Portuguese legislative election, 2015

Portuguese legislative election, 2015
4 October 2015

230 seats to the Assembly of the Republic
116 seats needed for a majority
Registered 9,684,922 Increase0.6%
Turnout 5,408,092 (55.8%)
Decrease2.2 pp
  First party Second party Third party
Leader Pedro Passos Coelho António Costa Catarina Martins
Party PàF PS BE
Leader since 26 March 2010[lower-alpha 1] 28 September 2014 30 November 2014
Leader's seat Lisbon[lower-alpha 2] Lisbon Porto
Last election 132 seats, 50.4%[lower-alpha 3] 74 seats, 28.0% 8 seats, 5.2%
Seats won 107 86 19
Seat change Decrease 25 Increase 12 Increase 11
Popular vote 2,085,465 1,747,730 550,945
Percentage 38.6% 32.3% 10.2%
Swing Decrease 11.8 pp Increase 4.3 pp Increase 5.0 pp

  Fourth party Fifth party
Leader Jerónimo de Sousa André Silva
Leader since 27 November 2004 26 October 2014
Leader's seat Lisbon Lisbon
Last election 16 seats, 7.9% 0 seats, 1.0%
Seats won 17 1
Seat change Increase 1 Increase 1
Popular vote 445,901 75,170
Percentage 8.3% 1.4%
Swing Increase 0.4 pp Increase 0.4 pp

Most voted-for political force by district or autonomous region
(Portugal Ahead coalition and PPD/PSD in orange, PS in pink)

Prime Minister before election

Pedro Passos Coelho

Prime Minister-designate[lower-alpha 4]

António Costa

A Portuguese legislative election was held on 4 October 2015.[1] All 230 seats of the Assembly of the Republic were in contention.

The right-wing coalition Portugal Ahead (PàF), composed of the Social Democratic Party (PSD) and the People's Party (CDS-PP), won the single largest vote with 38.6%, securing 46% of the seats in the Assembly. Compared with 2011, this was a loss of 12% in support (although the PSD and the CDS–PP did not contest the 2011 election in coalition). On the electoral map, the coalition won every district in the North and in the Centre except Castelo Branco. They also have won in the districts of Lisbon and Porto. The map shows a clear North-South divide, with the conservative coalition winning almost everything in the North and Centre and the PS winning in the South.

The Socialist Party (PS) was the second most voted political force, winning 32.3% of the vote and 37% of the seats in the Parliament. The PS received a higher share of the vote than in 2011, but did not increase its share by as much of a margin as had been predicted by the opinion polls prior to September 2015. António Costa, former mayor of Lisbon, was not able to win the city of Lisbon, where the PS lost to PàF 35% to 37%. Although the PS and the other left-wing parties did win a clear overall majority in Parliament, in his concession speech Costa said that he would not support "a negative coalition" with the Left Bloc and Communist Party and that he would rather talk and negotiate with the PSD/CDS–PP coalition.[2]

The Left Bloc (BE), despite predictions by opinion polls, achieved its best result in history,[3] with more than 10% of the vote, becoming the third largest parliamentary group. The CDU's share of the vote increased slightly compared to 2011, receiving 8% of the vote and one additional MP. The People–Animals–Nature (PAN) also elected one member of parliament becoming the first time since 1999 in which a new party entered the Assembly.[4] Voter turnout reached a new low, with just 55.8% of the electorate casting their ballot on election day.[3]

The government fell after the approval of a motion to bring it down on 10 November. On 24 November, António Costa was appointed by the President of the Republic as Prime Minister-designate.


Politics of Portugal

Main article: Politics of Portugal

The President of Portugal has the power to dissolve the Assembly of the Republic by his own will. Unlike other countries the President can refuse to dissolve the parliament at the request of the Prime Minister or the Assembly of the Republic and all the parties represented in Parliament. If the Prime Minister resigns, the President must nominate a new Prime Minister after listening to all the parties represented in Parliament and then the government programme must be subject to discussion by the Assembly of the Republic, whose members of parliament may present a motion to reject the upcoming government.

