Political Parties in Portugal

Written By Lara Silva

Since April 25, 1974, democracy has been instilled in Portugal, a year after the Carnation Revolution that ended the authoritarian regime. The Constitutional Assembly divided state power into three main branches: legislative, executive, and judicial.

Under the legislative branch, stand political parties and their elected member of parliaments in the Assembly of the Republic.

The Assembly of the Republic, the Portuguese Parliament, is made up of 230 deputies, elected for four years in 22 election circles.

Each of the election circles represents the 18 districts in mainland Portugal, the two Autonomous Regions of Portugal (Madeira and the Azores), one for Portuguese citizens living outside of Europe, and one for Portuguese citizens living in Europe.

Those in the assembly are responsible for supporting or opposing the government, approving programs, laws, and the state budget. 

In the 2022 general election, the XXII Portuguese government was voted with the Socialist Party (PS) winning a majority government. This meant that Antonio Costa remains as Prime Minister. Let’s take a look at the current makeup of the Portuguese Assembly of the Republic and the political parties in Portugal. 

Political Parties in Portugal: The Assembly of the Republic

1. Socialist Party (PS) 120 Seats – Majority Government

Led by Antonio Costa, the Prime Minister of Portugal, the Socialist Party (PS) is a center-left party that won a majority in the last general election. The Socialist Party seeks to strengthen the national health service, tackle climate change, and reduce poverty rates in Portugal. With pro-European and progressive ideologies, the party’s State Budget includes raising the minimum wage to €750 by 2023, making income tax more progressive, and free daycares. 

The Socialist Party was formed in 1973, a year before the Carnation Revolution that freed Portugal of a fascist dictatorship. PS has been in government nine times since democracy was instilled in Portugal. Twice as a majority government (including the current government), once in a grand coalition with the Social Democratic Party (PSD), and six times as a minority government. 

The current Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres was once the leader of the Socialist Party in Portugal.

2. Social Democratic Party (PSD) – 77 Seats

The Social Democratic Party (PSD) is a center-right party with both conservative and liberal economic ideologies, despite its name. It is the second-largest party after PS. PSD has supported tax cuts and economic liberalization. The party stands for Christian social values, voting against gay marriage in 2010 and gay adoption in 2015, for example.

In the last general election, the Social Democratic Party (PSD) lost one seat which was unexpected to many. The polls stated that PSD and PS were incredibly close and there was a chance PS would not obtain a majority.

PSD was formed in 1974 by Francisco Sa Carneiro and others under the name of the Popular Democratic Party (PPD). It was legalized in 1975 and changed to PSD in 1976. The Social Democratic Party has formed nine governments since 1975, including four majority governments. The party was last in power in 2015.

PSD’s leadership has recently changed. Since 2017, Rui Rio had been the Secretary-General of PSD, but after the loss in the general election of 2022, he announced his leave. On May 28, 2022, Luis Montenegro won a historic victory for the leadership of PSD with over 70% of the votes. He will be the new leader of PSD in July. 

3. ENOUGH (CH) – 12 Seats

The third-largest party in the Portuguese parliament with 12 seats, Enough (CH) was founded in 2019 by the leader Andre Ventura. Known as Chega in Portuguese, the party is a populist radical right party known for extreme right-wing views and economically liberal ideologies.

CH campaigns for life imprisonment, the chemical castration of child abusers, and privatization of national services like health and education. The party has been accused of racism, misogyny, and homophobia. The party believes in the conspiracy theory of “cultural marxism”, stating that the “radical left” is promoting “gender ideology” in public schools, attacking the “traditional family”, and promoting abortion to destroy Portuguese identity. 

Chega was created through smaller groups from the Social Democratic Party (PSD), the party where Andre Ventura started his political career. While most extreme-right parties in Portugal have been unsuccessful post-dictatorship, Andre Ventura gained media attention with his racism towards the Roma community. The party has international connections to extreme-right association Identity and Democracy (IC), Matteo Salvini, Marine Le Pen, and more. 

4. Liberal Initiative (IL) – 8 Seats

The Liberal Initiative (IL) was founded in 2017 and is the first liberal party in Portugal. Led by João Cotrim Figueiredo, increase its seats from 1 in 2019 to 8 and becomes the fourth-largest party in Portugal. IL campaigns for right-wing economics such as reducing taxes and promoting a flat income tax for all, as well as less “dependence” on social welfare. The party believes in individual freedom, low taxes, and the free market.

The party believes the state “discriminates” against the private sector by not providing enough funding to private schools and hospitals. For example, when the PS’s proposal for free period products in public schools was passed in March 2022, a member of the IL said that this measure creates an “apartheid” within the public sector, discriminating against students in private schools.

The party is unlike other right-wing parties as they are in favor of euthanasia, abortion, and gay rights. They are therefore fiscally liberal but have more progressive stances on social issues than other center-right and right-wing parties. However, the party claims to reject the left-right political spectrum.

