Portugal’s Socialists Beat Ruling Social Democrats in EU Vote

Portugal’s Socialists, the biggest opposition party, beat the ruling Social Democratic Party of Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho in yesterday’s voting for the European Parliament.

The Socialists won 31.46 percent of the vote and seven of Portugal’s 21 European Parliament seats with all but one of the country’s 3,092 voting districts reporting, according to the government’s election website. The Social Democrats won 27.71 percent of the vote and six seats in an alliance with junior coalition party CDS. Four seats are still to be attributed.

The Social Democrats won eight seats and 31.7 percent of the vote in the previous European Parliament elections held in June 2009, while the CDS party got two seats and 8.4 percent of the vote. The Socialists, who were then in government, won 26.5 percent of the vote and seven seats out of a total of 22. Voter turnout at yesterday’s election was 34 percent, compared with 37 percent in 2009.

The vote took place one week after Portugal followed Ireland in exiting its three-year bailout from the European Union and International Monetary Fund without the safety net of a precautionary credit line. While Portugal emerged from its longest recession in at least 25 years in the second quarter of 2013, Coelho still has to cut spending to meet budget targets after relying mostly on tax increases last year.

“The defeat of the alliance was not as big as predicted, and the victory of the Socialist Party was not as wide as was announced,” Coelho said in Lisbon last night. “The government’s mission is to complete this term in the name of the stability the country needs to be well governed.”

Prime Minister Coelho’s term in office ends in 2015, and the coalition government is backed by his Social Democratic Party and the smaller conservative CDS party, which together have a majority of seats in parliament.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.