THE GENERAL ELECTIONS IN PORTUGAL 2019

The 2019 Portuguese legislative elections confirm the resilience of its party system and, in particular, of the center-left Partido Socialista (PS), one of the few social democratic parties in Europe that did not lose electoral relevance in the past decade. Its vote share of almost 37 % strengthens the party’s position and confirms the positive evaluation that voters made of its 2015-2019 mandate. Parties on the right-wing side of the spectrum were the most significant losers. The center-right Partido Social Democrata (PSD) and the conservative Partido Popular (CDS-PP) lost in seats, going from a joint 38,5% in 2015 to a combined result that does not add up to more than 32 % in 2019. The CDS-PP was hit particularly hard. One of the lingering questions during the election was whether the two largest parties on the radical left – the Communists and the Left Bloc – would be punished or rewarded for the parliamentary agreement established with the PS during the 2015-2019 mandate. Though they were not massively punished, the Left Bloc did better than the Communists and consolidated its presence as the third largest party in Portugal. Results were worse for the Communists, who now appear more reticent than the Left Bloc to support a PS minority government. The greatest novelties in 2019 are (1) the positive results of PAN, a party that combines ecologist and animal rights concerns and that won four parliamentary seats and (2) the parliamentary entrance of three novel parties, each with one seat. Among the three, Chega stands out for being the first populist radical right party to achieve parliamentary representation in Portugal. Its results have less to do with its anti-immigration rhetoric than with its anti-establishment discourse. 

 

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