5. Left Bloc (BE) – 5 Seats

Led by Catarina Martins, the Left Bloc is a feminist, ecosocialist, and anti-racist party that from 2019 until 2022 functioned as an opposition force. BE wants to allow immigrants and residents in Portugal to vote in parliamentary elections, reduce transport prices, as well as fight job insecurity and raise the minimum wage. The party has been seen as more socially libertarian than the Portuguese Communist Party (PCP), but more leftist than the Socialist Party (PCP).

In the last general election, the Left Bloco (BE) suffered a major loss, losing 14 seats. Many believe leftist voters were punishing BE for voting against the state budget. 

The Left Bloc was formed in 1991 from a merger of left-wing parties and movements: the Marxist People’s Democratic Union, Trotskyist Revolutionary Socialist Party, and the democratic socialist Politics XXI. 

6. The Portuguese Communist Party (PCP) – 6 Seats

The Portuguese Communist Party (PCP) is one of the strongest Communist parties in Western Europe but at the time, only has 6 seats. The party follows a Marxist-Leninist, communist, and anti-fascist ideology, as well as patriotic. In the last general election, PCP campaigned to invest in the national health service by increasing the number of medical professionals. The Portuguese Communist Party also wants to reduce the working week from 40 to 35 hours, free education, and free public transport.

The Portuguese Communist Party has existed for over 100 years. It was founded in 1921 as the Portuguese section of the Communist International (Comintern). The party was made illegal in the late 1920s and later on played a major role in opposing the fascist regime of Salazar.

7. People Animals Nature (PAN) – 1 Seat

People Animals Nature (PAN) was founded in 2009, a Portuguese Green Party that is known for advocating for climate justice and animal rights. The party holds ecofeminist, animalist, and progressive ideologies. In the last general election, PAN campaigned to invest in the national health service but does believe that the private and public sectors can work together. PAN also believes in free transportation to combat climate change. The party doesn’t have an individual leader, preferring the model of collective leadership.

In 2019, PAN had 4 seats but in the last election, lost most of its members of parliament and now only holds one. 

8. FREE (LIVRE) – 1 Seat

The party FREE was founded by Rui Tavares in 2014, and similarly to PAN, follows a model of collective leadership. FREE’s ideology is ecosocialist, pro-European, feminist, anti-racist, and progressive. The party became known for supporting a trial of the Universal Basic Income, where every citizen would receive a sum of money to eradicate poverty. The party’s program also included increasing the minimum wage to €1,000, legalizing cannabis, investing in public health, and starting a Portuguese Green New Deal.

The party won one seat in 2019 and still holds one seat, won in the last election by Rui Tavares. 

Socialist-Majority Government in Portugal

The Socialist Party (PS) established a majority government back in March of 2022, with a majority-female cabinet. Here are the cabinet members of the Socialist Party government.

Meet the new faces of Antonio Costa’s Portuguese government.

  • Francisco Medina is the Finance Minister. He is a former Lisbon mayor and is replacing João Leão.
  • Catarina Sarmento e Castro is the Minister of Justice, an ex-judge of the Constitutional Court.
  • Ana Catarina Mendes is the Deputy and Parliamentary Affairs minister, after leaving her role as the president of the parliamentary group for PS.
  • António Costa e Silva is the Minister of the Economy and the Ocean. He took over the Minister of the Ocean, Ricardo Santos, and the minister of the Economy, Pedro Siza Vieira.
  • Elvira Fortunado is the Minister of Science. She is a scientist, professor, and vice-director of Nova University.
  • Pedro Adão e Silva is the Minister of Culture, a sociologist, and a professor of Political Science.
  • José Luís Carneiro is the Minister of Internal Administration. He has been the deputy of the Assembly of the Portuguese Republic since 2015.
  • Helena Carreiras is the Minister of Defence, having taken over the role of João Gomes Cravinho. She is a specialist in military sociology and is a professor at ISCTE, as well as the head of the National Defence Institute.
  • Duarte Cordeiro is the Minister of the Environment and Climate Action, taking the spot of João Pedro Matos Fernandes. Cordeiro was the vice-president of the City Council of Lisbon from 2015 to 2019.
  • João Gomes Cravinho is the Minister of Foreign Affairs. He served as Minister of National Defence since 2018.
  • João Costa is the new Minister of Education. He was a Secretary of State and was a faculty at Nova University.
  • Mariana Vieira da Silva remains as Minister of the Presidency and is now the “number 2” of Prime Minister Antonio Costa.
  • Marta Temido remains the Minister of Health, a role she took on in 2018. She is a specialist in hospital administration.
  • Pedro Nuno Santos is the Minister of Infrastructures and Housing. He has a degree in economics from ISEG-UTL.
  • Ana Mendes Godinho is the Minister of Labor, Solidarity, and Social Security. She had previously worked as the Secretary of State for Tourism until 2019.
  • Ana Abrunhosa is the Minister of Territorial Cohesion having done so since 2019. She has a doctorate in economics from the University of Coimbra.
  • Maria do Céu Antunes is the Minister of Agriculture which now also includes the ministry of food.

Take a look at our article on the Portuguese Political System to find out about the democratic process in Portugal. 

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