A boost for social democratic parties in Europe: Costa’s big win in Portuguese elections

A boost for social democratic parties in Europe: Costa's big win in Portuguese elections

Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa will speak to the press on Sunday evening before announcing the first ballot on ballot.AP . image

With nearly all the votes counted, the Socialists end up with 42 percent of the vote. With this result, the party won an absolute majority of seats in Parliament. In total, the PS has 117 seats out of 230. The party that took second place, the centre-right PSD party, is stuck at 71 seats.

The result is another boost for Europe’s long-suffering Social Democratic parties, which did win elections in Germany last year but played no significant role in the approaching polls in France.

Antonio Costa, who has led two leftist governments since 2015, cleaned up his country’s bad image after the financial crisis. Under his rule, and thanks in part to the global economy, Portugal has experienced strong financial growth in recent years.

By an absolute majority, Costa gets rid of his old accomplices of indulgence. Their previous government was only viable with the support of radical left parties, including the Communist Party. The struggle with these parties, who, among other things, demanded a higher minimum wage than Costa wanted to offer, led to the downfall of his government in November last year and to Sunday’s snap elections.

Costa emphasized in his victory speech that despite his absolute majority, he would continue to engage in talks with the other parties. An absolute majority is not an absolute power, it is not governing alone. This is an increased responsibility.

Radical right penetration

The elections also mark the final penetration of the radical right, which has not been able to find fertile ground in Portugal for a long time. Chega (“Pasta”), the party that opposes minorities such as the Roma, is on the ballot with 7 percent of the vote. With this said, Chega, which until now had to be content with one seat, appears to have become the third in the country.

The turnout in the elections ranged between 56 and 60 percent. The fact that many Portuguese voters did not think it was worth casting a vote made analysts worried about the population’s participation in politics. The turnout is higher than in the 2019 parliamentary elections. At that time, more than half of the voters stayed home.

Correction (01-31-’22): An earlier version stated that the turnout in the elections was 40 to 44 percent. This was exactly the percentage that stayed at home. This has been corrected in the version above.

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