Socialist Party (Portugal)

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Socialist Party
Partido Socialista
PresidentCarlos César
Secretary-GeneralAntónio Costa
FounderMário Soares
Founded19 April 1973; 50 years ago (1973-04-19)
Legalized1 February 1975; 48 years ago (1975-02-01)[1]
Preceded byAcção Socialista Portuguesa
HeadquartersLargo do Rato 2, 1269–143 Lisbon
NewspaperAcção Socialista
Student wingEstudantes Socialistas
Youth wingSocialist Youth
Women's wingNational Department of the Socialist Women
Membership74,073 (2021 est.)[2]
IdeologySocial democracy
Political positionCentre-left
European affiliationParty of European Socialists
International affiliation
European Parliament groupProgressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats
Trade union affiliationGeneral Union of Workers
  •   Red (official)
  •   Pink (customary)
AnthemA Internacional[3]
(The Internationale)
Assembly of the Republic
120 / 230
European Parliament
9 / 21
Regional Parliaments
44 / 104
Local government
148 / 308
Local government
1,264 / 3,066
Party flag
Flag of the Socialist Party
Website Edit this at Wikidata

The Socialist Party (Portuguese: Partido Socialista, pronounced [pɐɾˈtiðu susiɐˈliʃtɐ], PS) is a social-democratic[4][5] political party in Portugal. It was founded on 19 April 1973 in the German city of Bad Münstereifel by militants who were at the time with the Portuguese Socialist Action (Portuguese: Acção Socialista Portuguesa). The PS is a member of the Socialist International, Progressive Alliance and Party of European Socialists, and has nine members in the European Parliament within the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats group during the 9th European Parliament. It is the governing party of Portugal since the 2022 legislative election.

A party of the centre-left,[6][7] the PS is one of the two major parties in Portuguese politics, its rival being the Social Democratic Party (PSD), a centre-right, conservative party. The current leader of the PS is António Costa, the current Prime Minister of Portugal. The party won 120 of 230 seats in the Portuguese parliament following the January 2022 election, enough to form a majority government.


Portuguese Socialist Action (1964-1973)[edit]

The Portuguese Socialist Action (ASP) was founded in November 1964, in Geneva, Switzerland, by Mário Soares, Manuel Tito de Morais and Francisco Ramos da Costa. The ASP was founded in exile by several Socialist members as political organizations during Salazar's Estado Novo regime were forbidden. In 1964, Mário Soares was elected leader of the ASP and the core principles and values of the ASP were approved.[8]

Inspired by May 68,[9] the Socialist Party (PS) was created at a conference of Portuguese Socialist Action (ASP) on 19 April 1973, in Bad Münstereifel in West Germany:

Ballot: 19 April 1973
Option Votes %
In favour of a party 20 74.1
Against a party 7 25.9
Turnout 27

The twenty-seven delegates decided to found a party of socialism and political freedom, making an explicit reference to a classless society and with Marxism as a source of principal inspiration. However, seven delegates voted against the idea of creating a party, including Mário Soares wife Maria Barroso.

Socialist Party (1973-present)[edit]

On 25 April 1974, the Carnation Revolution brought down the authoritarian regime of the Estado Novo, established in 1933, and democracy was restored. Mário Soares, the party's General-Secretary, returned to Portugal after being in exile in France and became Minister of Foreign Affairs, and António de Almeida Santos was appointed Minister of Interjurisdictional Coordination in one of the first provisional governments. After the revolution, elections were called for 25 April 1975 and the PS won the 1975 election for the Constituent Assembly and the 1976 elections for the National Assembly, then losing to the Democratic Alliance (AD) in the 1979 legislative election. In 1980, the PS made an electoral alliance, called the Republican and Socialist Front (FRS), between the Independent Social Democrats (ASDI), led by Sousa Franco, and the Leftwing Union for the Socialist Democracy (UEDS), led by Lopes Cardoso. The alliance failed to defeat the AD.

