Social Democratic Party (Portugal)
|President||Pedro Passos Coelho|
|Secretary-General||José Matos Rosa|
|Founder||Francisco Sá Carneiro|
|Founded||6 May 1974|
|Legalized||17 January 1975|
|Youth wing||Social Democratic Youth|
|European affiliation||European People's Party|
|International affiliation||Centrist Democrat International|
|European Parliament group||European People's Party|
|Assembly of the Republic||
89 / 230
6 / 21
45 / 104
770 / 2,086
The Social Democratic Party (Portuguese: Partido Social Democrata pronounced: [pɐɾˈtiðu susiˈaɫ dɨmuˈkɾatɐ]), is a liberal-conservative and liberal political party in Portugal. It is commonly known by its colloquial initials, PSD; on ballot papers, its initials appear as its official form PPD/PSD, with the first three letters coming from the party's original name.
The party was founded as the Democratic People's Party (Partido Popular Democrata, PPD) in 1974, two weeks after the Carnation Revolution. In 1979, it allied with centre-right parties to form the Democratic Alliance, and won that year's election. After the 1983 election, the party formed a grand coalition with the Socialist Party (PS), known as the Central Bloc, before winning the election under new leader Aníbal Cavaco Silva in 1985. Cavaco Silva served as Prime Minister for ten years, instituting major economic liberalisation and winning two landslide victories. After he stepped down, the PSD lost the 1995 election. The party was returned to power under José Manuel Durão Barroso in 2002, but was defeated in the 2005 election. The current leader, Pedro Passos Coelho, was elected on 26 March 2010, and became Prime Minister about a year later. The party won a plurality in the 2015 legislative election, winning 107 seats in Assembly of the Republic in alliance with the People's Party (CDS-PP).
Originally a party of social democracy, the PSD became over time the major party of the centre-right in Portugal. The PSD is a member of the European People's Party (EPP) and the Centrist Democrat International. Until 1996 the PSD belonged to the European Liberal Democrat and Reform Party (ELDR) and the Liberal International.
The party publishes the weekly Povo Livre (Free People) newspaper.
The Social Democratic Party was born on 6 May 1974, when Francisco Sá Carneiro, Francisco Pinto Balsemão and Joaquim Magalhães Mota publicly announced the formation of what was then called the PPD, the Democratic People's Party (Portuguese: Partido Popular Democrático). On 15 May, the party's first headquarters were inaugurated in Largo do Rato, Lisbon. This was followed, on 24 June, by the formation of the first Political Committee, consisting of Francisco Sá Carneiro, Francisco Pinto Balsemão, Joaquim Magalhães Mota, Barbosa de Melo, Mota Pinto, Montalvão Machado, Miguel Veiga, Ferreira Júnior, António Carlos Lima, António Salazar Silva, Jorge Correia da Cunha, Jorge Figueiredo Dias and Jorge Sá Borges.
The Povo Livre publication was founded, its first issue being published on 13 July 1974, led by its first two directors, Manuel Alegria and Rui Machete. The PPD's first major meeting was held in the "Pavilhão dos Desportos", Lisbon, on 25 October, and a month later the party's first official congress took place.
On 17 January 1975, 6300 signatures were sent to the Supreme Court so that the party could be approved as a legitimate political entity, which happened a mere eight days later.
Cavaco Silva government
The Social Democratic Party participated in a number of coalition governments in Portugal between 1974 and 1976, following the Carnation Revolution. This is seen as a transitional period in Portuguese politics, in which political institutions were built and took time to stabilize. In 1979, the PSD formed an electoral alliance, known as the Democratic Alliance (AD), with the Democratic and Social Centre (now called the People's Party, CDS-PP) and a couple of smaller right-wing parties. The AD won the parliamentary elections towards the end of 1979, and the PSD leader, Francisco Sá Carneiro, became Prime Minister. The AD increased its parliamentary majority in new elections called for 1980, but was devastated by the death of Sá Caneiro in an air crash on 4 December 1980. Francisco Pinto Balsemão took over the leadership of both the Social Democratic Party and the Democratic Alliance, as well as the Prime Ministership, but lacking Sá Carneiro's charisma, he was unable to rally popular support.
