CDS – People's Party

CDS – People's Party
CDS – Partido Popular
Abbreviation CDS-PP[1]
Leader Assunção Cristas
Founded 19 July 1974 (1974-07-19)
Legalized 13 January 1975 (1975-01-13)[1]
Headquarters Largo Adelino Amaro da Costa 5, 1149-063 Lisbon
Youth wing People's Youth
Membership  (2013 ) 30,000
Ideology Conservatism[2]
Christian democracy[2]
National conservatism[2]
Political position Centre-right[4][5]
European affiliation European People's Party
International affiliation International Democrat Union
European Parliament group European People's Party
Colours           Blue and white
Assembly of the Republic
18 / 230
European Parliament
1 / 21
Regional Parliaments
12 / 104
Local Government
256 / 2,086

The CDS – People's Party (Portuguese: CDS – Partido Popular, derived from Centro Democrático e Social – Partido Popular, CDS-PP) is a Christian democratic,[6][7][8] conservative,[9][10] and national-conservative[11] political party in Portugal. In voting ballots the party's name appears only as People's Party, with the acronym CDS-PP unchanged.

The party was founded on 19 July 1974 during the Carnation Revolution. In its first democratic elections in 1975, the CDS-PP won 16 seats out of 230 – increasing to 42 in the 1976 legislative election. The party entered a short-lived coalition with the Socialist Party (PS) before joining the Democratic Alliance (AD). The party has been involved in centre-right coalitions with the Social Democratic Party (PSD) from 1980 to 1983 and again from 2002 to 2005. In the 2009 legislative election, the party won 21 seats, its most since the 1985 election, and increased it to 24 in 2011, leading to it forming a coalition government with the PSD.

The CDS-PP's current leader is Assunção Cristas. The party is a member of the European People's Party (EPP) and the International Democrat Union (IDU). The party also has autonomous organisations which share its political beliefs, the People's Youth and the Federation of Christian Democratic Workers.



The CDS-PP was founded on 19 July 1974 by Diogo Freitas do Amaral, Adelino Amaro da Costa, Basílio Horta, Vítor Sá Machado, Valentim Xavier Pintado, João Morais Leitão and João Porto. By that time, Portugal was living an unstable political moment: instability, violence and great social tensions were evident after the Carnation Revolution held on 25 April of the same year. The then CDS declared itself as a party rigorously at the centre of the political spectrum, but by then it already counted with a major slice of Portuguese right-winger in its affiliations. On 13 January 1975, the leaders of the CDS-PP delivered at the Supreme Court of Justice the necessary documentation to legalise the party. The first congress was held on 25 January 1975, at the Rosa Mota Pavilion, Porto.

First years of opposition

After 25 March 1975, a regime centred in social matters, state control of the economy and military leadership began its efforts to dominate the nation, which summed up with the COPCON (a post-revolutionary military organisation founded in 1974) and the constant attacks perpetrated on the western social democrat model, led the CDS to declare itself officially as an opposition party. Its 16 deputies cast the only votes against the Socialist-influenced Constitution of 1976, on 2 April. In the legislative election of 1976, the CDS achieved its objectives by having 42 deputies elected and so surpassing the Portuguese Communist Party (PCP).

The Democratic Alliance

In 1979 the CDS proposed a coalition with the Social Democratic Party (PSD) and the People’s Monarchist Party (PPM). The proposal brought about the creation of the Democratic Alliance (AD), headed by Francisco Sá Carneiro, which won the general elections of 1979 and 1980.

In the AD governments the CDS was represented by five ministers and ten secretaries of state, with the president of the party, Diogo Freitas do Amaral, being nominated to the offices of Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs (later nominated Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of National Defence).

On the night of 4 December 1980, the then Prime Minister of Portugal, Francisco Sá Carneiro, Minister of National Defence, Adelino Amaro da Costa, and others, died in a plane crash. The president of the CDS, Diogo Freitas do Amaral, stood in for Francisco Sá Carneiro until the nomination of a new government, this time headed by Francisco Pinto Balsemão. The VII Constitutional Government collapsed on 4 September 1981, after the resignation of Freitas do Amaral from the government and from the presidency of the party, putting an end to the Democratic Alliance.

