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Socialists win in Portugal in rebuke to far-right populism

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Socialist Prime Minister Antonio Costa (C) arrives at a party gathering in Lisbon as exit polls show the Socialists have taken the lead in Sunday's election. (AFP / PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA)

Socialists emerged victorious from Sunday’s elections in Portugal in another sign that right-wing populism in Europe may be losing steam.

The Socialist Party, to which Prime Minister António Costa belongs, still fell short of winning an absolute majority.

Politico reported:

The Socialists won 36.6 percent of the vote with over 99 percent of stations reporting, followed by the center-right Social Democratic Party (PSD) on 27.9 percent, its worst result since 1983.

With the smaller conservative CDS-People’s Party (CDS-PP) getting just 4.2 percent, the night was a serious reversal for Portugal’s mainstream right.

On the left, the old-school Portuguese Communist Party (PCP) saw its support drop to a historic low of 6.5 percent and the Left Bloc, a media-savvy, urban-based party, confirmed its position as Portugal’s third party, falling slightly to 9.7 percent.

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The Iberian nation, noted Deutsche Welle, is “one of the few European countries where right-wing populists remain insignificant.”

Voting information outlet Europe Elects broke down the figures:

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The results mean that Costa now “needs to negotiate a new deal with one or both of his far-left allies in the previous legislature,” as Reuters noted.

Guardian columnist Owen Jones, in a tweet, suggested that voters were likely happy with the leftward shift the Social Party made in that previous legislature:

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https://twitter.com/OwenJones84/status/1180942323305369601

Ricardo Ferreira Reis, polling center director at Lisbon’s Católica University, made a similar observation. “This result,” he told RTP television, “can be seen as a vote for a government led by the Socialist Party with parliamentary support or in coalition with other forces on the left.”

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European Council president Donald Tusk congratulated Costa on the win, saying his “electoral success comes at a challenging time for Europe and the world.”

“European unity is more needed now than ever,” Tusk continued, “and I trust that your government will continue playing a constructive role in the most relevant themes such as the climate emergency, trade conflicts, our multi-year budget, migration, the completion of the Economic and Monetary Union as well as Brexit.”


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