They won the 1983 general election but without an absolute majority, and the PS formed a grand coalition with the centre-right Social Democratic Party (PSD), creating a Central Block. The new government began negotiations for Portugal to enter the European Economic Community (EEC). In 1985, the Central Block broke down and the PS, at the time led by Almeida Santos, lost the 1985 legislative election. Cavaco Silva's PSD won the 1985 elections, and again in 1987 and 1991 with an absolute majority. The PS was in opposition for more than ten years.

In the 1995 legislative election, the PS, then led by the already prominent António Guterres, won a general election for the first time in twelve years, and in the 1999 election failed to obtain what would have been a historic absolute majority for the party by only one MP. In 2001, after a massive defeat in the 2001 local elections, Guterres resigned as Prime Minister and called for new elections in 2002. The Socialist Party lost the 2002 general election by a small margin to the PSD, who formed a coalition government with the People's Party (CDS–PP). During this time, it has been argued that the Socialist Party moved towards the centre and adopted the Third Way.[11][12]

In June 2004, the PS won the 2004 European elections by a landslide, and a few weeks later, Durão Barroso, leader of the PSD and Prime Minister, resigned to become President of the European Commission. In December 2004, Jorge Sampaio, President of the Republic, called fresh elections for February 2005. These elections resulted in a landslide victory for the PS, winning for the first time since its foundation an absolute majority. José Sócrates, leader of the PS, became Prime Minister of Portugal.

In 2009, after four-and-a-half years in power, the PS lost the 2009 European Parliament elections to the PSD. However, they won the general election held on 27 September 2009 but failed to renew the absolute majority they won in the previous general election. The PS later introduced and legislated same-sex marriage. The Eurozone crisis and financial crisis of 2011 hit Portugal very hard, prompting Sócrates' government to impose harsh austerity measures. On 23 March 2011, the entire opposition in Parliament said no to new measures proposed by the government. As a result of this, Sócrates resigned as Prime Minister and a snap election took place on 5 June 2011. In the elections, the PS suffered a huge setback, with 28.1% of the vote, ten points behind the PSD, who formed another coalition government with the CDS–PP. Sócrates resigned as General-Secretary on election night after the PS's worst result since 1987. On 23 July 2011, António José Seguro was elected as Sócrates' successor.

António Costa, Prime Minister of Portugal since November 2015 and the party's Secretary-General since 2014

Under the leadership of Seguro, the PS won the 2013 local elections making significant gains over the PSD and the Socialists again won the European elections in May 2014 but this time only just. They won 31.5% of the vote against almost 28% of the alliance between the PSD and CDS–PP. The result was considered quite a disappointment to many PS members and supporters and on 27 May António Costa, the then-mayor of Lisbon announced that he would stand for the leadership of the PS.[13] Seguro refused to call a new congress and leadership election and instead called for a primary election, to be held on 28 September, to elect the party's candidate for Prime Minister in the 2015 general elections.[14] Costa, being endorsed by the left faction of the party and people like Mário Soares, Ana Catarina Mendes and Pedro Nuno Santos, easily defeated Seguro, who was supported by the more moderate and centrist wing of the party, by a 67% to 31% margin.

In the 2015 legislative elections, the PS polled a disappointing second place, capturing just 32% of the votes against the 38.6% of the PSD/CDS–PP electoral alliance Portugal Ahead. Despite the victory of the PSD/CDS-PP coalition, the centre-left and left-wing parties achieved a clear majority in the Portuguese parliament. After the second Passos Coelho cabinet fell in parliament, with the approval of a no-confidence motion, the PS forged a confidence and supply agreement with Left Bloc and Unitary Democratic Coalition to support a PS minority government. For the first time in Portuguese democracy, the leader of the second most voted political force became Prime Minister.