Primaries 2014

The 2014 Portuguese Socialist Party prime ministerial primary was held on 28 September 2014. It was the first open primary in the history of the party, and of Portugal, and elected the party's candidate for Prime Minister for the 2015 general election. There were two candidates running, António José Seguro, General Secretary of the party at the time of the primary, and António Costa, mayor of Lisbon. António Costa won the primary by a landslide with 67.9% of the vote against the 31.7% of Antonio José Seguro, resulting in Seguro conceding defeat and resigning as General Secretary of the party. Costa was next elected new socialist's General Secretary on 22 November 2014.[5]


According to the Portuguese Constitution, an election must be called between 14 September and 14 October of the year that the legislature ends. The election is called by the President of Portugal but is not called at the request of the Prime Minister, however the President must listen all the parties represented in Parliament and the election day must be announced at least 60 days before the election.[6] If an election is called in the middle of the legislature (Dissolution of Parliament) it must be held at least in 55 days. Election day is the same in all multi-seats constituencies, and should fall on a Sunday or national holiday. The next legislative election must, therefore, took place no later than 11 October 2015.[7] After meeting with all of the parties represented in parliament on 21 July 2015, the President Aníbal Cavaco Silva called the election for 4 October.[1]

Electoral system

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 do not require absolute majority support of the Assembly to hold office, as even if the number of opposers of government is larger than that of the supporters, the number of opposers still needs to be equal or greater than 116 (absolute majority) for both the Government's Programme to be rejected or for a motion of no confidence to be approved.[8]

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 divided among parties 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, there is an effective threshold at the constituency level that depends on the district magnitude.[9] The use of the d'Hondt method makes for a higher effective threshold than certain other allocation method such as the Hare quota or Sainte-Laguë method, which are more generous to small parties.[10]


The parties and coalitions that contested seats to Portuguese parliament, and their leaders, were:

Political party Leader Political spectrum Political groups of the European Parliament
Portugal Ahead (PàF)
Social Democratic Party (PSD)
CDS – People's Party (CDS-PP)
Pedro Passos Coelho Centre-right to
European People's Party Group (EPP)
Socialist Party (PS) António Costa Centre-left Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D)
Unitary Democratic Coalition (CDU)
Portuguese Communist Party (PCP)
Ecologist Party "The Greens" (PEV)
Jerónimo de Sousa Left-wing to Far-Left European United Left–Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL)
Left Bloc (BE) Catarina Martins Left-wing to Far-Left European United Left–Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL)
Portuguese Workers' Communist Party (PCTP-MRPP) António Garcia Pereira Far-left -
Earth Party (MPT) José Inácio Faria Centre-right Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe Group (ALDE/ADLE)
People-Animals-Nature (PAN) André Silva Centre-left -
National Renovator Party (PNR) José Pinto Coelho Far-right -
We, the Citizens! (NC) Mendo Castro Henriques Centre-right[11] -
LIVRE/Tempo de Avançar (L/TDA) Rui Tavares Centre-left to Left-wing -
Democratic Republican Party (PDR) António Marinho e Pinto Centre to Centre-left Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe Group (ALDE/ADLE)
Portuguese Labour Party (PTP)
Socialist Alternative Movement (MAS)
Joana Amaral Dias Far-left to Centre-left -
People's Monarchist Party (PPM) Paulo Estevão Right-wing -
Christian Democratic and Citizenship (CDC/PPV) Tânia Avillez Right-wing -
United Party of Retirees and Pensioners (PURP) António Mateus Dias Anti-austerity -
Together for the People (JPP) Filipe Sousa Centrism -

Opinion polling

15-day average trend line of poll results from June 2011 to the present day, with each line's colour corresponding to a political party.

Leaders' debates

After changes in the electoral law that obligated that all of the parties contesting an election should be represented in debates, the 3 main TV networks RTP, SIC and TVI proposed 3 debates between the two main candidates António Costa and Pedro Passos Coelho and also a series of head-to-head debates between various party leaders and one debate with all party leaders.[12] After meetings with the various parties, it was decided to hold two face-to-face debates between António Costa and Pedro Passos Coelho in which one will be broadcast on television and the other on radio. There was also going to be a debate between all the parties represented in Parliament but it was cancelled by the refusal of the PSD/CDS-PP coalition to have only the leader of the PSD on the debate and not also the leader of the CDS-PP, Paulo Portas[13][14]

Completed televised debates:

