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Title: The Portuguese national election of 2015: from austerity to the fall of the Portuguese ‘Berlin Wall’
Authors: Freire, A.
Santana-Pereira, J.
Issue Date: 2016
Publisher: ARPoS
Abstract: The Portuguese legislative election of October 4th 2015 is particularly relevant to students of European politics, mainly for two fundamental motives. To start, it is the first national election since 2011 and, thus, like the Spanish and Irish elections of December 2015 and February 2016, the first after the end of the adjustment programme and several years of bailout-related austerity policies stemming from the Great Recession (2007-2008) and the sovereign debt crisis that followed. It provides a fundamental test about how voters judged this harsh exercise of austerity, who they blamed and what vehicles of change they supported. In the Greek case, national elections after years of bailout-related austerity already took place four times (in 2012 and 2015, twice each year) and led to extreme changes in the Greek party system (Tsatsanis 2016). A similar trend, although less pronounced, is observed in the 2015 Spanish election results (Medina 2016). Second, although the Portuguese election does not show much innovation in terms of changes in the party system, it is characterized by novelty in terms of partisan cooperation: for the first time in 40 years, the centre-left Socialist Party (PS) and the radical left parties (BE, Left Bloc; PCP, Portuguese Communist Party; PEV, Green Party) reached an agreement aimed at the formation of a PS minority government without the presence or support of the right-wing incumbents. Therefore, although no new strong parliamentary parties emerged in October 2015, this election led to a shift in the traditional patterns of government formation and alternation. Moreover, for the first time since 1974, the most voted list (the right-wing coalition PàF: PSD, Social Democratic Party and CDS-PP, Popular Party) is not in government. This article aims to give a general overview of the 2015 national election in Portugal. Following a description of the context in which this election took place, we undertake an analysis of the electoral campaign. Then, we analyse the electoral results and account for major shifts in electoral volatility, disproportionality and party system fragmentation. In the fourth section, we describe the process of government formation. The article ends with a few concluding notes on the nature of this election and its aftermath.
Peer reviewed: yes
ISSN: 1262-1676
Appears in Collections:CIES-RI - Artigos em revista científica internacional com arbitragem científica

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