In order to avoid bankruptcy due to mounting debt, in 2017, the party, alongside the PSD, the Portuguese Communist Party, BE and the ecologist party PEV, voted in favour of abolishing party fundraising limits, thereby opening all portuguese parties to private political donorship, that they are not obligated to disclose.[15][16][17][18] The new proposal was reluctantly approved by the Portuguese president Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa.[19]

Socialist Party national headquarters in Lisbon.
Socialist Party national headquarters during 1975.

Costa led a very successful first term as Prime Minister with a growing economy, low unemployment, and deficit cuts. Although he led a more left-leaning PS, Costa started to shift the party back to the centre in 2018, something that a younger and more left-wing faction, led by minister Pedro Nuno Santos, contested.[20] In the 2019 European elections, the PS won a landslide by achieving 33.4%, against the 22% of the PSD. The PS also won the October 2019 general election with 36% of the votes, against the 28% of the PSD, but by a closer margin than expected. The Second Costa cabinet was sworn in on 26 October 2019.

In October 2020, the PS lost power in the Azores region after the Socialists lost their majority in the region's 2020 October elections. The PS only got 39% of the votes, a drop of 7 pp, and 25 seats.[21] The rightwing parties, PSD, CDS, PPM, CHEGA, and IL won a majority of one seat over the whole leftwing, and a few weeks after the election, they forged a deal that led the PSD to government.[22] As of 2021, the PS is now in opposition in the only two autonomous regions of the country.

For the 2021 Portuguese presidential election, Costa endorsed the incumbent Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, something that made some party members unsatisfied. Former PS MEP Ana Gomes a critic of Costa and a member of the left faction of the party, ran for the presidency, declaring herself the candidate of democratic socialism and progressivism, stating that she has been disappointed with the leadership of the party for not having an official candidate.[23][24] With the support of the left faction of the party and some more moderate members worried about corruption, Gomes finished in a disappointing second place behind de Sousa, who had many endorsements of party leaders like Lisbon's Mayor Fernando Medina, Eduardo Ferro Rodrigues, and Carlos César.

The party suffered a setback in the 2021 local elections by losing several cities to the PSD, but, the main defeat was the loss of Lisbon to the PSD candidate, who defeated Fernando Medina by a narrow 34% to 33% margin.[25] After the local elections, tensions between the PS and its leftwing allies, BE and CDU, led to the rejection of the 2022 budget which forced the calling of a snap election for January 2022.[26] Despite polls predicting a close race between the PS and PSD, the Socialists won a surprise absolute majority, only the 2nd in their history, with 41% of the votes against the 29% of the PSD.[27]


The PS is a mainstream centre-left social democratic party with many internal factions, ranging from democratic socialism to social liberalism and centrism. It supports Keynesianism, Europeanism, and progressivism. Like many mainstream social democratic parties, it has previously adopted a Third Way outlook.[11]

Election results[edit]

Assembly of the Republic[edit]

Seat share in the Portuguese legislative elections

Election Leader Votes % Seats +/- Government
1975 Mário Soares 2,162,972 37.9 (#1)
116 / 250
Constituent Assembly
1976 1,912,921 34.9 (#1)
107 / 263
Decrease9 Minority[a]
1979 1,642,136 27.3 (#2)
74 / 250
Decrease33 Opposition
1980 Republican and
Socialist Front
66 / 250
Decrease8 Opposition
1983 2,061,309 36.1 (#1)
101 / 250
Increase35 Coalition[b]
1985 Almeida Santos 1,204,321 20.8 (#2)
57 / 250
Decrease44 Opposition
1987 Vítor Constâncio 1,262,506 22.2 (#2)
60 / 250
Increase3 Opposition
1991 Jorge Sampaio 1,670,758 29.1 (#2)
72 / 230
Increase12 Opposition
1995 António Guterres 2,583,755 43.8 (#1)
112 / 230
Increase40 Minority
1999 2,385,922 44.1 (#1)
115 / 230
Increase3 Minority
2002 Eduardo Ferro Rodrigues 2,068,584 37.8 (#2)
96 / 230
Decrease19 Opposition
2005 José Sócrates 2,588,312 45.0 (#1)
121 / 230
Increase25 Majority
2009 2,077,238 36.6 (#1)
97 / 230
Decrease24 Minority
2011 1,566,347 28.1 (#2)
74 / 230
Decrease23 Opposition
2015 António Costa 1,747,685 32.3 (#2)
86 / 230
Increase12 Opposition
2019 1,903,687 36.3 (#1)
108 / 230
Increase22 Minority
2022 2,302,601 41.4 (#1)
120 / 230
Increase12 Majority

