LISBON – Portugal’s ruling Socialist Party won Sunday’s snap elections, winning the most seats in parliament, although it failed to secure the majority it has sought to rule without. do not form alliances.
The results have brought relief to Prime Minister António Costa, Portugal’s leader for the past six years, who has been best known for managing the country’s response to the pandemic but also facing questions. asked about his ability to manage the economy.
Mr Costa – who is expected to be tasked by the Portuguese president with forming a government – still needs to forge a coalition in a shabby parliament that just last November won’t pass a budget, set the stage for a snap election on Sunday.
Marina Costa Lobo, a political scientist at the University of Lisbon, said: “It will be necessary to wait and see how coalitions emerge – whether on the left or the right – and this could be more important.” .
With 98% of votes counted, Portugal’s Socialist Party won 42% of the vote, slightly below its share in the most recent election in 2019. Social Democrats The centre-right, aka PSD, got about 28% of the vote.
Quick elections were held in November following a budget dispute, which involved defecting from Mr. Costa’s left-wing partners.
Mr. Costa initially bet on increasing his party’s seats in Parliament – saying at one point he sought an absolute majority there – and polls early in the campaign showed the Socialists had gain advantage. As Election Day approached, however, their prospects began to dim and some polls showed their lead slipping, only to make a change on Sunday.
For Maria Júlia Boanova and António Boanova, a married couple who retired at the age of 80, the management of Mr. Costa’s health crisis was a key factor in their vote on Sunday. Both fell ill with Covid-19, and Mr. Boanova was at times hospitalized in the public health system, which boosted his support for the government.
“Everything is in place – doctors, nurses, everything,” he said. “Politicians never give me much, but the people who give me at least something are socialists.”
Mr. Costa depends on goodwill from his pandemic management, often envy other European countries.
Although Portugal was ravaged by early waves of the coronavirus in 2020, the country has embarked on an active vaccination campaign that has more than 90% of the population vaccinated, among the highest rate in the world. For that to happen, the government recruited Henrique Gouveia e Melo, a former submarine squadron commander who eventually became a very popular face in the government’s vaccination effort.
Many Portuguese also applaud Mr Costa for avoiding austerity measures that his conservative predecessors adopted after the 2008 financial crisis, such as tax increases and wage cuts in the region. labour. The backlash to austerity paved the way for Mr. Costa to come to power in 2015.
However, political scientist Costa Lobo, said public opinion research shows that Portuguese voters remain concerned about the economy alongside the pandemic.
“There are also fears and expectations of a decline in the economy in the near future and some economic pessimism,” she said.
In Lisbon’s upscale Lapa neighborhood, 49-year-old Vladym Pocherenyuk, who works at an embassy in the capital, said he was disgusted with Socialists after seeing them in power for six past year. He voted for a small liberal party called the Liberal Initiative.
“We still see many young and qualified people going abroad to earn a decent salary, like my daughter who is working in Dubai,” he said. “I struggle to get to the end of the month with what I get paid and that’s the situation for most people.”
Experts agree that the new government’s main concern will be passing the budget again.
Portugal is waiting for a new recovery from the European Union worth about 16.6 billion euros, or about 18.5 billion dollars, and is considered crucial to stabilizing the economy of the land. water as it recovers from the pandemic. The amount, however, depends on Portugal meeting various goals, including reducing its budget deficit.
Sunday’s election also brought good news for Portugal’s far-right party, Chega, which has won at least seven seats, on track to become parliament’s third-largest party.
The party, founded in 2019 by defectors from the PSD, won its first seat in Parliament that year. Since then, it has become a fixture in Portuguese politics, supporting famous candidate for provocative statements about race relations and expressed nostalgia for the former dictator of Portugal, António de Oliveira Salazar.
However, experts say the extent of the party’s influence remains unclear. The centre-right PSD said it was not interested in joining forces with the party, limiting the influence Chega could have in a future government.
Catia Bruno contributed reporting from Lisbon.
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/30/world/europe/portugal-election.html Portugal’s socialists win the most seats in Parliament, but not the majority