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Author Topic: Portugal's politics and elections  (Read 93043 times)
Mike88
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« on: September 15, 2016, 06:36:42 pm »

Because i haven't seen many thread regarding Portugal and Portuguese politics, i decided to start a new one.

Portugal is located in southwestern Europe and has a population of around 10,340,000 inhabitants. The country runs in a semi-presidential system were the President of the Republic is the head of state although it doesn't have any executice powers. He or she has the power to veto laws, dismiss the Prime Minister and dissolve Parliament. The Prime Minister, the head of the government, has all executive powers although it has to respond to Parliament and the President.

The Portuguese parliament (Assembleia da República) is a unicameral body composed with 230 MPs vested with the legislative powers.

The Portuguese political scene is dominated by two parties: the center-left Socialist Party (PS) and the center-right Social Democratic Party (PSD). Other parties represented in Parliament, local councils, and regional Parliaments include the Left Bloc (BE) - leftwing; the Unitary Democratic Coalition (CDU) between the Communist Party (PCP) and the Green Party(PEV) - leftwing; the People's Party (CDS-PP) - center-right to right; and the People-Animals-Nature (PAN) - center-left.

The current President is Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, elected in January 2016; The Prime Minister is António Costa, leader of the Socialist Party. He's the head of a minority government suported by the Left Bloc and the Unitary Democratic Coalition; and although we don't have the figure of the leader of the opposition, the de facto leader of the opposition is the former Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho of the Social Democratic Party.

So, welcome to the new thread.
« Last Edit: January 17, 2018, 05:41:27 pm by Mike88 »Logged
DC Al Fine
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« Reply #1 on: September 15, 2016, 06:52:34 pm »

Since you're Portuguese, I have two questions:

1) Could you please explain what the main differences between PSD and CDS-PP? Policies or voters works.

2) Are there any weird features of Portuguese politics that make it unique (e.g. Weird voting system, a demographic group voting in a weird way etc.)
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« Reply #2 on: September 15, 2016, 07:06:31 pm »

Chances of a bailout? It seems every time I glance at a Portuguese headline these days it's something like "Costa says there will never be a bailout" or "Portugal averts bailout", which aren't great harbingers normally.
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DavidB.
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« Reply #3 on: September 15, 2016, 07:24:45 pm »

Welcome to the forum, Mike88! We had a thread on Portugal in the past, but it accidentally got deleted on election day.

Most recent poll (September 12, Aximage):

PS: 40%
PSD: 30%
BE: 11%
CDU: 7%
CDS: 5%

How is the mood in Portugal? It seems the government is rather popular, judging by the downward trend of PSD and the upward trend of PS and BE?
« Last Edit: September 15, 2016, 07:26:18 pm by DavidB. »Logged
Mike88
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« Reply #4 on: September 15, 2016, 07:26:04 pm »

Since you're Portuguese, I have two questions:

1) Could you please explain what the main differences between PSD and CDS-PP? Policies or voters works.

2) Are there any weird features of Portuguese politics that make it unique (e.g. Weird voting system, a demographic group voting in a weird way etc.)

1) There aren't many differences in the present moment. Both PSD and CDS are very similar in terms of policies and both parties are natural allies. They didn't start in the same page though. After the 1974 revolution, the CDS was founded as center-right party and some times was portrayed as the party of old regime while on the other hand the PSD was a normal social democratic party but with very important ties with the Catholic Church and private property  owners. This changed in 1978 when Francisco Sá Carneiro, PSD leader, and Freitas do Amaral, CDS leader, formed an alliance to win the 1979 elections and since then the PSD and CDS have become very close to each other. The PSD gradually became the major center-right party in Portugal and the CDS it's support when necessary. In terms of policy, the PSD is more socially liberal while the CDS is more conservative but in concrete policy they are basically in the same page. Also, the electorate of both parties is pratically identical as the 1987 general election and 1987 European election, held on the same day, explain.

2) Actually no. In terms of demographics, portuguese politics is very uniform. What we do have is a clear North-South divide. The North and Center of the country are pretty much PSD territory, with some PS strongholds in the Porto area and Coimbra. The South is left wing country, in particular the Alentejo region, where the Communist Party is King and Master.
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Mike88
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« Reply #5 on: September 15, 2016, 07:28:22 pm »

Chances of a bailout? It seems every time I glance at a Portuguese headline these days it's something like "Costa says there will never be a bailout" or "Portugal averts bailout", which aren't great harbingers normally.

