Elections for the European Parliament: Portugal

At this turn, Portugal elected one Member less than in the last European Parliament elections, due to the fact that Croatia is now a European Union Member, represented by 12 MEPs. The Treaty of Lisbon says that the European Parliament can't have more than 751 MEPs, therefore it was necessary to find some “room” within the Parliament and some countries “lost” some of their MEPs.

On 25th of May, Portuguese people could choose their 21 MEPs from 16 Portuguese political parties:

PS - Partido Socialista / Socialist Party

PND - Nova Democracia / New Democracy Party

MPT - Partido da Terra / Earth Party

MAS - Movimento Alternativa Socialista / Alternative Socialist Movement

PAN - Partido pelos Animais e pela Natureza / Party for Animals and Nature

POUS - Partido Operário de Unidade Socialista / Workers Party of Socialist Unity

PTP - Partido Trabalhista Português / Portuguese Labour Party

L - Livre / Free

BE - Bloco de Esquerda / Left Bloc

PCTP/MRPP - Partido Comunista dos Trabalhadores Portugueses / Portuguese Workers' Communist Party

PPV - Partido Pro Vida / Portugal Pro-Life

PDA - Partido Democrático do Atlântico / Democratic Party of the Atlantic

PNR - Partido Nacional Renovador / National Renovator Party

PCP-PEV - CDU - Coligação Democrática Unitária / Democratic Unitarian Coalition

PPD/PSD.CDS-PP - Aliança Portugal / Alliance Portugal

PPM - Partido Popular Monárquico / People's Monarchist Party

(The line-up is the same from the order of the raffle made by the Portuguese Constitutional Court for the elections. The acronyms are the original ones in Portuguese.)

Of these 16 political parties just five are represented in the Assembly of the Portuguese Republic: PS, BE, the coalition PCP-PEV (CDU) and the current government coalition, the PPD/PSD with CDS-PP: these ones decided to run together for the European elections with the name Aliança Portugal, to show they remain united in the government after the political crisis occurred last Summer, that almost lead to legislative elections in Portugal.

The main opposition party PS, as already expected, was the winner: they elected 1 MEP more. The coalition PPD/PSD.CDS-PP, the current government, lost 3 MEPs. The BE, which has been losing political strength in Portugal, lost 2 MEPs; on the contrary, the PCP-PEV coalition gained political strength and got 1 MEP more. But the novelty was the MPT that won his firsts 2 MEPs. The MPT was the true winner in the election night, but, in fact, one more winner was the abstention that achieved a new record in Portugal: 66%. This large percentage showed the disinterest of the Portuguese people in relation with the European Union.

Currently, with the idea of a European integration questioned over all Europe and a growing popular opposition against the European Union in Portugal - because of the aggressive crisis that we lived in the last years, with the financial assistance given by the Troika (European Commission + European Central Bank + International Monetary Fund) - the political parties didn’t talk so much about Europe, they didn't captivate the people’s interest about the European spirit. During the political campaign they were more concerned about the next legislative elections in 2015 (if the current government finish their four years mandate).

The main opposition, the Partido Socialista, during the campaign even presented its 80 measures for its government in 2015, that probably will win. One of the leading candidates of the coalition who governs Portugal, Paulo Rangel, called the main opposition PS “vírus socialista” (“socialist virus”) in one of his speeches; such a speech was compared to a Nazi one by a respected member of Partido Socialista, Manuel Alegre. The Partido Socialista brought the former Prime Minister José Sócrates (he signed the agreement with TROIKA) to the campaign on the last day, but this was seen as an outrage to the Portuguese people by the other political parties, because they say that the responsibility of all the austerity implemented by the current government is from Sócrates. He was more criticized by the current Vice Prime Minister Paulo Portas, head of CDS-PP, but Portas was the responsible of last Summer big political crisis that almost put the government to an end.

While CDU and BE (from the European United LeftNordic Green Left family) acted as usual, they attacked both fronts the Aliança Portugal (from the European People's Party family) and the Partido Socialista (from the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats family).

In Portugal, it is complicated to get consensus among the left-wing parties: that was one of the reasons for the origin of the new political party in Portugal, Livre, that also was another winner of the night, being the sixth political party most voted. Livre didn’t elect MEPs but if the elections had been for the Assembly of Portuguese Republic, they would have elected some deputies. The head of this new political party is well know within the European Parliament: Rui Tavares was an MEP of Bloco de Esquerda in the last term 2009-2014, and one of the goals of their political party is try to find a consensus among the Portuguese left parties for better make an opposition to the Portuguese right wing.

The far-right political parties in Portugal don’t have such a big influence like in other European countries, but this elections showed us that Portuguese are becoming more divided. The former Bâtonnier of Portuguese Bar Association was a surprise in these elections: Marinho Pinto was a great critic of the Portuguese politicians but even he surrendered to the policy: he was previously the head of Partido da Terra (MPT), and now he will represent his party in the European Parliament.

After these weeks of political campaign the possibility of a big coalition with the three big parties in Portugal (PPD/PSD, PS, CDS-PP) is clearly getting more complicated. Last summer, a big consensus was the desire of President Cavaco Silva during the political crisis. The problem of Portugal is that political parties do not rule by a long political consensus. Portugal is a small country where each one wants his own benefit, most of the people do not know how to collaborate for the benefit of the community, and this is reflected in our political parties’ attitude. There are policy measures that require more than four years to see the final results: a new government in Portugal means big changes to interrupt the political line of the former parties.

Of course each political party has its ideology and ideas that in a democratic regime must be defended, but all of them want one thing: the best for Portugal. The way to achieve the best is different for each political party, but in their ways there are some common paths. Portugal needs a longstanding national pact, shared among the political parties, with outlines which will allow the sustainable growth of the country, because, otherwise, more crises can come and we may not have the support of a strong European Union. But does Portugal will achieve this if more political parties appear in the Portuguese political scene? Does Portuguese people will develop any interest about the European Union? Let’s see in the next elections… 

Edited by: Celeste Concari