The Democratic Alliance was dissolved in 1983, and in parliamentary elections that year, the PSD lost to the Socialist Party (PS). Falling short of a majority, however, the Socialists formed a grand coalition, known as the Central Bloc, with the PSD. Many right-wingers in the PSD, including Aníbal Cavaco Silva, opposed participation in the PS-led government, and so, when Cavaco Silva was elected leader of the party on 2 June 1985, the coalition was doomed.
The PSD won a plurality (but not a majority) in the general election of 1985, and Cavaco Silva became Prime Minister. Economic liberalization and tax cuts ushered in several years of economic growth, and early elections held in 1987 resulted in a landslide victory for the PSD, who captured 50.2% percent of the popular vote and 148 of the 250 parliamentary seats – the first time that any political party had mustered an absolute majority in a free election. They won the 1991 election almost as easily, but continuing high levels of unemployment eroded the popularity of the Cavaco Silva government. Cavaco Silva stepped down as leader in 1995 and the PSD lost the 1995 election.
The party lost the 1999 elections. They made a comeback in 2002, however: despite falling short of a majority, the PSD won enough seats to form a coalition with the CDS-PP, and the PSD leader, José Manuel Durão Barroso, became Prime Minister. Durão Barroso later resigned his post to become President of the European Commission, leaving the way for Pedro Santana Lopes, a man with whom he was frequently at odds, to become leader of the party and Prime Minister.
In the parliamentary election held on 20 February 2005, Santana Lopes led the PSD to its worst defeat since 1983. With a negative swing of more than 12% percent, the party won only 75 seats, a loss of 30. The rival Socialist Party had won an absolute majority, and remained in government after the 2009 parliamentary election, albeit without an absolute majority, leaving the PSD in opposition.
The PSD-supported candidate Aníbal Cavaco Silva won the Portuguese presidential elections in 2006 and again in 2011.
In the European Parliament election held on 7 June 2009, the PSD defeated the governing socialists, capturing 31.7% of the popular vote and electing eight MEPs, while the Socialist Party only won 26.5% of the popular vote and elected seven MEPs.
Although this was expected to be a "redrawing of the electoral map", the PSD was still defeated later that year, though the PS lost its majority.
Growing popular disenchantment with the government's handling of the economic crisis coupled with the government's inability to secure the support of other parties to implement the necessary reforms to address the crisis forced the Socialist Party Prime Minister José Sócrates to resign, leading to fresh elections on 5 June 2011. The PSD, led by Pedro Passos Coelho, won the elections by a wide margin over the Socialists capturing 38,6% of the votes while the socialists captured only 28%, though they fell short of an absolute majority. The PSD formed a coalition with the CDS-PP and formed government, with Passos Coelho as Prime Minister, and the widest majority in the history of the Portuguese Parliament since the 1991 majority also held by the PSD.
The PSD is frequently referred to as a party that is not ideology-based but rather a "power party" ("partido do poder"). It frequently adopts a functional big tent party strategy to win elections. Due to this strategy, which most trace to Cavaco Silva's leadership, the party is made up of many factions, mostly centre-right (including liberal democrats, Christian democrats and neoconservatives) as well as quasi-social-democrats and former Communists:
- Portuguese social democrats: the main faction when the party was created, throughout the party's history rightist politicians joined them to have a greater chance of gaining power and influencing the country's politics (see Liberals, Conservatives, Right-wing populists and Neoliberals). They don't follow traditional social democracy but "Portuguese social democracy" as defined by Sá Carneiro's actions and writings, which includes a degree of centrist and leftist populism. They followed a kind of anti-class struggle party/cross-class party strategy. All the other members of the party claim to follow this line. Among its representatives were most of the leaders between Francisco Sá Carneiro and Cavaco Silva, Alberto João Jardim (also a founding member and an anti-neoliberal) and to an extent Luís Filipe Menezes (who called the PSD the "moderate left party", identified himself with a centre-left matrix and a united left strategy and defended a more open party on issues like abortion.) José Mendes Bota is another left-wing populist. The Portuguese social-democrats are centered around the Grupo da Boavista (Boavista Group).
