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Compared with other socialist parties in Western Europe, the trajectory of the Portuguese Socialist Party (Partido Socialista Português - PS) has been relatively successful during recent decades. From 1995 to 2011, the PS was in government for 13 out of 16 years with a single-party majority or minority cabinets. This protracted period of dominance was the consequence not only of the decline of the Portuguese Communist Party (PCP), but also of the ability of the socialist leadership to gain the center of the political spectrum and to build a heterogeneous majority based on middle-class support. Nevertheless, 2011 was an ‘annus horribilis’ for the socialists. First, a center-right candidate won the presidency for the first time in Portugal’s democratic history1. Second, the legislative elections held in June 2011 marked the return of PS to opposition. Consequently, the right was able to control both the presidency and the parliamentary majority, something that had never happened in the Portuguese democracy. A crucial factor in the socialist government’s punishment was certainly the disastrous economic performance, especially since 2008, culminating in Prime Minister José Sócrates requesting a bailout in March 2011. However, some structural weaknesses of the party must also be considered in order to explain the electoral debacle.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Palgrave Handbook of Social Democracy in the European Union
EditorsJean-Michel De Waele, Fabien Escalona, Mathieu Vieira
Place of PublicationLondres
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages22
ISBN (Electronic)9781137293800
ISBN (Print)9781137293794
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2016


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