Portugal: Divided Left Wins 50% of Vote, but Right Retains Power.
Portugal’s governing centre-right coalition has won the country’s general election, which was widely seen as a referendum on four years of austerity.
Socialist leader Antonio Costa admitted defeat and congratulated Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho.
With almost all votes counted, the centre-right leads with just under 37%, with the Socialists on over 32%.
However, Mr Passos Coelho said his coalition appeared to have lost its absolute majority in parliament.
With 99 seats in the 230-seat parliament, the ruling coalition fell 17 seats short of the number it needed.
Mr Passos Coelho indicated that he was ready to talk to other parties in the next parliament to pursue the “necessary reforms” he wants to implement.
“Times haven’t been easy, and the times ahead will be challenging,” he said, promising to talk to the Socialists with the aim of maintaining a rigorous budget and a reduction in the public debt.
Parties to the left of the Socialists achieved their best-ever result, says the BBC’s Alison Roberts in Lisbon.
Left Bloc won 10% of the vote, securing 19 seats, while the Communists took 8% of the vote.
|Portugal Ahead (PSD / CDS–PP)[j]||1,979,132||36.83||11.0||124||99||25||43.81||11.1||1.19|
|Democratic Unity Coalition (Communists and Greens)||444,319||8.27||0.4||16||17||1||7.52||0.4||0.91|
|Workers’ Communist Party||59,812||1.11||0.1||0||0||0||0.00||0.0||0.0|
|FREE/Time to move Foward||38,958||0.72||N/A||N/A||0||N/A||0.00||N/A||0.0|
|National Renovator Party||27,104||0.50||0.2||0||0||0||0.00||0.0||0.0|
|Labour / Socialist Alternative ACT!||20,690||0.38||N/A||N/A||0||N/A||0.00||N/A||0.0|
|We, the Citizens!||18,695||0.35||N/A||N/A||0||N/A||0.00||N/A||0.0|
|Together for the People||14,196||0.26||N/A||N/A||0||N/A||0.00||N/A||0.0|
|United Party of Retirees and Pensioners||13,739||0.26||N/A||N/A||0||N/A||0.00||N/A||0.0|
|People’s / People’s Monarchist[m]||3,654||0.07||N/A||0||0||0||0.00||0.0||0.0|
|Christian Democratic and Citizenship||2,658||0.05||0.1||0||0||0||0.00||0.0||0.0|
The Bloco de Esquerda (Left bloc) made a breakthrough. It got 5,2% in the last election. Now it has 10.22%. It’s worth noting that some opinion polls had given them around 5%.
We are Europeans, but not Eurocentric: we want for Europe the same that we wish for the planet. We are Europeans, but not Eurocrats: we believe in democracy. We reject the standardization and lack of respect for the diversity that makes Europe. We are Left. Our opponents are not immigrants, minorities, poor, gays or unemployed, but those who promote austerity. We believe in solidarity, in facing the crisis together, in a Europe that restores hope.
“The Left Bloc (B.E.) was formed in March 1999 by the merger of the People’s Democratic Union (União Democrática Popular, UDP, communist), Revolutionary Socialist Party (Partido Socialista Revolucionário, PSR [ex-LCI], Trotskyist), and Politics XXI (Política XXI, PXXI, socialist). B.E. has had full party status since its founding, yet the constituent groups have maintained their existence as individual political associations, and retain some levels of autonomy, leading to a loose structure.” (Wikipedia)
I would correct Wikipedia on the details of this: the União Democrática Popular (UDP) are former marxist-leninists- that is, Maoists.
The Bloc had a very sharp internal debate last year:
After its ninth national convention, held in Lisbon on November 22-23, 2014, it really looked as if Portugal’s Left Bloc were in serious trouble—split right down the middle. And split not over insuperable differences of political perspective but over its leadership model and who, as national coordinator, should be its public face.
This was the first time in its 15-year existence that a Left Bloc convention had not produced a solid majority (usually around 80%). But this time Motion U (called “Unitary Motion under Construction—For a Citizen Revolt Against Austerity”, with outgoing co-coordinators Catarina Martins and João Semedo as lead signatories) was being challenged by Motion E. This motion was called “A Plural Bloc, Force for Turnaround” and was supported by the Bloc’s national parliamentary caucus leader Pedro Filipe Soares and founding member and MP Luis Fazenda.