Organizer Participants Date Moderator Notes
RTP Informação Jerónimo de Sousa (PCP); Catarina Martins (BE) 1 September Vítor Gonçalves
SIC Notícias Paulo Portas (CDS-PP); Catarina Martins (BE) 8 September Ana Lourenço
RTP1/SIC/TVI António Costa (PS); Pedro Passos Coelho (PSD/CDS-PP) 9 September Judite de Sousa, Clara de Sousa, João Adelino Faria Broadcast simultaneously on the 3 major TV networks.
After the debate ended, a poll conducted by Aximage for Correio da Manhã newspaper said that Costa (PS) won the debate with 48% while Passos Coelho (PSD) was the winner for 35.7%. 16.3% said none of the two won.[15]
RTP Informação Catarina Martins (BE); Pedro Passos Coelho (PSD) 11 September Vítor Gonçalves
TVI24 António Costa (PS); Catarina Martins (BE) 14 September Pedro Pinto
SIC Notícias António Costa (PS); Jerónimo de Sousa (PCP) 16 September Ana Lourenço
Antena 1/Rádio Renascença/TSF António Costa (PS); Pedro Passos Coelho (PSD/CDS-PP) 17 September Graça Franco, Maria Flor Pedroso, Paulo Baldaia Broadcast simultaneously on 3 national radio stations.
TVI24 Paulo Portas (CDS-PP); Heloísa Apolónia (PEV) 18 September José Alberto Carvalho


Most voted-for political fields by district/autonomous regions: Left: Socialist Party, Left Bloc, CDU (Portuguese Communist Party and "Os Verdes"); Right: PàF (PSD/CDS-PP)

The results display a relative victory of the right-wing coalition, but they also display a combined victory of the left-wing parties (including the Socialist Party), with a hung parliament (a right-wing single winner and a left-wing majority parliament).[16][17]

 Summary of the 4 October 2015 Assembly of the Republic elections results
Parties Votes % ±pp swing MPs MPs %/
votes %
2011 2015 ± % ±
Portugal Ahead (PSD / CDS–PP)[lower-alpha 5] 1,993,50436.86Decrease10.9124102Decrease2244.35Decrease10.51.20
Socialist Party 1,747,73032.32Increase4.37486Increase1237.39Increase5.21.16
Left Bloc 550,94510.19Increase5.0819Increase118.26Increase4.80.81
Unitary Democratic Coalition 445,9018.25Increase0.41617Increase17.39Increase0.40.90
Social Democratic[lower-alpha 6] 80,8411.49 N/A75Decrease22.17Decrease0.91.45
People-Animals-Nature 75,1701.39Increase0.401Increase10.43Increase0.40.31
Democratic Republican 61,9201.13 N/A N/A0 N/A0.00 N/A0.0
Workers' Communist Party 60,0451.11Decrease0.000Steady00.00Steady0.00.0
FREE/Time to move Foward 39,3300.73 N/A N/A0 N/A0.00 N/A0.0
National Renovator Party 27,2860.50Increase0.200Steady00.00Steady0.00.0
Earth Party 22,6270.42Increase0.000Steady00.00Steady0.00.0
We, the Citizens! 21,3820.40 N/A N/A0 N/A0.00 N/A0.0
Labour / Socialist Alternative (ACT!) 20,7930.38 N/A N/A0 N/A0.00 N/A0.0
People's Monarchist 14,9160.28Increase0.000Steady00.00Steady0.00.0
Together for the People 14,2750.26 N/A N/A0 N/A0.00 N/A0.0
United Party of Retirees and Pensioners 13,8990.26 N/A N/A0 N/A0.00 N/A0.0
People's[lower-alpha 7] 7,4960.14 N/A10Decrease10.00Decrease0.40.0
People's / People's Monarchist[lower-alpha 8] 3,6240.07 N/A00Steady00.00Steady0.00.0
Christian Democratic and Citizenship 2,685 0.05Decrease0.100Steady00.00Steady0.00.0
Labour[lower-alpha 9] 1,7440.03 N/A00Steady00.00Steady0.00.0
Total valid 5,206,113 96.27 Increase0.4 230 230 Steady0 100.00 Steady0.0
Blank ballots 112,9552.09Decrease0.6
Invalid ballots 89,0241.65Increase0.3
Total (turnout 55.84%) 5,408,092 100.00 Decrease2.2
Source: Diário da República - Resultados Oficias
Vote share
Parliamentary seats