Bailout? No. The EU will pretty much not allow it.
But, economic stagnation, persistent deficits and zero foreign investment? Yes.
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Mike88
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« Reply #6 on: September 15, 2016, 07:33:59 pm »

Welcome to the forum, Mike88! We had a thread on Portugal in the past, but it accidentally got deleted on election day.

Most recent poll (September 12, Aximage):

PS: 40%
PSD: 30%
BE: 11%
CDU: 7%
CDS: 5%

How is the mood in Portugal? It seems the government is rather popular, judging by the downward trend of PSD and the upward trend of PS and BE?

Well, the mood is not very good actually. The economy is not very good, taxes are set to raise again next year, i believe the mood is of somewhat resignation. And polls this time around are weird. Aximage was normally much more favorable to the PSD while Eurosondagem was very, very favorable to PS and now they swap their papers. Eurosondagem, i believe will realese a poll tomorrow, so we will see if the numbers from Aximage add up.
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« Reply #7 on: September 15, 2016, 07:48:01 pm »

Thank you. I was also wondering what kind of arrangement PS, BE and CDU have. Is there much coordination about government policy between the three parties, or is their agreement fairly loose and does PS mostly get to decide things by itself? Is there a written agreement/declaration on policies?
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Mike88
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« Reply #8 on: September 15, 2016, 08:03:02 pm »

Thank you. I was also wondering what kind of arrangement PS, BE and CDU have. Is there much coordination about government policy between the three parties, or is their agreement fairly loose and does PS mostly get to decide things by itself? Is there a written agreement/declaration on policies?

They made an agreement back in November 2015 with a range of policies but it was considered kind of vague actually. There has been some policy coordination between the 3 parties particulary in regard of devolution of wages in the public sector and making concessions to the PCP workers unions. But at the same time, the BE and CDU are swallowing many things actually. The "Galpgate", the bad organization of the wildfire season, the decrease of public investment, and others. What makes them go on, i believe, is the fear that when they break they could lose electorate between the 3 parties, and also the fear that Passos Coelho could return to power.
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« Reply #9 on: September 16, 2016, 04:44:13 am »

[...]
2) Are there any weird features of Portuguese politics that make it unique (e.g. Weird voting system, a demographic group voting in a weird way etc.)
[...]
2) Actually no. In terms of demographics, portuguese politics is very uniform. What we do have is a clear North-South divide. The North and Center of the country are pretty much PSD territory, with some PS strongholds in the Porto area and Coimbra. The South is left wing country, in particular the Alentejo region, where the Communist Party is King and Master.
Maybe I'm a bit naïve here and this is a very "Atlasian" thing to think, but given the traditional political inclination of rural Andalusia and Extremadura, might support for left-wing parties in zones like the afore-mentioned and the Alentejo have the same historical roots? I.e. large latifundies and a mass of agricultural laborers, in contrast to an economic structure based more on small land-owners in the northern Iberian Penisula? And going back even further, aren't these (hypothetical) structural differences a result of the Reconquista? Or am I just making up wild theories here?
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Mike88
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« Reply #10 on: September 16, 2016, 06:44:57 am »

Poll from Eurosondagem to SIC TV and Expresso newspaper

Conduted between 7 and 14 September

PS: 36,0% (+0,5%)
PSD: 32,1% (-0,4%)
BE: 8,9% (-0,9%)
CDU: 8,1% (+0,3%)
CDS: 6,9% (+0,9%)
PAN: 1,4% (+0,1%)
Others: 6,5% (-0,6%)

MoE: 3,08%
« Last Edit: September 16, 2016, 06:47:52 am by Mike88 »Logged
Mike88
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« Reply #11 on: September 16, 2016, 07:18:45 am »

[...]
2) Are there any weird features of Portuguese politics that make it unique (e.g. Weird voting system, a demographic group voting in a weird way etc.)
[...]
2) Actually no. In terms of demographics, portuguese politics is very uniform. What we do have is a clear North-South divide. The North and Center of the country are pretty much PSD territory, with some PS strongholds in the Porto area and Coimbra. The South is left wing country, in particular the Alentejo region, where the Communist Party is King and Master.
Maybe I'm a bit naïve here and this is a very "Atlasian" thing to think, but given the traditional political inclination of rural Andalusia and Extremadura, might support for left-wing parties in zones like the afore-mentioned and the Alentejo have the same historical roots? I.e. large latifundies and a mass of agricultural laborers, in contrast to an economic structure based more on small land-owners in the northern Iberian Penisula? And going back even further, aren't these (hypothetical) structural differences a result of the Reconquista? Or am I just making up wild theories here?