- European-style social-democrats: follow traditional social democracy. They share with the Portuguese social democrats their presence at the creation of the party and "a non-Marxist progressivist line". Many of them (former party leader António Sousa Franco, party co-founder Magalhães Mota, writer and feminist Natália Correia) supported the Opções Inadiáveis (Pressing Options) manifesto, and then left to create the Independent Social Democrat Association (Associação Social Democrata Independente, ASDI) and the Social Democrat Movement (Movimento Social Democrata, MSD), forming electoral coalitions (later fusioning to) the Socialist Party during the 1970s–1980s. Some took part in the Democratic Renovator Party. A later example of a European-style Social democrat leaving the party for the Socialists is activist and politician Helena Roseta. The ones still in the party adapted to its current right-wing outlook or Portuguese social democracy. They today include former communists-turned centre-leftists, like Zita Seabra. Durão Barroso might have moved from Thatcherism to social democracy. Ironically, both Social Democrat factions were represented in the 2008 party elections by Manuela Ferreira Leite, economically neoliberal and socially conservative (often compared to Thatcher).
- Agrarianism: the other main faction at creation. The PSD was always more successful in the Northern and rural areas of the country. When Sousa Franco and his SPD-inspired social democrats started their break with the rest of the party he referred to a division between "a rural wing, led by Sá Carneiro, and an urban wing, more moderate and truly social democratic, close to the positions of Helmut Schmidt" Due to the electoral influence of ruralism on the PSD's politics they may be seen inside of or influencing most factions.
- Liberals (Classical and Social): due to the Salazarist connotation of the term “right-wing” (and all terms connected: “liberal”, “conservative”, etc.) after the Carnation Revolution, the little atractiveness of economic liberalism in European politics, no specific Liberal or Conservative parties were formed in post-1974 Portugal, except the experiences of the Catholic Action-monarchist Liberal Party in 1974 and the centrist liberal Democratic Renovator Party, so they started working inside the PSD. This strategy of joining “socialism and liberalism under the same hat” was especially successful during Cavaco Silva’s leadership, when the party gave up its candidacy to the Socialist International and became member of the Liberal International and European Liberal Democrat and Reform Party (ELDR) and Liberal and Democratic Reformist Group, leaving the international and the European party and group in 1996 to join the Christian Democrat International (today Centrist Democrat International), the European People's Party and the European People's Party-European Democrats. Since then the Liberal-Social democrat rift (or even the Liberal-Conservative-Populist-Social democrat rift) has plagued the party’s cohesion and actions. Durão Barroso (a former revolutionary Maoist who switched sides in the 1980s) is sometimes referred to as the most pure liberal of the party. In terms of social liberals, some try to link both social democracy and social liberalism to the PSD, to refer to the early PSD as liberal or partly social liberal party, and social liberalism is sometimes identified with the social market economy tradition the party traditionally supported. Even members of the Portuguese Social Liberal Movement admit the traditional and current presence of social liberals (and other liberals) on the PSD.
- Christian democrats and Social Christians: some claim the PSD as the party from Christian democracy and social Christianity from the beginning, or having these currents as part of its legacy. Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa is one of the main preachers of Social Christianity inside the PSD. As is Paulo Rangel.