European Parliament[edit]

Election Leader Votes % Seats +/-
1987 Maria de Lourdes Pintasilgo 1,267,672 22.5 (#2)
6 / 24
1989 João Cravinho 1,184,380 28.5 (#2)
8 / 24
1994 António Vitorino 1,061,560 34.9 (#1)
10 / 25
1999 Mário Soares 1,493,146 43.1 (#1)
12 / 25
2004 António Costa 1,516,001 44.5 (#1)
12 / 24
2009 Vital Moreira 946,818 26.5 (#2)
7 / 22
2014 Francisco Assis 1,033,158 31.5 (#1)
8 / 21
2019 Pedro Marques 1,106,328 33.4 (#1)
9 / 21

Regional Assemblies[edit]

Region Election Leader Votes % Seats +/- Government
Azores 2020 Vasco Cordeiro 40,703 39.1 (#1)
25 / 57
Decrease5 Opposition
Madeira 2019 Paulo Cafôfo 51,207 35.8 (#2)
19 / 47
Increase14 Opposition

List of lead party figures[edit]


Graphical timeline[edit]

António CostaAntónio José SeguroJosé SócratesEduardo Ferro RodriguesAntónio GuterresJorge SampaioVítor ConstâncioAntónio MacedoAntónio Almeida SantosMário Soares
Mário Soares, founder, Prime Minister (1976–1978, 1983–1985), and President (1986–1996).
António Guterres, Prime Minister from 1995 to 2002 and the 9th Secretary-General of the United Nations.
José Sócrates, the party's Secretary-General (2004–2011) and Prime Minister (2005–2011).

Party presidents[edit]

Carlos César, President of the Government of the Azores from 1996 to 2012 and the current party president

Presidents of the Assembly[edit]

Prime Ministers[edit]

Presidents of the Republic[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Minority government (1976–1978); Coalition government with the CDS between January and August 1978; Opposition (1978–1979).
  2. ^ Central Bloc government (PS-PSD) (Jun 1983-Nov 1985)
  3. ^ Opposition (Oct–Nov 2015); Confidence and supply government between the PS and BEPCPPEV (Nov 2015-Oct 2019)