Yes, voting paterns are very similar in South of Portugal and South Spain. Don't know why in the Spanish case but in the Portuguese case, the events after the 1974 revolution divided the country in two, and one of the main issue dividing the country was land properties. In the Alentejo area in particular, there were large land properties owned by few people who then hired people to work on them but in the 1950's and 60's lands for ordinary people to work were very dificult to find and that created a lot of tension and therefore after the revolution everything escalated. After the revolution, the government enacted the "Reforma Agrária" in which large portions of land were scraped from their owners and given to their employes so they can work. This policy scared people on the north and center who feared the government was also going to take away their properties, thus creating a political division until today.

About, the Reconquista and the Arab influence in the South, it may have some truth in there but i don't know for sure.
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« Reply #12 on: September 16, 2016, 07:38:11 am »

Thank you for your response! I did not know how important land reform was after the revolution, so I learnt something new.
Regarding Reconquista and Arab influence my hypothesis was not a direct influence on today's voting patterns, but an indirect one through shaping the land property structure in the south.
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« Reply #13 on: September 16, 2016, 10:30:41 am »

The archipelago of the Azores, one of the two autonomous regions of Portugal, Madeira being the other, will hold regional elections on Sunday October 16 2016.

Voters will renovate the 57 MPs of the Azores Parliament. The electoral system to elect the 57 MPs is by proportional system in which the 9 islands of the archipelago will elect members in proportinon to the number of registered voters. The proportional system used is the d'Hondt method, plus an adicional 5 MPs are elected in Compensation constituency.

The parties represented in the current Parliament are:
PS - 31 MPs Absolute Majority
PSD - 20 MPs
CDS - 3 MPs
CDU - 1 MP
BE - 1 MP
PPM - 1 MP

The current President of the region, Vasco Cordeiro, is seeking a second term and his main challenger is the PSD Azores leader Duarte Freitas.

There aren't pratically many polls about this election. The only turned public until date is from April 2015 and conducted by Norma Açores:

PS - 33,2%
PSD - 27,9%
BE - 1,3%
CDU - 1,3%
CDS - 1,1%
Others - 6,1%
Undecided/Do not answer - 29,1%

Although, as i said there aren't many polls and i don't know if there will be one until the election, the PS has the upper hand in the election and will, with high certainty, win. The main question is if they will hold their majority or not.
« Last Edit: September 16, 2016, 10:33:46 am by Mike88 »Logged
Mike88
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« Reply #14 on: September 19, 2016, 01:26:42 pm »

Ok, an update on a somewhat weird weekend here in Portugal.

The leader of the opposition, Pedro Passos Coelho, will speak at a book launch next week. Nothing strange here unless you are talking about a book that describes the sexual life of many politicians including many ministers from his own government. LOL

The PS-BE-CDU coalition is still grappling with the new propety tax, which, from the information we still have, is very vague and according to many economists very unfair. The tax will, although things can change until the budget is presented in mid October, affect the aggregate assets of taxpayers in an amount between 500,000 to 1,000,000 euros without counting the municipal tax on real estate.

And the President is expected to veto a law which allows the tax authorities to access bank accounts of more than 50,000 euros. This raises a lot of constitucional questions but the PM has said it will not change the law. At most, the President could send the law to the Constitucional Court.
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Mike88
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« Reply #15 on: September 21, 2016, 12:49:35 pm »

New update on the weird events that unfolded last weekend.

Pedro Passos Coelho will not present the controversial book about the sex lifes of many politicians, including himself. After many pressures from members of both PSD and CDS he decided to recant his position. Better later than never.

