Sovereign debt and governance failures: Portuguese democracy and the Financial Crisis

Luís de Sousa, Pedro C. Magalhães, Luciano Amaral

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29 Citations (Scopus)


International economic crises are critical periods for any political regime. The 2008 global financial crisis brought to the surface several weak spots in the institutional performance of various southern European democracies. Portugal was no exception. Government attempts to tackle its negative externalities through a series of austerity measures did not prove successful on various grounds. Poor scoring in the economy generated social unrest. This article tries to assess the reaction of the Portuguese citizenry to the symptoms of failure in economic governance, particularly in what concerns their attitudes vis-à-vis the political realm by using different survey data sets. The analysis reveals that the decline in economic performance and in quality of governance is clearly reflected in citizens’ rising discontent with the performance of democracy and suggests even negative spillover effects for regime support. The available data also suggest that any expectations that the economic crisis might have ignited in citizens’ engagement in political issues seem only partially fulfilled.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1517-1541
Number of pages25
JournalAmerican Behavioral Scientist
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 27 Nov 2014


  • austerity
  • global financial crisis
  • quality of democracy
  • regime support
  • sovereign debt crisis


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