. It improved from 1.29 to 7.15 percent compared to 2019 and increased the number of MPs from one to at least eleven.

New elections called in November 2021

Costa has led two minority governments since late 2015, supported by smaller left-wing parties such as the Marxist Left Bloc (BE), the Communists (PCP) and the Greens (PEV). However, there was no formal coalition agreement. The cooperation broke up last autumn when BE, PCP and PEV, together with the conservative opposition, rejected Costa’s draft budget for 2022 in parliament. President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa then called new elections in early November.

The former allies had demanded more social spending in the 2022 budget from the socialist government, also with a view to the EU’s billions in corona aid. However, Costa did not want to give up his cautious spending policy.

Parliamentary elections in Portugal
Socialist Party supporters react to election results announced by TV stations. © Armando Franca/AP/dpa

During the election campaign, the trained lawyer Costa had long declared an absolute majority as the goal in order to “have a stable government”. dpa


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