The Portuguese case provides a unique opportunity to study the opposition's behaviour in a variety of political conditions. It offers an insight into the impact of the financial crisis on the opposition's behaviour in both majority and minority political settings. It allows the comparison of the opposition's relationship with a minority government, during which non-collaboration could have dramatic consequences, and also with a majority government, when such a choice does not have major political or policy implications. Moreover, it enables us to study the effect of an additional veto player (the so-called troika composed of the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund), which not only constrains both majority and opposition parties, but also gives political entrepreneurs a unique opportunity to push ahead with liberal measures – in this case, clearly in disagreement with the moderate and radical left programmes. Relying on quantitative data on the legislative behaviour of the parliamentary party groups in the period 1995–2012, and on qualitative process-tracking of the opposition's positions on key economic issues – such as the decision to vote against Prime Minister Sócrates' last austerity package after a series of approvals – this article aims to determine whether, and if yes how, the financial crisis has affected the behaviour of the Portuguese opposition parties in parliament, by examining and comparing their behaviour in hard and in normal times.
- economic crisis
- parliamentary opposition