Historic victory for Antonio Costa


EAt first it looked like it would be an extremely close race in Portugal. But then António Costa achieved a historic election result: After counting 99 percent of the constituencies, the Socialist Party (PS) of the incumbent head of government received 41.6 percent of the votes, an increase of around six percent compared to 2019. The Socialists under José Sócrates last managed to win an absolute majority 17 years ago.

The latest polls had predicted a neck-and-neck race with the conservative PSD party, which then only got 27.8 percent. “An absolute majority is not absolute power and does not mean that one can govern alone. It is a responsibility to govern for all Portuguese,” Costa said on election night. Although the results of the four foreign constituencies are still pending, the Socialists have already secured 117 of the 230 mandates; abroad they could win another MP or two.

No majority for the budget

Shortly after the polling stations were closed, it was clear that the PS would again be the strongest force in the new parliament; Costa has been in office at the head of a minority government since 2015. But at the end of 2021, the head of government seemed to have miscalculated politically. He did not get a majority for his budget, and the president called early elections after just over two years.

Costa fought for an absolute majority from the start, but this seemed increasingly unlikely the longer the election campaign went on. In the event of a defeat, Costa had announced his withdrawal. But then he triumphed.

If the Socialists had just missed an absolute majority, Costa originally wanted to govern together with the animal protection party “People – Animals – Nature” (PAN) and the small left-wing Livre party, but in the end they only got one mandate each. Before the election, he was already cautiously promoting this “Ecoeringonça” – an ecological new edition of the loose government cooperation that Costa maintained between 2015 and 2019 with the left bloc (BE) and the communists.

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This time it could be a “rattletrap” with the animal rights activists. This is the German translation of Geringonça, a derogatory term used by the opposition for Costa’s minority government, which is tolerated by the two left-wing parties.


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