Distribution by constituency

Most voted political force by district or autonomous region.
Percentage of votes for the left-wing parties represented in the Parliament, by district or autonomous region.
 Results of the 2015 election of the Portuguese Assembly of the Republic
by constituency
Constituency%S%S%S%S%S%S Total
Azores 40.3 3 7.8 - 2.5 - 36.1 2 0.9 - 5
Aveiro 48.1 10 27.9 5 9.6 1 4.4 - 1.0 - 16
Beja 20.1 1 37.3 1 8.2 - 25.0 1 0.8 - 3
Braga 45.6 10 30.9 7 8.8 1 5.2 1 0.8 - 19
Bragança 49.4 2 34.1 1 5.5 - 3.1 - 0.6 - 3
Castelo Branco 35.3 2 38.9 2 10.0 - 6.0 - 0.8 - 4
Coimbra 37.2 4 35.3 4 9.9 1 7.0 - 1.0 - 9
EvoraÉvora 23.9 1 37.5 1 8.6 - 21.9 1 0.9 - 3
Faro 31.5 3 32.8 4 14.1 1 8.7 1 2.0 - 9
Guarda 45.6 2 33.8 2 7.4 - 4.0 - 0.9 - 4
Leiria 48.4 6 24.8 3 9.7 1 5.1 - 1.2 - 10
Lisbon 34.7 18 33.5 18 10.9 5 9.8 5 2.0 1 47
Madeira 20.9 2 10.7 1 3.6 - 37.8 3 1.8 - 6
Portalegre 27.6 1 42.4 1 9.2 - 12.2 - 0.8 - 2
Porto 39.6 17 32.7 14 11.1 5 6.8 3 1.6 - 39
Santarém 35.8 4 32.9 3 10.8 1 9.6 1 1.2 - 9
Setúbal 22.6 5 34.3 7 13.1 2 18.8 4 1.9 - 18
Viana do Castelo 45.5 4 29.8 2 8.0 - 5.2 - 0.9 - 6
Vila Real 51.0 3 33.1 2 5.2 - 3.0 - 0.6 - 5
Viseu 51.1 6 29.7 3 6.7 - 3.5 - 0.7 - 9
Europe 39.1 1 29.9 1 5.8 - 5.9 - 0.9 - 2
Rest of the World 48.5 2 10.8 - 1.6 - 1.5 - 1.8 - 2
Total 36.9 102 32.3 86 10.2 19 8.3 17 1.5 5 1.4 1 230
Source: Legislativas 2015

Government formation

The Socialists, the Left Bloc, the Communists and the Greens started negotiations to form a left-wing majority coalition government.[18][19] On 19 October 2015, the Secretary-General of the Socialist Party, António Costa, rejected the proposal for a post-election coalition government with the right-wing alliance PàF.[20] On the next day, Costa said that the Socialist Party would reject in the parliament any government that would be led by Pedro Passos Coelho and supported by the right-wing coalition Portugal Ahead. During the same day, António Costa guaranteed to President Aníbal Cavaco Silva that the Socialist Party had the conditions to form a government, supported in the parliament by the Left Bloc and the Communist Party.[21] After being consulted by the President, the Socialist Party, the Left Bloc, the Communist Party and the Greens expressed their intention to support a government of the Socialist Party, led by António Costa.

Among the most likely scenarios that were considered for a new government were:[22][23]

On 22 October, President Aníbal Cavaco Silva controversially designated Pedro Passos Coelho to form a new government,[24] which after taking the oath of office had 10 days to submit its programme in Parliament. But the PS, BE and CDU had already stated that they would call a motion of rejection to bring down the government.[25]

On 23 October, the new Assembly of the Republic was opened. Eduardo Ferro Rodrigues, a Socialist, was elected as President of the Assembly with the support of the Socialists, the Communists, the Left Bloc and the Greens. He received 120 votes against 108 votes for the government's candidate.[26]

The members of the second Passos Coelho government took the oath of office on 30 October.[27][28] The government programme was to be voted in the Parliament on 10 November.[29]

Fall of the government

The Socialist Party reached agreements with the three other left-wing parties: the Left Bloc, the Communists and the Greens. Those agreements were eventually approved by the national organs of the Socialist Party on 8 November.[30][31] On 10 November, the Portugal Ahead government programme was rejected in a vote of no confidence by a vote of 123 to 107 MPs.[32] On 26 November, a new government was established as a Socialist Party minority government led by prime minister António Costa.

See also


  1. As leader of the Social Democratic Party (PSD). The leader of the People's Party (CDS–PP) is the deputy prime minister Paulo Portas.
  2. In the 2011 election, Pedro Passos Coelho was elected in the district of Vila Real.
  3. Sum of votes and seats of the PSD and the CDS–PP in the 2011 election. PSD: 38.7%, 108 seats; CDS–PP: 11.7%, 24 seats.
  4. Pedro Passos Coelho was first designated as Prime Minister by the President of the Republic but failed to receive parliamentary support to its Government Programme, which was rejected by a motion of no confidence on a vote of 123 to 107.
  5. Electoral lists only in continental Portugal.
  6. Electoral list only in Madeira and Azores.
  7. Electoral list only in Madeira.
  8. Electoral list only in Azores.
  9. Electoral list only in Madeira.


