The current prime minister and socialist leader in Portugal, António Costa, can be declared the winner of yesterday’s parliamentary elections. This should continue and even strengthen the political stability.
According to the preliminary results, Costa’s Socialists (PS) with 106 seats will be the strongest faction in the Lisbon unicameral parliament (Assembleia da República). Compared to the last election in 2015, the PS also achieved the highest gain with 20 additional seats. Second place went to the strongest opposition, the conservative Social Democrats (PPD/PSD), who were voted out of office in the previous parliamentary elections. With 77 seats in the Assembleia, they had to cope with significant losses. In third and fourth place were Costa’s previous allies, the Left Bloc (B.E.) with 19 seats and the Ecocommunists (PCP-PEV) with 12 seats. Unlike in large parts of Europe, right-wing populists played no role in the elections.
The outcome of the parliamentary elections was not surprising. In the run-up to the elections, the only question was whether Costa would achieve an absolute majority of seats or if he would be dependent on allies. Now it is clear – Costa missed the absolute majority of 116 seats in parliament. It owes its success above all to Portugal’s strong economic recovery. This made it difficult for the opposition to attack Costa credibly. Nonetheless, he continues to depend on allies. The socialist has already announced that he will talk to all parties. Unlike before, he only needs one supporter to unite the absolute majority of votes in parliament behind him – the Left Bloc or eco-communists. We assume that Costa will be able to continue governing with a minority government in Lisbon. It is true that the two potential allies have already filed extensive and costly claims in the run-up to the election. But since Costa only needs one supporter, his negotiating position has improved significantly compared to 2015.