Portugal went to early elections in a quiet atmosphre on January 30. The Socialist Party which has been ruling the country with a minority government for the last 6 years managed to secure the neccesary majority to form a government on her own.
Portugal is a small country in the West of Europe with a population of nearly 10 million. The very West end of European continent, Cabo da Roco lies within the boundaries of Portugal. Although Portugal is known as a mediterrenean country, she does not have coastal line in the mediterenean sea. But Portuguese people share the same characteristics of mediterrenean culture like to be warm blooded, passion to entertainment, and fondness always to be comfortable.
After 50 years of dictatorship of Salazar, Portugal is governed by uninterrupted democracy since the carnation revolution in 1974. Adding adjectives to revolutions like orange revolution, velvet revolution started by carnation revolution in Portugal. The name carnation arises from the fact that the soldiers decorated their guns and battle tanks by carnation flowers and no blood was shed during the revolution.
The big gamble of Prime Minister Antonio Costa
The President is elected by a popular vote every 5 years. The Parliament consists of only one chamber and has 230 members. At present 9 political parties are represented in the parliament. Interestingly the names of the parties do not necessarily reflect their ideologies. Socialist Party is in fact social democrat. The social democrat party is stationed at the center-right. The conservative Populist Party is a typical example of christian democrats in Europe. Communists, left bloc and greens are in the left while the two new parties Chega and liberal initiative are in the right.
In view of the unsurmountable differences of opinion on the budget with the communists and the left bloc which have been supporting the minority government of the Socialist Party last October, Prime Minister Antonio Costa made a couregous move by asking for early elections. Furthermore, he promised to quit from politics in case he would loose the elections at a time when all the polls indicated that his party was going to loose votes. However at the end of the day Costa won a glorious victory. The socialist votes arose to 41 percent from 36 percent and its member of parliments to 117 from 108 in comparision to 3 years ago. The main opposition party social democrats maintained its votes.The biggest surprise came from the extreme right Chega party under the leadership of Ventura. Chega succeeded to bring 12 members to parliament by securing %7.6 of the total votes. The speed in the rise of an extreme right party where for centuries Portuguese people lived together with foreigners from colonial territories is astonishing
Absolute majority does not necessarily mean absolute power
Antonio Luis Santos Da Costa comes from an Indian family living in Mozambique. Before his election to the parliament, he served as mayor of Lisbon for two terms. He has an extremely concilitary character. He governed Portugal, a country which has been facing once again economic decline with a minority government for the last six years. He has worked in harmony with a president coming from the main opposition party fort two consecutive terms. Marcello de Souza, the president of Portugal is a populist politician. He is an absolute mediacolic since he has a TV background. He does not live in the official presendential palace. He is famous for swimming the whole year at the public beach in Sintra, a tourictic quartier of Lisbon. He is always among the people and adored by the people. It is not easy for a prime minister to work with such a popular president.
What Prime Minister Costa said, after winning the election, became topical as much as his election success. In his first statement after his party secured majority in the parliment fort he second time in its history, he said, ”Absolute majority does not mean absolute power; It is not about ruling alone either.”
Portuguese elecitons is testimony to the fact that it is possible to win elections without polarizing the nation. The real democracy must be something like this.