Portugal. According to
countryaah, the Socialist Party won big in the recent
election in February over the ruling alliance between the
Liberal Conservative Social Democratic Party (PSD) and the
right-wing populist People's Party (PP). For the first time
since the fall of the dictatorship in 1974, the socialists
gained their own majority in the National Assembly and could
form government alone. The Socialists took home 121 of the
230 seats, while the PSD received 75 seats and the PP 12. 14
seats went to the Left Alliance CDU and 8 to the Left Block
further out on the left. Socialist leader José Sócrates was
appointed prime minister. The Socialist Party is almost
social democratic and operates a market-oriented,
The new election was announced in the fall of 2004 by
President Jorge Sampaio, who felt that the PSD/PP
government had failed to gain control of the country's
tangled economy. Public support for the old government was
also low due to high unemployment.
The new government soon also faced severe financial
problems. In May, the EU warned that the deficit in the
state budget was too high - the forecast for 2005 was over
6%. A crisis package was presented by the government to
reduce the deficit to the eurozone's maximum limit of 3% by
2008. The number of public servants would be reduced by
75,000 by 2009, which caused them to go on strike in July.
Tax increases were also included in the crisis package, as
well as increased retirement age and reduced sickness
benefit for public employees. During the summer, the EU
deferred Portugal to 2008 to reach the three percent
In February, Portugal brought home its small force of 128
soldiers from Iraq, where it was part of the US-led
In June, former Prime Minister General Vasco dos Santos
Gonçalves passed away at the age of 83. Gonçalves was part
of the group of left-wing military commanders who took power
in the 1974 coup, thereby ending the long-standing
dictatorship. He stood close to the communists during his
brief tenure as prime minister until November 1975, when he
was maneuvered by less radical socialists.
In August, Portugal appealed to the outside world for
help in extinguishing the severe fires caused by prolonged
drought. The drought was described as the worst in modern
times and affected virtually the entire country.
New Constitution and Reforms
In the 1976 Democratic Constitution, the Military
Revolutionary Council was given the role of president's
advisers and guarantors of the new order that had been
established. On several occasions, the Council opposed
reforms that broke with the socialist ideas that played a
central role in the Armed Forces movement in 1974 and which
were enshrined in the Constitution, among other things, the
repatriation of banks was a protracted issue of conflict.
In 1974, a long-awaited land reform began, with the
establishment of collective land use for landless farmers.
In addition to extensive state expropriation, large areas
were taken over illegally and had to be returned later.
Until 1979, the Socialist Party had the largest group in
parliament. At the election that year, a right turn
occurred. The relationship between the government and the
President / Revolutionary Council became tense after the
right-wing parties came to power. The government's push to
privatize the economy following the revolutionary measures
of the revolution faced considerable opposition on the left.
In 1976, the Army Chief of Staff, General António Ramalho
Eanes, was elected President with the support of the
Socialists, Central Democrats and People's Democrats. He sat
until 1986, when Socialist leader Mário Soares took over,
the first civilian president in the country in sixty years.
In 1982, the military's constitutional political
influence was weakened. Parliament then voted against the
communists' votes to dissolve the Revolutionary Council and
set up three new bodies: a constitutional court, a civilian
government with advisory functions, and a defense council.
The Socialists were divided in the view of this
constitutional reform, but still voted in favor of retaining
the old formulations of nationalization of land property.
Political right turn from 1987
After the 1987 elections, the first majority government
in Portugal after the 1974 revolution was formed by Aníbal
Cavaco Silva of the Social Democratic Party (PSD), who
despite the name is a right-wing party. The new government
launched a comprehensive privatization of state-owned
enterprises in the energy supply, banking, heavy industry,
telecommunications and transport sectors. Marxist elements
of the Constitution were removed as they had previously
prevented private corporations from taking over state
In the 1990s, Portugal was shaken by several
eavesdropping and corruption scandals. In several of these
cases, PSD politicians were involved, which weakened voters'
confidence in the party and politicians in general. In the
1995 parliamentary elections, the Socialist Party (PS)
became the largest party and formed a minority government
led by António Guterres.
In the 1999 election, the popular Antonio Guterres got
more support, but the party did not get a pure majority. The
Socialist Party also won the presidential office in 1986.
Mário Soares sat for 1996, when PS's candidate Jorge Sampaio
won the presidential election with 53.8 percent support,
against former prime minister Aníbal Cavaco Silva. During
this period there was also a shift in power, where the
former strong presidential power was weakened in favor of
the parliamentary responsible prime minister, a development
that continued after the turn of the century.
Sampaio was re-elected in 2001 with a turnout of 56
percent. In December of that year, Guterres' government
resigned, following the sharp and unexpected decline of the
Socialist Party in the fall local elections. This trend was
sustained by the election that accelerated in the spring of
2002, when a center / right-wing government was led by the
Conservative Party PSD's Jose Manuel Durão Barroso, who two
years later was named Brussels as president of the European
Commission. The successor, Pedro Santana Lopes, lost the
election in 2005. For the first time, the Socialists gained
a pure majority in the National Assembly, with Jóse Sócrates
as prime minister.
In 2006, Anibal Cavaco Silva became the first president
from the center / right side in Portuguese politics since
the "carnival revolution" in 1974.