Socialists won majority in Portugal general elections 2022

 Left parties lost support while far right made gains


Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa pulled off a stunning victory in  the general elections, winning a third consecutive term with his Socialist Party securing an absolute majority in parliament.  The turnout was 57.9% which was the highest since 2011. 

Prime Minister Costa convinced voters the Socialists were the only party that could provide stable government at a crucial time, as the country prepares for investment and reform under the European Union’s pandemic recovery plan.

“This is a special night for me,” Costa told cheering supporters. “The Portuguese have confirmed that they want a Socialist Party government for the next four years. They want stability, certainty and security.” 

Socialists emerged as the real winners of the Portugal’s general elections 2022. Portugal’s ruling Socialist Party (PS) has won the majority in the snap elections. Socialist success disproved recent opinion polls that suggested the election was on a knife edge after a sudden surge in support for the PSD.

 Ruling Socialists not only defeated Conservative PSD but also most of the opinion polls and political pundits. Exit polls were indicating a hung parliament and possibility of another coalition government led by Socialist Party.

Opinion polls were suggesting a swing to the right in the general elections 2022. But on the contrary, Socialists increased their votes and seats on January 30 general elections. The ruling Socialists won nearly 117 seats an increase of 09 seats in the house of 230 to form a single party majority government. Socialists bagged 41.7% of popular votes, the largest since 2005.

It means that Social Democratic Prime Minister Antonio Costa will be able to form the government without the support of Left parties. Costa formed the Left Bloc and Communist Party in 2015.

The Left Bloc and Communist Party lost more than half of the votes and emerged as the real losers of the 2022 general elections. Left Bloc’s vote fell from 10% in 2019 to 4.5% in 2022. The Portuguese Communist Party’s vote almost halved to 4.4% . 

Both were leapfrogged by a new far-right party Chega, which took third place with over 7%. It will have at least 12 seats, an increase of 11 seats from 2019 when it won just one seat. With a dozen lawmakers, the far-right is set to be a significant force in the Portuguese parliament for the first time since a 1974 revolution ended the Fascist-style dictatorship founded by António Oliveira Salazar in the 1930s.

Despite the big lead, Costa pledged to work in dialogue with all other parties, apart from Chega, as he seeks to pull the country out of the pandemic and implement investments and reforms to underpin the recovery.

It seems that voters have punished the left parties for triggering the political crisis as they refused to support the last budget which triggered new elections.

The largest opposition party, the conservative PSD under its top candidate Rui Rio, came to just under 30 percent according to the preliminary results. In the previous election in autumn 2019, the PS won 36.3 percent, the PSD received 27.8 percent. All other parties, including the right-wing populist Chega (It’s enough), remained in the single digits.

The new parties on the right have squeezed the PSD’s traditional ally, the conservative CDS-People’s Party. A major force in the last center-right government from 2011-2015, it looked certain to win no seats.

                                                                                Khalid Bhatti 

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