An opposition of 20 years

After the collapse of the AD, the party looked for a new leader and new direction. Freitas do Amaral's successor was Adriano Moreira, who, when having been unable to stop the party's negative performance, did not stand for re-election. Freitas do Amaral returned as party president, during a period characterised by the electoral success of the PSD, Aníbal Cavaco Silva, to lead a rump of 4 deputies (later 5) in parliament. Freitas do Amaral left the party in 1992.

In 1992 a new generation took over the party and in March of that year, at the party’s 10th Congress, the former president of the Centrist Youth (the then-youth organisation of the CDS), Manuel Monteiro, was elected to the presidency. A year later, at an extraordinary congress, the title People's Party ("Partido Popular") was added to the party's official name in an effort to emulate the Spanish party of the same name.

In 1993, the CDS-PP was expelled from the European People's Party (EPP), both for rejecting the Maastricht Treaty and therefore being not pro-integrationist enough and for not paying due membership fees.[12]

The CDS-PP underwent an electoral recovery in the general election of 1995, electing 15 deputies. However, following poor electoral results in local elections in 1997, Manuel Monteiro resigned and was replaced at the party's Braga congress by Paulo Portas who defeated Maria José Nogueira Pinto. Portas proposed a return to the party's Christian democratic roots and set himself the challenge of keeping all 15 seats in parliament in the general election of 1999. This was accomplished.

The "Democratic Coalition"

After a massive electoral defeat in the 2001 local elections, the Socialist Party (PS) Prime Minister António Guterres resigned with a general election being held in early 2002. The PSD won a relative majority, forcing them to enter into a coalition, 20 years after their previous coalition government with the CDS-PP. The CDS-PP gained three ministries: Paulo Portas as Minister of National Defence, Bagão Félix as Minister of Social Security and Celeste Cardona as Minister of Justice.

The CDS-PP contested the 2004 European election in a joint electoral list with the PSD called Forward Portugal (FP), retaining its 2 MEPs.

In the summer of 2004, PSD Prime Minister José Manuel Durão Barroso, resigned to become president of the European Commission and in order to avoid an early general election, President Jorge Sampaio invited Pedro Santana Lopes to form a new PSD/CDS-PP coalition government. Due to low popularity and what was seen as the inept handling of the country by the new Prime Minister, parliament was dissolved after just four months on 30 November 2004 and a new general election was scheduled for February 2005.

Portuguese general election of 2005

CDS-PP rally in January 2005 in Europarque, Santa Maria da Feira, with more than 5,000 people.

In the 2005 legislative election, the CDS-PP obtained 7.2% of the vote and returning 12 deputies, losing two of its 14 deputies. The CDS-PP returned to opposition, with its coalition partner the PSD losing to the centre-left PS, whose leader José Sócrates became Prime Minister. This electoral failure for the CDS-PP, along with the defeat of the PSD led to Paulo Portas's resignation as party leader and a congress to elect a new leader.

"Portugal 2009"

After the resignation of Paulo Portas, who had led the CDS-PP for seven years, two candidates then emerged: Telmo Correia and José Ribeiro e Castro, with the former being looked on as a favourite, following the line and style of Paulo Portas. However, José Ribeiro e Castro with his 'Portugal 2009' platform was elected president of the CDS-PP. In May 2007, however, Paulo Portas was again elected as the leader of the party, amidst controversy.

The CDS-PP contested the 2009 European election in a standalone list, retaining its 2 MEPs with 8.4% of the vote.

In the 2009 legislative election, the party increased their share of the votes to 10.4% and won 21 seats, while remaining in opposition to Prime Minister José Sócrates.

