On Sunday, the sixth of October, voters will decide Portugal election 2019.
The middle-sized of the three Iberian Peninsula nations (what, you forgot about Andorra?) heads to the polls, and we will soon know if they re-elected their left-leaning government.
Portugese politics can be a funny thing sometimes. The Social Democratic Party (PSD) is not a left-leaning party, but is actually center-right. They also have the most seats in the Assembly of the Republic, but are not in government.
Portugal’s prime minister is António Costa, leader of the Socialist Party (PS). That party has the second-most seats in the assembly at the time of the 2019 election with 85 compared to the PSD’s 89. What put the PS over the top is the support of left-wing parties like the Left Bloc (BE), Greens (PEV), and Communist Party (PCP). However, while these other parties prop up the PS government, there is no coalition. Just PS members and independents form the current government.
Find out more about the Portuguese elections, and after 6 October, who won.
Portugal’s Electoral System
Portugal’s legislature, the Assembly of the Republic, has 230 seats, of which a party needs 116 for a majority government. There are 22 constituencies within Portugal and abroad that elect a fixed number of members. For example, Lisbon, centered on the nation’s capital, has the most members at 47. Porto in the north has the second-most at 39. Like Austria, their European Union partners who voted a week earlier, Portugal utilizes the D’Hondt method, which is to say proportional representation.1 Each constituency is a separate race in which the votes are counted and seats are allocated.
There are also two seats for Portuguese ex-pats in Europe as well as two for ex-pats outside of Europe. This is similar to how France, for example, provides legislative representation to ex-pats, but on a much smaller scale.
Portugal Election 2019 in the EU Parliament
The PS was the leading party in the May 2019 European Parliament elections. They took nine out of the 21 seats which Portugal was allotted. The opposition PSD remained flat while the BE also gained a seat.2
Portugal Election 2019 Party Leaders
The leaders of parties currently inside the parliament are as follows:
- Socialist Party (PS): António Costa, prime minister
- Social Democratic Party (PSD): Rui Rio, leader of the opposition
- Left Bloc (BE): Catarina Martins
- CDS-People’s Party (CDS-PP): Assunção Cristas
- Portugese Communist Party (PCP): Jerónimo de Sousa
- Ecologist Party “The Greens” (PEV): Heloísa Apolónia
- People-Animals-Nature (PAN): André Lourenço e Silva
But What Do The Polls Say?
Should the polls be accurate on 6 October, the PS will be the largest party in the new Assembly of the Republic. They have a large lead over the PSD, though the PSD has narrowed the gap slightly from their campaign low point. This lead has been consistent throughout the campaign.3
Portugal Election 2019 Results4
As expected, the PS won the most seats and increased their share of the vote. Whereas they were well short of the majority line in the 2015 election, they are now shy by just ten seats. This will permit them to continue in government with the support of smaller left-wing parties. These parties of the left command an overall majority when put together, though Costa will most likely not seek a formal coalition with any of them.
The big losers in the election were the PSD, dropping 12 seats, while the CDS-PP, also on the right, fell 13.
The voting outcome was in line with what the opinion polls projected. The PS took first place and exceeded the opposition PSD by a comfortable margin.
In Lisbon, the largest constituency in Portugal, the PS came away with 20 seats out of 48, against the PSD who took just 12. In total, nine parties won at least one seat in Lisbon. Porto, the next-largest constituency with 40 seats, was more competitive. While the PS won here as well with 17 seats, the PSD was right behind on 15.
Leiria was one of the few bright spots for the PSD, taking 5 of 10 seats there, beating the PS’s four.
1: “Portugal’s election – a guide to the parties and politics” (by George Arnett, The Guardian website, published 2 October 2015, accessed 3 October 2019)
2: “Results by national party: 2019-2024” (2019 European election results website, election-results.eu, updated 24 June 2019, accessed 3 October 2019)
3: “Portugal – 2019 general election” (Politico.eu website, updated 1 October 2019, accessed 3 October 2019)
4: “Resultados Globais” (Ministry of Internal Administration website, accessed 6 October 2019, in Portuguese)
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