The proposed property tax is still causing a lot of division in the government. This got a bit awkward when this weekend, Mariana Mortágua, MP from the Left Bloc, said in a PS conference that the Socialists should "lose the shame of taxing those who are accumulating money" and adding also, "It's on the hands of the PS, that if you think about inequality, say what you think of the economic system of financial capitalism". These comments were very aplauded by the audience and, therefore, are creating lot of controversy.
Many Socialists MPs have attacked these statements by insinuating that the Left Bloc owns the PS. And also many local officials, in particular Porto mayor, Rui Moreira, have called this statements and tax proposals as a pillage and nickmame it as "IMM" Imposto Mariana Mortágua - Mariana Mortágua Tax.

Also, the ill-fated former Prime Minister José Sócrates was invited to make a speech at the PS summer university next Friday. Of course this invitation is not being well received by many Socialists leaders because Sócrates continues to be a very toxic figure in portuguese politics.
« Last Edit: September 21, 2016, 04:39:52 pm by Mike88 »Logged
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« Reply #16 on: September 22, 2016, 08:05:24 am »

Glad to see the Blóco somewhat holding the PS to a higher standard. If you want confidence and supply, you should at least provide a few policies in the right direction. Or in this case, in the left direction.

Welcome by the way, and good work on the updates!
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Mike88
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« Reply #17 on: September 23, 2016, 10:56:20 am »

The PSD will send to the Constitutional Court the changes to the municipal property tax (IMI), that were approved by the PS-BE-CDU coalition today.
The changes in the tax will allow an increase in the rates payable by owners with properties with higher solar exposure, better views and higher environmental quality. According to the government, the tax may increase the localization ratio over 20% or, in cases where there is a negative assessment, decrease the coefficient by 10%.
If this tax increase is considered unconstitutional, it could be a big blow to the government.
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Mike88
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« Reply #18 on: September 26, 2016, 11:06:35 am »

For those who have questions about the political geography of Portugal, here's a map:



Blue: Right;
Light-Blue: Center-Right;
Yellow: Center;
Pink: Center-Left;
Red: Left;

This map aggregates local and general election results between 1976 and 2009.
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Mike88
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« Reply #19 on: September 30, 2016, 10:07:03 am »

As expected, the President of the Republic has vetoed and has devolved to Parliament, the law that allows the tax authorities access to bank accounts of more than 50,000 euros. The President justifies his veto because of the bad situation in the banking system and that it goes far beyond the EU rules. The government hasn't reacted yet, but in the last few days they have been preparing for the veto. Plus, it's not clear if the government will drop the law or change it.

More here: http://observador.pt/2016/09/30/marcelo-veta-fim-do-sigilo-bancario-para-contas-acima-de-50-mil-euros/
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Mike88
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« Reply #20 on: October 02, 2016, 02:52:41 pm »

1st poll for the Azores regional election:

Norma Açores to Açoriano Oriental newspaper

PS: 66,9%
PSD: 20,7%

Turnout: 65,4%

Well, it's a foregone conclusion that the PS will win, but this result is very weird with a highly overestimated result for the PS. Plus, the turnout numbers just don't add up because the turnout in Azores in the last elections, has surrounded the mid 40%.

« Last Edit: October 02, 2016, 04:57:57 pm by Mike88 »Logged
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« Reply #21 on: October 06, 2016, 10:02:49 am »

The government has decided to drop, for now, the controversial law that allows the tax authorities access to bank accounts of more than 50,000 euros.

Also, the government announced another fiscal pardon, the second in 4 years, for those who have debts to the tax authorities and Social Security. This is not a good news for the government because stresses the argument held by many, in particular the PSD, that the deficit numbers are not as good as the government paints them.
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Mike88
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« Reply #22 on: October 07, 2016, 07:22:19 am »

New poll from Aximage to Correio da Manhã and Jornal de Negócios:

PS 37,7% (-2,1%)
PSD: 30,6% (+0,5%)
BE: 8,7% (-1,9%)
CDU: 7,5% (+0,9%)
CDS: 6,1% (+1,5%)
Others: 9,4%

MoE: 4,00% 

Conducted between 1 and 3 October 2016. Polled 608 voters.
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« Reply #23 on: October 07, 2016, 12:59:42 pm »

What is the relationship between BE and cDU like?
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« Reply #24 on: October 07, 2016, 01:25:42 pm »

What is the relationship between BE and cDU like?

Not very good. One feels threatened by the other, and because they compete for a similar or the same section of the electorate, they tend to campaign pretty much against each other, sometimes in a very, very ugly way.

The tension between both of them is a constant threat to the PS minority government.
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