  1. 1 2 "Cavaco Silva marca eleições legislativas para dia 4 de outubro" (in Portuguese). 22 July 2015. Retrieved 22 July 2015.
  2. "António Costa recusa coligação negativa e só viabiliza políticas do PS" (in Portuguese). 4 October 2015. Retrieved 5 October 2015.
  3. 1 2 "As cores finais do país que votou" (in Portuguese). 15 October 2015. Retrieved 26 November 2015.
  4. "PAN elege um deputado. Livre e PDR falham" (in Portuguese). 5 October 2015. Retrieved 26 November 2015.
  5. "António Costa eleito secretário-geral do PS com 96% dos votos", Jornal de Negócios, 23 November 2014. Retrieved 18 December 2014.
  6. http://app.parlamento.pt/site_antigo/ingles/cons_leg/Constitution_VII_revisao_definitive.pdf
  7. Electoral law to the Assembly of the Republic
  8. "Constitution of the Portuguese Republic" (PDF).
  9. "Effective threshold in electoral systems". Trinity College, Dublin. Retrieved 2015-10-21.
  10. Gallaher, Michael (1992). "Comparing Proportional Representation Electoral Systems: Quotas, Thresholds, Paradoxes and Majorities"
  11. "Nós, Cidadãos! é o novo partido de centro-direita".
  12. "Televisões propõem frente a frentes cruzados com todos os líderes partidários" (in Portuguese). 24 July 2015. Retrieved 24 July 2015.
  13. "Debates entre 9 e 22 de setembro. Portas fica de fora" (in Portuguese). 4 August 2015. Retrieved 4 August 2015.
  14. "Generalistas cancelam debate final referente às legislativas" (in Portuguese). 23 August 2015. Retrieved 24 August 2015.
  15. "Costa ganha debate com 48 por cento" (in Portuguese). 10 September 2015. Retrieved 10 September 2015.
  16. "Portugal election: centre-right coalition retains power but could lose majority". The Guardian. 5 October 2015. Retrieved 5 October 2015.
  17. "Loss of majority in Portuguese election a headache for coalition". The Irish Times. 5 October 2015. Retrieved 5 October 2015.
  18. "Esquerda disponível para formar Governo com PS (Left-wing parties available to form government with the Socialist Party)" (in Portuguese). RTP. 7 October 2015. Retrieved 11 October 2015.
  19. "PS desafia Bloco e PCP a clarificarem condições para formação de Governo (Socialist Party challenges the Left Bloc and the Communist Party to clarify their conditions for the formation of the government)" (in Portuguese). RTP. 7 October 2015. Retrieved 11 October 2015.
  20. (Portuguese)"Costa recusa bloco central alargado (Costa refuses extended Central Block)". Diário Económico. 19 October 2015. Retrieved 19 October 2015.
  21. "Costa desafia Cavaco a indigitá-lo primeiro-ministro (Costa defies Cavaco to appoint him Prime Minister". Diário Económico. 20 October 2015. Retrieved 22 October 2015.
  22. "Que mais nos irá acontecer? Cenários de governo e ingovernabilidade (What else will happen to us? Scenarios of government and ungovernability)" (in Portuguese). Expresso. 14 October 2015. Retrieved 19 October 2015.
  23. "Novo governo: os cenários que poderão colocar-se ao Presidente (New government: The scenarios that the President may face)" (in Portuguese). Jornal de Negócios. 12 October 2015. Retrieved 19 October 2015.
  24. http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-34611274
  25. "PS prepara moção de rejeição ao programa da coligação PSD/CDS-PP" (in Portuguese). SIC Notícias. 23 October 2015. Retrieved 23 October 2015.
  26. http://news.yahoo.com/portugal-parliament-elects-socialist-speaker-support-left-151402733.html
  27. "Passos já tomou posse" (in Portuguese). Expresso. 30 October 2015. Retrieved 9 November 2015.
  28. "Cavaco pede ao Governo "esforço de diálogo" com outras forças partidárias" (in Portuguese). Expresso. 30 October 2015. Retrieved 9 November 2015.
  29. "Programa de Governo discutido dias 9 e 10" (in Portuguese). Expresso. 28 October 2015. Retrieved 9 November 2015.
  30. "António Costa anuncia que acordo à esquerda está fechado" (in Portuguese). TVI24. 8 November 2015. Retrieved 9 November 2015.
  31. "PS mandata Costa para formalizar acordo à esquerda e rejeitar Governo" (in Portuguese). Expresso. 9 November 2015. Retrieved 9 November 2015.
  32. Angelique Chrisafis (10 November 2015). "Portuguese MPs force minority government to quit over austerity". The Guardian. Retrieved 4 December 2015.

External links

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