Motion E put up Soares to replace Semedo and Martins as the Bloc’s national coordinator.
In the vote for the 80-seat National Board, the Bloc’s leadership body between conventions, Motions U and E both won 259 votes. As a result both obtained 34 seats, with the remaining positions being shared between two of the three other motions that had been submitted to the convention. These were Motion B (51 votes, 7 seats) and Motion R (32 votes and 4 seats).
In the vote on the motions themselves, Motion U won by a hair’s breadth from Motion E, by 266 votes to 258. Motions A (“A Left Response—For a Bloc that attends to the needs of people now!”), B (“Re-found the Bloc in the fight against austerity”) and R (“Reinvent the Bloc”) won 7, 34 and 30 votes respectively.
This overall result, due to some delegates switching from Motion B to Motion U for vote on the political line, raised the possibility that the incoming National Board, which elects the Left Bloc’s Political Committee and National Coordinator(s), would be deadlocked. The headlines read “Bloc ends convention without leaders” and “Left Bloc: leadership coming soon”.
Nonetheless, at the first meeting of the National Board, on November 30, a compromise was reached that won 90% backing and which no-one opposed: the 16-person Political Committee would reflect the proportions of support received at the convention (as required by a change to the statutes) and there would be a six-person Standing Committee (also with proportional representation) and a single national coordinator instead of the gender-balanced two-person coordination formula adopted at the previous National Convention (2012).
Portugal. Le Bloc de Gauche à la croisée des chemins gives more details on the stakes in the disputes.
As a result of these difficulties, which have continued this year, these elections were crucial for the Bloco’s future,
They finally adopted a detailed anti-austerity programme in July.
Despite the name they are not an alliance of separate parties but a party with different internal tendencies. There is individual membership. Unlike Podemos, to which they are often compared the Bloco has no single ‘charismatic’ leader, no internal structure biased towards the ruling group, and certainly has no ambition to be “beyond left and right”.
Their position on Europe is “la défense d’un européisme de gauche” – defending a left-wing Europeanism. That said, their main difference with the Socialist party is over the debt. The Bloco wants a renegotiation. If that fails they claim they are prepared to leave the Euro – a scenario whose probability has decreased it has to be said, after the failure of those in Syriza supporting such a perspective.
Another difference with, for example, the French Front de Gauche, is that the Portuguese Communist Party (Partido Comunista Português) is not part of the Bloco. They have their own alliance, the Coligação Democrática Unitária (Democratic Unity Coalition – see results above), with the Portuguese Green Party (Os Verdes) and the satellite left party, Intervenção Democrática. Their results improved by 0,4%.
Leaders of the Bloco note a continued sectarian – that is Stalinist – culture in the Communist Party. According to a leading Bloco member, Fernando Rosas, (Wikipedia – in English) the main problem with them is that try to control every political initiative they are associated with.
On their views see the important interview with Fernando Rosas : « La gauche radicale portugaise est l’une des plus fortes en Europe » Dirigeant national du Bloc de gauche, Fernando Rosas analyse la situation politique du Portugal et expose les positions de son parti sur les alliances électorales, la lutte contre l’austérité et la sortie de l’euro. (30th July).
The loss of the rightwing majority and the rise of the Left Bloc Monday 5 October 2015, by
The Portuguese right wing coalition has lost its absolute majority in parliament, but remains the main political force in Sunday’s election. The Left Bloc made a spectacular comeback with the best result ever, almost doubling its voters and more than doubling the number of elected MPs.
This result was built mostly on the performance of the new Left Bloc leadership after the November 2014 national convention of the party. The spokeswoman Catarina Martins had a widely-applauded victory in every face-to-face tv debate with the prime-minister, the vice-prime-minister and the SP leader and gathered the biggest popular support on street campaign in all Left Bloc’s history. The electoral result confirmed this warm reception on the streets in every corner of the country for the last two months. And the two parties that were formed by dissidents of the Bloc with widespread media coverage (Livre and Agir) were now doomed to political irrelevance, obtaining 0.72% and 0.38% respectively. The only small party to enter the Parliament is PAN, which has an animal rights agenda and it is ready to support any government.