Sunday, May 28

The Socialist Party wins in Portugal, according to exit polls

The Socialist Party (PS) wins the elections in Portugal with between 37 and 42% of the vote and could reach an absolute majority, according to the exit polls prepared by the Center for Studies and Opinion Polls (CESOP) of the Catholic University for RTP, the Portuguese public television. However, the PS will most likely have to negotiate with other forces in order to govern. According to RTP, this poll has never failed to predict the winner of the elections. Participation has increased for the first time since 2005.

These results would give Prime Minister António Costa between 102 and 116 seats, just the figure that marks the absolute majority in the Parliament of 230 deputies. It is followed by the conservative Social Democratic Party (PSD), which would obtain between 84 and 94 representatives (30-35%). The ultra Chega party would be in third place with a range of 7 to 13 deputies. The Bloco Esquerda would get between three and seven, the same as the alliance of communists and greens. Liberal Initiative would get between five and nine representatives and the conservative CDS could stay out of Parliament. After knowing the projections, the militants of the PS that follow the count from the Hotel Altis in Lisbon have celebrated with cries of “victory”.

In the 2019 elections, the PS won the elections with 36.34% of the votes and 108 seats, followed by the conservative Social Democratic Party (PSD) with 27.76% and 79 deputies. The Bloco de Esquerda was in third place with 6.3% (19), followed by the alliance between the Communist Party and the Greens, which won 6.3% and 12 seats. The conservative CDS-PP won five deputies and the Liberal Initiative, one. The ultra Chega party only entered Parliament with one representative.

If confirmed, these results would leave an open panorama in which the set of agreements and negotiations can determine the composition and duration of the next Government of Portugal. According to article 187 of the Constitution, it is the president, the conservative Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, who appoints the prime minister once “the parties represented in the Assembly of the Republic have been heard and taking into account the electoral results.”

Since the fall of the dictatorship and the return of democracy, only five of 15 prime ministers have managed to reach the end of their mandate. In 2015, the Portuguese left broke a historic barrier by reaching an agreement that allowed the Socialist Party (PS) to govern in a minority with the support of the Portuguese Communist Party (PCP) and the Bloco de Esquerda despite not having won the elections. The president then appointed the winner, conservative Pedro Passos Coelho, as prime minister, but he only lasted 27 days in office.

That was disparagingly nicknamed ‘jerigonza’ (botched), but it ended up serving as an example for other European progressive forces and was one of the few governments in Portugal that managed to finish the legislature without having an absolute majority. In 2019 the PS won the elections without reaching an absolute majority. The gibberish was not repeated, but his former associates allowed him to govern until the progressive bloc broke up last October.

These early elections were called in November after the rupture of the left-wing bloc in the vote on the general budgets, of special importance this year due to the arrival of European Next Generation funds. During the campaign, Prime Minister António Costa has opted for a maximalist strategy asking for a majority for the Socialist Party and avoiding ruling on possible agreements.

“We shouldn’t say that. [que la jerigonza haya muerto para siempre]. What I said the other day is that perhaps one day there will be conditions for there to be an understanding with the PCP and the Bloco, but at the moment there are none. If there were, they would not have rejected the budgets. When they did it, they knew that the president would call elections,” Costa said during the campaign.

Pandemic Voting

The day has passed normally. In a clever negotiating maneuver, the president of a table in Faro, in the Algarve, deactivated the most serious incident that election day brought during the morning. A voter, not particularly young, had stood at the school gate without a mask and insisted on exercising her constitutional right to active suffrage. The rest threatened to leave if she let them through. Before calling the police, consultations were chosen: after a few minutes, the electoral table decided that the woman should lean out of one of the side windows of the building to deposit the ballot glancing. CNN Portugal captured the images of the event, presented with the title of ‘breaking news’.

The incident was virtually the only moment of anything resembling tension during election morning and the surge in turnout shows that fear of the coronavirus has not left the Portuguese at home. More than 800,000 voters, according to the newspaper Público, are isolated at home and could only go to vote towards the end of the day, between 6 and 7 p.m. The almost spring weather helped in Lisbon, which makes up the largest electoral district in the country, where 48 of the 230 deputies of the Legislative Assembly will come from.