Sat Sep 26th, 2009 at 09:32:32 AM EST
Someone had to do it, so here is my take on it.
Portugal is going to have elections next Sunday. Then, the incumbent "Partido Socialista" will try to keep its hold on Portuguese government. The last four years they reigned supreme, based on an absolute majority in parliament
The main political spectrum in Portugal is as follows, from right to left (all have seats in the parliament):
- CDS (conservatives, democratic Christians, liberals, and some closet fascists),
- PSD (a center right party with a wide range of inner currents, that can gather votes from CDS or PS depending on the prevailing faction of the day).
- PS (center left party, that shifted right in a very blairite 3rd way "pragmatist" stance, that caused discomfort to many of the more traditional socialists within the party),
- BE, (Left Block) a socialist party somewhat akin to Die Linke in germany, born from the gathering of several small left wing parties.
- PCP (the communist party) a old school communist party, with solid influence on unions. They run together with a nominal Green Party.
The main challenger is the PSD (Social Democratic Party).
Under the leadership o José Sócrates the PS took a very unashamed 3rd way stance, causing a big crisis on the PSD, because they could not claim to be different. In fact, the PS passed a labour law that was more right wing than one proposed by the former PSD-CDS government. In disarray, the PSD turned to Manuela Ferreira Leite, a 70 something former minister of finances and education. They bet on an image of austerity and no frills, contrasting with Socrates who is viewed by many as a construct, all image and no real political substance.
One week from Election Day, I think there is a general feeling that the PSD may be unable to pull it off, with the PS distancing to a technical lead on the polls (although well within the possibility of an upset, since there are still many undecided votes).
The general consensus is that none of the two parties will have enough votes to get an absolute majority, and this is where things get interesting.
Front-paged by afew / bumped - nanne
Many things can happen in this scenario.
Portuguese parties are not used to rule in true democracy, and so they only feel comfortable when an absolute majority is guaranteed. In order to achieve this in the absence of a landslide victory, they have to gather consensus with other parties, either by forming a joint government or by some sort of parliamentary agreement (a much more fragile solution).
The PSD has no trouble at all getting in bed with the CDS, they have done it before, and will do it when ever it suits them. The same thing does not happen on the left.
The PS under the leadership of Socrates distanced itself from the left, making it very hard if not impossible to have compromises from the likes of BE and PCP.
They have stated that with Socrates an alliance is impossible. There are elements on the PS, namely on their historical leaders side, that would favor such an alliance, having themselves been critical os Socrates in the past. But now with elections coming closer, they are closing ranks and try to sell the left the idea that somehow the international crises changed Socrates heart (yeah, right).
There is another solution for stable government. In the scenario where neither the PS or PSD with their natural or unnatural allies can make a stable government, the two parties might find a way to get together and do it themselves. This might be possible if the defeated leader resigned, and someone capable of dialogue with the other side took his/her place.
This is probably more likely in case of a PSD victory, since a defeat from Socrates would probably embolden the left wing of the Socialist Party into taking over and preferring to prepare a longer term strategy for the left. This may be wishful thinking of mine, too.
I gave you no percentages of the parties involved, so far. The latest polls go like this:
PS -- 38%
PSD -- 32%
BE -- 12%
CDU [PCP+PEV] -- 7%
CDS-PP -- 7%
The media now seems to target the BE as the "big danger" of "radical left" taking over. The (slight) advantage of the PS may mean there will be less "useful" votes going to the PS from left wing voters, determined to keep the PSD and CDS off the government. Also may mean a desperate attempt from CDS voters to give the victory to PSD, emptying their parliamentary presence. Undecided votes are still plenty, it is believed.
New polls should be available by the end of the week, and I'll try to update accordingly. BTW, most polls were famously wrong during last European elections so this may all turn out to be something completely different.