Return to government in 2011

In the 2011 legislative election, the CDS-PP increased its share of the vote yet again to 11.7%, returning 24 deputies. This, along with the victory of the PSD over the incumbent PS government, resulted in the CDS-PP joining a coalition government led by PSD leader and Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho, obtaining 5 ministries in the cabinet.

2014 European elections

Th 2014 European election had the CDS-PP once again form a joint list with the PSD, this time called the Portugal Alliance. The list received 27.7% of the vote, second place behind the PS, and returned a single MEP for the CDS-PP.


A large ideological overlap exists between the CDS-PP and the Social Democratic Party (PSD).[13] The CDS-PP's original philosophy was based on Christian democracy,[14] and it was originally positioned in the centre.[15] A factional disagreement within the party between those that believed that the CDS-PP should be to the right of the PSD or in the political centre erupted.[16] The party shifted in the early 1990s under the leadership of Manuel Monteiro. It still considers itself to be a centrist party.[17]

The party used to have a pro-EU line, but switched under Monteiro,[18] becoming mildly eurosceptic, including opposing the Maastricht Treaty,[19] with this change of tack credited for ending the party's decline.[14] As a result of the change, the European People's Party (EPP) expelled the CDS-PP from the EPP Group in the European parliament, with the CDS-PP joining the Union for Europe (UfE) group instead. Monteiro's successor, Paulo Portas, continued the CDS-PP's Eurosceptic line,[20] but rejoined the EPP.

The CDS-PP has always strongly opposed the legalisation of abortion in Portugal and is officially a pro-life party. It had campaigned vigorously against the legalisation of abortion up to ten weeks in the 1998 referendum on abortion and in the 2007 referendum, where under the current law abortions are allowed up to 12 weeks if the mother's life or mental or physical health is at risk, up to 16 weeks in cases of rape and up to 24 weeks if the child may be born with an incurable disease or deformity; whereas the new law proposal will allow abortions on request up to the tenth week. The CDS-PP has proposed what it considers to be responsible alternatives based on the "right to life" to solve the problem of illegal abortion and of abortion itself.

Political positions

Some of the Party's proposals include:

Political support

In line with the two largest parties in Portuguese politics, but unlike the two far-left parties, the CDS-PP is a big tent party, with appeal across social and ideological groups.[21] The party's voters have a similar profile to the PSD.[22] It has low voter loyalty, with voter retention historically being half the level of the three other largest parties.[23]

The major issue on which the voter profile differs most significantly from the other parties is abortion, where those that identify as pro-life are significantly more likely to vote for the CDS-PP.[24]

The CDS-PP receives a considerable amount of support amongst farmers in the north, as well as among entrepreneurs and managers.[25]


International affiliations

The CDS-PP is a member party of the International Democrat Union (IDU) and European People's Party (EPP). One MEP currently sits in the EPP Group in the European Parliament.

It was formerly a member of the European Union of Christian Democrats (EUCD), as well as the EUCD-affiliated EPP's political group in the European Parliament, from 1986 to 1995. In 1995, the party – under the more Eurosceptic leadership of Manuel Monteiro – was kicked out of the EPP; it left the EUCD and joined the Union for Europe group in the European Parliament.[14] In 2003, the party joined the European Democrats component of the European People's Party–European Democrats (EPP–ED) group. In 2006, it left the European Democrats – now collapsing due to the formation of the Movement for European Reform – to join the EPP group proper.