  1. ^ "Partidos registados e suas denominações, siglas e símbolos". Constitutional Court of Portugal (in Portuguese). Retrieved 31 July 2021.
  2. ^ São José, Almeida (28 August 2021). "Quem são e onde estão os militantes do PS: 44,4% estão nas zonas do Porto, Braga e Lisboa". Público. Retrieved 28 August 2021.
  3. ^ Tavares, Tiago. "Os hinos que se cantavam nas primeiras eleições". Observador.
  4. ^ Nordsieck, Wolfram (2019). "Portugal". Parties and Elections in Europe. Retrieved 8 October 2019.
  5. ^ Dimitri Almeida (2012). The Impact of European Integration on Political Parties: Beyond the Permissive Consensus. CRC Press. p. 71. ISBN 978-1-136-34039-0. Retrieved 14 July 2013.
  6. ^ Lisi, Marco; Freire, André (2014). "The selection of political party leaders in Portugal". In Jean-Benoit Pilet; William Cross (eds.). The Selection of Political Party Leaders in Contemporary Parliamentary Democracies: A Comparative Study. Routledge. p. 124. ISBN 978-1-317-92945-1.
  7. ^ Guedes, Nuno (2016). "Esquerda-direita: análise das posições ideológicas do PS e do PSD (1990-2010)". Sociologia, Problemas e Práticas (80): 95–116.
  8. ^ "Primeiras formações socialistas", Diário de Notícias, 7 January 2017. Retrieved 21 May 2023.
  9. ^ Varela, Raquel; della Santa, Roberto (4 December 2018). "O Maio de 68 na Europa – Estado e Revolução" [The May of 68 in Europe – State and Revolution] (PDF). Direito e Práxis (in Portuguese). 9 (2): 969–991. doi:10.1590/2179-8966/2018/33600. ISSN 2179-8966.
  10. ^ "Valores de Mário Soares marcaram os 50 anos de história do PS", Diário de Notícias, 19 April 1973. Retrieved 21 May 2023.
  11. ^ a b Costa Lobo, Marina; Magalhães, Pedro C. (2001). "The Portuguese Socialists and the Third Way" (PDF). European Consortium for Political Research. Retrieved 7 November 2016. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  12. ^ Pearlstein, Steven (6 May 2009). "In Portugal, as in America, a 'Third Way' Is Reemerging". The Washington Post. Retrieved 11 May 2009.
  13. ^ Nuno, Sá Lourenço (27 May 2014). "António Costa avança para a liderança do PS". Público. Retrieved 4 September 2014.
  14. ^ Telma, Roque (6 June 2014). "Aprovada a realização de eleições primárias no PS a 28 de setembro". Jornal de Notícias. Retrieved 4 September 2014.
  15. ^ Partidos podem angariar quanto quiserem e o IVA é devolvido in Jornal Eco, retrieved on August 9 2022
  16. ^ O que muda no financiamento dos partidos? E as dúvidas que ficam in Jornal Eco, retrieved on August 9 2022.
  17. ^ Pela calada do Natal aconteceu o saque partidário in Jornal Eco, consulted on August 9 2022
  18. ^ Partidos sem limites para angariar fundos e com devolução total do IVA in Jornal Público, retrieved on August 9 2022
  19. ^ Alteração à lei de financiamento dos partidos políticos promulgada in Transparência Internacional - Transparency International Portugal, retrieved on August 9 2022.
  20. ^ Ana, Sá Lopes (4 June 2018). "Pedro Nuno ganha batalha e António Costa não gostou". Sol. Retrieved 18 May 2020.
  21. ^ "PS perde maioria absoluta nos Açores, e Chega, IL e PAN entram no parlamento ", Público, 25 October 2020. Retrieved 28 August 2021.
  22. ^ "Eleições nos Açores: Novo Governo regional toma posse na terça-feira", Observador, 19 November 2020. Retrieved 28 August 2021.
  23. ^ Almeida, Joana (10 September 2020). "Ana Gomes formaliza candidatura à Presidência da República em nome do 'socialismo democrático'" [Ana Gomes formalizes candidacy for President of the Republic in the name of 'democratic socialism']. O Jornal Económico. Retrieved 31 July 2021.
  24. ^ Donn, Natasha (10 September 2020). "Ana Gomes ruffles feathers as she launches official bid for presidency". Portugal Resident. Retrieved 31 July 2021.
  25. ^ "Carlos Moedas eleito presidente da Câmara de Lisboa. "Ganhámos contra tudo e contra todos!" ", Público, 27 September 2021. Retrieved 20 March 2022.
  26. ^ "É o primeiro chumbo em democracia. Orçamento para 2022 não passa na Assembleia da República", Eco, 27 October 2021. Retrieved 20 March 2022.
  27. ^ "PS vence pela primeira vez em todos os distritos do continente", Renascença, 31 January 2022. Retrieved 20 March 2022.

External links[edit]