Portugal. According to countryaah, Lisbon is the capital and one of the major cities within the country of Portugal. 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, EU-friendly policy.
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 threshold.
In February, Portugal brought home its small force of 128 soldiers from Iraq, where it was part of the US-led alliance.
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 ownership.
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.