Socialist party polls at 44% after “bringing the economy back from the dead”
The Portuguese Socialist Party (PS) is polling at 44% after it eschewed austerity policies to turn the country’s economy around following the financial crash. With the centre-right Portuguese Social Democratic party (PSD) trailing a long way back on 20%, it now has nearly enough votes to form an outright majority, a rare occurrence under proportional representation.
It is predicted that the Socialists will be comfortably carried into government by the further left parties such as Bloco de Esquerda, Portuguese Communist Party, and the Ecological Party.
The election should act as a glimmer of hope for the European left who are losing ground in many EU nations. Prime Minister António Costa has previously spoken in the EU parliament calling for left-wing parties to “reject austerity to defeat populism”, and it seems that it has certainly worked for him.
Portugal elected a conservative government in 2011, but many believed that they failed to stop the decline of the economy. The government privatised public services, raised VAT, and froze public sector pay.
Education got a 23 per cent spending cut, health and social security went the same way, and the result was 17.5 per cent unemployment in 2013, a 41 per cent jump in company bankruptcies and year after year of net economic decline.
The socialist government gained power in 2015 and enacted a series of reforms that included raising the minimum wage, lifting a freeze on pensions and cancelling pay cuts for civil servants. In a likeness to the UK’s Labour Party they also brought in four bank holidays that had been previously scrapped.
The result so far has been a dramatic resurgence in the economy since the financial crash in 2008.
Unemployment has dropped by nearly 11 per cent from its peak and growth in the economy has returned to healthy levels, leaving the party in a comfortable position for re-election.