Election results

Assembly of the Republic

Election Assembly of the Republic Government Size Leader
Votes % ±pp Seats won +/−
1975 434,879 7.6%
16 / 250
Constituent assembly 4th Freitas do Amaral
1976 876,007 16.0% Increase8.4
42 / 263
Increase26 Opposition 3rd Freitas do Amaral
1979 w. Democratic Alliance
43 / 250
Increase1 Majority gov't 4th Freitas do Amaral
1980 w. Democratic Alliance
46 / 250
Increase3 Majority gov't 3rd Freitas do Amaral
1983 716,705 12.6%
30 / 250
Decrease16 Opposition 4th Lucas Pires
1985 577,580 10.0% Decrease2.6
22 / 250
Decrease8 Opposition 5th Lucas Pires
1987 251,987 4.4% Decrease5.6
4 / 250
Decrease18 Opposition 5th Lucas Pires
1991 254,317 4.4% Increase0.0
5 / 230
Increase1 Opposition 4th Freitas do Amaral
1995 534,470 9.1% Increase4.7
15 / 230
Increase10 Opposition 3rd Manuel Monteiro
1999 451,543 8.3% Decrease0.8
15 / 230
Steady0 Opposition 4th Paulo Portas
2002 477,350 8.7% Increase0.4
14 / 230
Decrease1 Coalition gov't
3rd Paulo Portas
2005 416,415 7.2% Decrease1.5
12 / 230
Decrease2 Opposition 4th Paulo Portas
2009 592,778 10.4% Increase3.2
21 / 230
Increase9 Opposition 3rd Paulo Portas
2011 652,194 11.7% Increase1.3
24 / 230
Increase3 Coalition gov't
3rd Paulo Portas
2015 w. Portugal Ahead
18 / 230
Decrease6 Opposition 4th Paulo Portas

European Parliament

Election European Parliament Size Candidate
Votes % ±pp Seats won +/
1987 868,718 15.4%
4 / 24
3rd Lucas Pires
1989 587,497 14.2% Decrease1.2
3 / 24
Decrease1 4th Lucas Pires
1994 379,044 12.8% Decrease1.4
3 / 25
Steady0 3rd Manuel Monteiro
1999 283,067 8.2% Decrease4.6
2 / 25
Decrease1 4th Paulo Portas
2004 w. Força Portugal
2 / 24
Steady0 3rd João de Deus Pinheiro
2009 298,423 8.4%
2 / 22
Steady0 5th Nuno Melo
2014 w. Aliança Portugal
1 / 21
Decrease1 5th Nuno Melo

List of leaders

Paulo Portas was leader of the CDS-PP from 1998 to 2005, and again from 2007 to 2016.
Name Start End
1st Diogo Freitas do Amaral (1st time) 19 July 1974 20 February 1983
2nd Francisco Lucas Pires 20 February 1983 24 February 1985
3rd Adriano Moreira 24 February 1985 31 January 1988
4th Diogo Freitas do Amaral (2nd time) 31 January 1988 22 March 1992
5th Manuel Monteiro 22 March 1992 22 March 1998
6th Paulo Portas (1st time) 22 March 1998 24 April 2005
7th José Ribeiro e Castro 24 April 2005 21 April 2007
8th Paulo Portas (2nd time) 21 April 2007 12 March 2016
9th Assunção Cristas 13 March 2016 Present day


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  2. 1 2 3 Parties and Elections in Europe: The database about parliamentary elections and political parties in Europe, by Wolfram Nordsieck
  3. Claire Annesley, ed. (2005), A Political And Economic Dictionary Of Western Europe, Routledge, p. 259
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  13. Bruneau (2007), p. 77
  14. 1 2 3 Magone (2003), p. 143
  15. Costa Lobo, Marina; Magalhães, Pedro C. "Room for Manoeuvre: Euroscepticism in the Portuguese Parties and Electorate, 1976-2005".
  16. Bruneau (2007), p. 91
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  18. Leston-Bandeira (2004), p. 31
  19. Magone (2003), p. 110
  20. Magone (2003), p. 144
  21. Freire et al. (2007), p. 138
  22. Freire et al. (2007), p. 134
  23. Sánchez-Cuenca, Ignacio (May 2003). "How can governments by accountable if voters vote ideologically?" (PDF). Working Paper. CEACS. 2003 (191).
  24. Freire et al. (2007), p. 117
  25. Veiga, Francisco José; Gonçalves Veiga, Linda. "The Determinants of Vote Intentions in Portugal". Public Choice. 118 (3–4): 341–364. doi:10.1023/B:PUCH.0000019913.00616.e2.


External links

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