Stress Test: Survival Strategies of Socialist Parties in Spain and Portugal

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


The severe financial and debt crisis that has hit the Eurozone since 2008 has had a destabilising impact on the political systems of Southern Europe. Governments have been ousted from power, critical elections have questioned the bipolar structure of many party systems, and new political actors have challenged the traditional political game. While these events have been addressed in several works, less attention has been devoted to the survival strategies adopted by former incumbent parties turned opposition, such as the socialist PSOE in Spain and PS in Portugal. These parties have been facing multiple challenges. Held responsible for not responding efficaciously to the economic crisis, they lost government control, suffered dramatic decline in public support, struggled to defend their electoral base from new and old competitors, had their leadership called into question and underwent internal power conflicts. The paper focuses on the 'strategies' chosen by the Spanish and Portuguese socialist parties to confront these challenges in three dimensions. First, in the parliamentary arena, how have the PSOE and PS carried out their new opposition role? Given their preceding experience in managing the economic crisis, are they inclined to consensual politics or do they try to exploit the government's weaknesses to get back to power? Second, in the organizational domain, how have they responded to the sharp drop of their leaders' popularity? How have they managed their internal conflicts? And finally, in the electoral sphere, how are the PSOE and PS preparing for the next general elections? Who do they consider as their main competitors, the incumbents or the new challengers?
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages29
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2015
EventUACES 45th Annual Conference - Deusto Law School University of Deusto, Bilbao, Spain
Duration: 7 Sep 20159 Sep 2015
Conference number: 45


ConferenceUACES 45th Annual Conference
Internet address


Cite this

de Giorgi, E., & Bosco, A. (2015). Stress Test: Survival Strategies of Socialist Parties in Spain and Portugal. 1-29. Paper presented at UACES 45th Annual Conference, Bilbao, Spain.