Socialist Party (Portugal)

The Socialist Party (Portuguese: Partido Socialista, pronounced [pɐɾˈtiðu susiɐˈliʃtɐ], PS) is a social-democratic[4][5] political party in Portugal. It was founded on 19 April 1973 in the German city of Bad Münstereifel by militants from the Portuguese Socialist Action (Portuguese: Acção Socialista Portuguesa). The PS is a member of the Socialist International, Progressive Alliance and Party of European Socialists, and has nine members in the European Parliament within the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats group during the 9th European Parliament.

A party of the centre-left,[6][7] the PS is one of the two major parties in Portuguese politics, its rival being the Social Democratic Party (PSD) on the centre-right. The leader of the PS is António Costa, the current Prime Minister of Portugal. The party has 108 of 230 seats in the Portuguese parliament following the October 2019 election, forming a minority government.

Inspired by May 68,[8] the Socialist Party (PS) was created at a conference of Portuguese Socialist Action (ASP), at that time in exile, on 19 April 1973, in Bad Münstereifel in West Germany. The twenty-seven delegates decided to found a party of socialism and political freedom, making an explicit reference to a classless society and with Marxism as a source of principal inspiration.

On 25 April 1974, the Carnation Revolution brought down the authoritarian regime of the Estado Novo, established in 1933, and democracy was restored. Mário Soares, the party's General-Secretary, returned to Portugal after being in exile in France, and became Minister of Foreign Affairs, and António de Almeida Santos was appointed Minister of Interjurisdictional Coordination in one of the first provisional governments. After the revolution, elections were called for 25 April 1975 and the PS won the 1975 election for the Constituent Assembly and the 1976 elections for the National Assembly, then losing to the Democratic Alliance (AD) in the 1979 legislative election. In 1980, the PS made an electoral alliance, called the Republican and Socialist Front (FRS), between the Independent Social Democrats (ASDI), led by Sousa Franco, and the Leftwing Union for the Socialist Democracy (UEDS), led by Lopes Cardoso. The alliance failed to defeat the AD.

They won the 1983 general election but without an absolute majority, and the PS formed a grand coalition with the centre-right Social Democratic Party (PSD), creating a Central Block. The new government began negotiations for Portugal to enter the European Economic Community (EEC). In 1985, the Central Block broke down and the PS, at the time led by Almeida Santos, lost the 1985 legislative election. Cavaco Silva's PSD won the 1985 elections, and again in 1987 and 1991 with an absolute majority. The PS was in opposition for more than ten years.

In the 1995 legislative election, the PS, then led by António Guterres, won a general election for the first time in twelve years, and in the 1999 election failed to obtain what would have been a historic absolute majority for the party by only one MP. In 2001, after a massive defeat in the 2001 local elections, Guterres resigned as Prime Minister and called for new elections in 2002. The Socialist Party lost the 2002 general election by a small margin to the PSD, who formed a coalition government with the People's Party (CDS–PP). During this time, it has been argued that the Socialist Party moved towards the centre and adopted the Third Way.[9][10]

In June 2004, the PS won the 2004 European elections by a landslide, and a few weeks later, Durão Barroso, leader of the PSD and Prime Minister, resigned to become President of the European Commission. In December 2004, Jorge Sampaio, President of the Republic, called fresh elections for February 2005. These elections resulted in a landslide victory for the PS, winning for the first time since its foundation an absolute majority. José Sócrates, leader of the PS, became Prime Minister of Portugal.

In 2009, after four-and-a-half years in power, the PS lost the 2009 European Parliament elections to the PSD. However, they won the general election held on 27 September 2009 but failed to renew the absolute majority they won in the previous general election. The PS later introduced and legislated same-sex marriage. The Eurozone crisis and financial crisis of 2011 hit Portugal very hard, prompting Sócrates' government to impose harsh austerity measures. On 23 March 2011, the entire opposition in Parliament said no to new measures proposed by the government. As a result of this, Sócrates resigned as Prime Minister and a snap election took place on 5 June 2011. In the elections, the PS suffered a huge setback, with 28.1% of the vote, ten points behind the PSD, who formed another coalition government with the CDS–PP. Sócrates resigned as General-Secretary on election night after the PS's worst result since 1987. On 23 July 2011, António José Seguro was elected as Sócrates' successor.

Under the leadership of Seguro, the PS won the 2013 local elections making significant gains over the PSD and the Socialists again won the European elections in May 2014 but this time only just. They won 31.5% of the vote against the almost 28% of the alliance between the PSD and CDS–PP. The result was considered quite a disappointment to many PS members and supporters and on 27 May António Costa, the then-mayor of Lisbon announced that he would stand for the leadership of the PS.[11] Seguro refused to call a new congress and leadership election and instead called for a primary election, to be held on 28 September, to elect the party's candidate for Prime Minister in the 2015 general elections.[12] Costa, being endorsed by the left faction of the party and people like Mário Soares, Ana Catarina Mendes and Pedro Nuno Santos, easily defeated Seguro, who was supported by the more moderate and centrist wing of the party, by a 67% to 31% margin.

In the 2015 legislative elections, the PS polled a disappointing second place, capturing just 32% of the votes against the 38.6% of the PSD/CDS–PP electoral alliance Portugal Ahead. Despite the victory of the PSD/CDS-PP coalition, the centre-left and left-wing parties achieved a clear majority in the Portuguese parliament. After the second Passos Coelho cabinet fell in parliament, with the approval of a no-confidence motion, the PS forged a confidence and supply agreement with Left Bloc and Unitary Democratic Coalition to support a PS minority government. For the first time in Portuguese democracy, the leader of the second most voted political force became Prime Minister.

Costa led a very successful first term as Prime Minister with a growing economy, low unemployment and deficit cuts. Although he led a more left-leaning PS, Costa started to shift the party back to the centre in 2018, something that a younger and more left-wing faction, led by minister Pedro Nuno Santos, contested.[13] In the 2019 European elections, the PS won a landslide by achieving 33.4%, against the 22% of the PSD. The PS also won the October 2019 general election with 36% of the votes, against the 28% of the PSD, but by a closer margin than expected. The Second Costa cabinet was sworn in on 26 October 2019.

In October 2020, the PS lost power in the Azores region after the Socialist lost their majority in the region's 2020 October elections. The PS only got 39% of the votes, a drop of 7 pp, and 25 seats.[14] The rightwing parties, PSD, CDS, PPM, CHEGA and IL won a majority of one seat over the whole leftwing, and a few weeks after the election, they forged a deal that led the PSD to government.[15] As of 2021, the PS is now opposition in the only two autonomous regions of the country.

For the 2021 Portuguese presidential election, Costa endorsed the incumbent Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, something that made some party members unsatisfied. Former PS MEP Ana Gomes a critic of Costa and a member of the left faction of the party, ran for the presidency, declaring herself the candidate of democratic socialism and progressivism, stating that she has been disappointed with the leadership of the party for not having an official candidate.[16][17] With the support of the left faction of the party and some more moderate members worried about corruption, Gomes finished in a disappointing second place behind de Sousa, who had many endorsements of party leaders like Lisbon's Mayor Fernando Medina, Eduardo Ferro Rodrigues and Carlos César.

The PS is a mainstream centre-left social democratic party with democratic socialist and liberal socialist factions. It supports Keynesian economics, pro-Europeanism, and progressivism. Like many mainstream social democratic parties, it has previously adopted a Third Way outlook.[9]

Mário Soares, founder, Prime Minister (1976–1978, 1983–1985), and President (1986–1996)
José Sócrates, the party's Secretary-General (2004–2011) and Prime Minister (2005–2011)