Socialists look for allies after winning Portugal election
Portugal’s Socialist Party (SP) looks likely to continue in government despite failing to win an overall majority during the weekend’s general election.
Of the 230-seat parliament, the Socialists won 106, compared with 77 for the Social Democratic Party. Four seats are still yet to be announced.
Nearly 11 million people are registered to vote.
The Socialists might opt to rule as a minority government or pursue alliances to pass legislation, as they did previously with the Communist Party and radical Left Bloc.
Socialist Prime Minister Antonio Costa (pictured) said he would start talks with other parties over an agreement for the next four years.
Costa said he also meant to negotiate with the newly formed People-Animals-Nature party.
“It’s clear from this election that the PS is reinforced and the allied parties consolidated their positions,” a happy Costa told supporters chanting: “Victory. Victory.”
“Since we don’t have a majority alone, we have to find solutions that guarantee stability for the next four years,” the prime minister said.
“Political stability is essential for Portugal’s international credibility,” Costa told supporters.
He promised to improve debt-laden Portugal’s public finances, which was a key achievement in his first term, winning him support domestically and friends throughout the European Union, which is keen avoid a repeat of the 2008 financial crisis.
The Left Bloc, with 19 seats, said it was ready to open talks with the Socialists.
The Portuguese Communist Party had 10 seats and the Christian Democrats five, with four seats yet to be declared.
Costa took power in 2015 on a promise to backtrack on austerity measures enforced after the financial crisis, when Lisbon needed an international bailout. The Socialists reaped the rewards of Portugal’s subsequent economic rebound.
The party has substantially increased its strength from its 86 parliamentarians in the 2015 general election.
But the Socialists’ popularity had been hit by various scandals, including accusations of nepotism and a suspected coverup of weapons theft at a military camp.
In 2015 the Social Democrats won the most votes but the Socialists came to power after reaching formal deals with minor left-wing parties.
Since then the economy has grown above the EU average and cuts to public sector wages and pensions have been unpicked.
Negotiations could be more complex this time.
“These negotiations could be more complex than four years ago when the pact on the left was cemented by their common goal to unseat the right,” political scientist Antonio Costa Pinto told the media.
“Now the left as a whole has been reinforced. … Obviously, they will test the budgetary limits and the economic projections for the next few years,” Costa Pinto said, expecting the negotiations to take a few weeks with more participants than before.
Antonio Costa. Picture credit: Wikimedia