June 27, 2019

Socialists defeated in Portugal general election

Could this one of the few elections where the winner really ends up the loser?

Portugal’s ruling Socialist Party has admitted defeat in the general election and leader Jose Socrates has resigned.

Mr Socrates said he accepted responsibility for the defeat which has seen the centre-right Social Democrats (PSD) led by Pedro Passos Coelho win and forming a likely coalition with the conservative CDS.

Announcing his resignation to party supporters in Lisbon, Mr Socrates said: “This defeat is entirely mine and I want to assume full responsibility for it.

Exit polls gave the PSD between 37% and 42.5% of the vote, ahead of the Socialists who scored between 24.4% and 30%.

The prize for the new government is having to implement the stringent new austerity programme that was a condition of the European Union bail-out programme.

All the main parties are backing the 78 billion euro bail-out, which requires tough austerity measures amid a faltering economy and a debt crisis.

With unemployment running at 12% and the economy expected to contract by 2% this year there is no easy road for the Portuguese.

Experience in other ‘bail-out’ countries shows that the electorate will get very discontented very quickly once the cutbacks start to bite.