The Socialist Party of Prime Minister José Sócrates came in first despite losing 9% of the vote and 24 seats.
In these elections there were approximately 9.5 million Portuguese at home and abroad called to determine the 230 seats in the Assembleia da República and 18th constitutional government in Portugal after 1976. The Socialists won the election with a clear lead over the conservative Social Democrats, with big gains for the People's Party and for the Left Bloc.
The election took place during the regular end of the previous four-year legislative period. From 2005 to 2009 ruled by the Socialist Party (PS), led by José Sócrates, with an absolute majority. The opinion polls at the beginning of the official election campaign on 12 September 2009, showed a too close to call race between the Socialists and the conservative Social Democrats, but just days before the election the Socialists increased their lead over the Social Democrats. A total of 13 parties and two coalitions competed in this election.
Focus of the campaign were the impact of global economic and financial crisis and the construction of new infrastructure projects, including the high-speed rail link Lisbon-Madrid and Lisbon-Porto-Vigo and the new Lisbon airport.
Neither of the two major parties won an absolute majority in the Assembly of the Republic, so, the future prime minister must form a coalition, or at least rely on other parties to govern. In this case, José Sócrates is in a better position than Manuela Ferreira Leite, since the Portuguese left won by 54.23% of the vote and 128 seats, against 39.54% and 102 deputies to the right.
On 12 October, José Sócrates was invited by PresidentAníbal Cavaco Silva to form government. The new cabinet was announced on 22 October and sworn in on 26 October.
Voter turnout was one of the lowest in Portuguese election history, as 59.7% of the electorate cast a ballot.
The Parliament of the Portuguese Republic consists of a single chamber, the Assembly of the Republic, composed of 230 members directly elected by universal adult suffrage for a maximum term of four years. Assembly members represent the entire country, rather than the constituencies in which they were elected. Governments require majority support in the Assembly in order to remain in office.
Each one of Portugal's eighteen administrative districts, as well as each one of the country's two autonomous regions - the Azores and Madeira - is an electoral constituency. Portuguese voters residing outside the national territory are grouped into two electoral constituencies - Europe and the rest of the world - each one of which elects two Assembly members. The remaining 226 seats are allocated among the national territory constituencies in proportion to their number of registered electors.
Political parties and party coalitions may present lists of candidates. The lists are closed, so electors may not choose individual candidates in or alter the order of such lists. Electors cast a ballot for a single list. The seats in each constituency are apportioned according to the largest average method of proportional representation (PR), conceived by the Belgian mathematician Victor d'Hondt in 1899. Although there is no statutory threshold for participation in the allocation of Assembly seats, the application of the d'Hondt method introduces a de facto threshold at the constituency level.
Poll results are listed in the table below in reverse chronological order, showing the most recent first. The highest percentage figure in each polling survey is displayed in bold, and the background shaded in the leading party's colour. In the instance that there is a tie, then no figure is shaded but both are displayed in bold. The lead column on the right shows the percentage-point difference between the two parties with the highest figures. Poll results use the date the survey's fieldwork was done, as opposed to the date of publication.
The following table shows the opinion polls of voting intention of the Portuguese voters before the election. Those parties that are listed are currently represented in parliament. Included is also the result of the Portuguese general elections in 2005 and 2009 for reference.
Exit polls from the three major television networks in Portugal, RTP1, SIC and TVI were given precisely at 20:00PM (local time) on 27 September 2009.
APortuguese Communist Party (13 MPs) and "The Greens" (2 MPs) ran in coalition. B Elected in 2005 in the Social Democratic Party eletoral lists. C Earth Party / Humanist Party joint electoral list only in continental Portugal. D Earth Party electoral list only in Madeira and Azores.