- Right-wing populists: Distinct from Radical right-wing populists, the populist centre and centre-left social democrats (like João Jardim and Sá Carneiro), the populist overlapers (like Cavaco Silva), and the euro-skeptic populists of the Democratic and Social Centre–People’s Party (CDS-PP). They are social-economic liberal conservative/conservative liberal and moderate, culturally religious conservatives and internationalist national conservatives. Their main representative is Pedro Santana Lopes. Though the main right-wing populists were present at the founding of the party (like Santana Lopes), they were clearly right-wing, recruited when their abilities were noticed in educated circles and universities, with minor agreements with Sá Carneiro's philosophy. Frequently, as the PSD is a bipartisanship party, right-wing populists from the CDS-PP join the party. Luís Filipe Meneses is frequently described as a populist but he tried to lead the party back to a “left” line, and doesn’t identify or act like the liberal conservative/conservative liberal populists.
- Conservatives: with the post-revolutionary opposition to the right (see above in liberal) no specific Conservative party was founded in Portugal; conservatives acted inside the CDS-PP and the PSD. Frequently linked with the Neoliberals, pure conservatives are rare in the party, as the usual partisan or politician of the party is economically moderate but socially conservative. One of the rare exceptions of a pure conservative in this party was former party member and MP Vasco Pulido Valente, who is highly elitist and a cultural purist (unlike most of the party's partisans, who have various degrees of populism or meritocratism), highly conservative and traditionalist.
- Neoconservatives: mostly former communists and leftists who supported the policies of the Bush Administration and defend similar views in Portuguese politics. The main example is José Pacheco Pereira (though his support of the Bush doctrine on the Invasion of Iraq is sometimes challenged. They are frequently referred to as "Cavaco-ists" due to their support of cavacoism's legacy and candidates representative of it, like Cavaco Silva himself and Ferreira Leite, defending the position that they should take a hard stance on the Left and its social liberalism).
- Neoliberals: Neoliberal tendencies were introduced in Portuguese economy by Cavaco Silva, removing socialism from the constitution and finishing the de-collectivization of the economy started with Sá Carneiro. Cavaco (a self-described Neo-Keynesian) never employed a totally Reaganite or Thatcherite strategy, maintaining a social democrat matrix and many (right and left-wing) populist and neo-Keynesian policies. Alberto João Jardim described the inconsistent neoliberalism of the PSD: “those Chicago Boys have some funny ideas, but when election time arrives the old Keynesianism is still what counts”. Cavaco Silva and Durão Barroso are both sometimes referred to as the closest to neo-liberal leaders of the party. The main pure representative of the streak is Manuela Ferreira Leite, but even she called herself a «social democrat» and explained «I'm not certainly liberal, I'm also not populist» and lead the social democratic factions during internal party rifts, though she accepts the nickname "Portuguese iron lady" and comparisons to Thatcher if «[it] means (...) an enormous intransigence on values and in principles, of not abdicating from these values and from these principles and of continuing my way independently of the popularity of my actions and the effects on my image». The main group (officially non-partisan) associated with the neoliberal faction of the PSD is the Projecto Farol (Lighthouse Project).
- Overlappers: the average PSD voter and partisan since Cavaco Silva’s leadership. Cavaco himself, though a self-described Neo-Keynesian, an early member of the party since its centre-left days and a man with social liberal and centrist populist economic policy tendencies, he is personally a conservative (opposing same-sex marriage and abortion) and a practicing Catholic. As such Cavacoism should be considered a "hybrid" or a political syncretism. A similar case is Vasco Graça Moura, who claims to be an economic social democrat but opposes gay people serving in the military and is a self-described "centre-left reactionary". The overlappers are mainly represented in the forums gathered by the District of Oporto section of the party, which during the 2009 European elections tried to gather the ideas of all factions.
- Centrists: not to be confused with overlapers. Still indecisive between (traditional or Portuguese) social democracy, social liberalism or any other kind of centrism.
- Transversalists: are pragmatic and not strict on ideological issues. Although open to privatization and civil society alternatives to the social state, in speech they move closer to the centre-left origins of the party and proud of them. The main representative of this faction is Pedro Passos Coelho, who claims to be neither left nor right but that "the real issues are between old and new", though his opponents identified him as a liberal (in the conservative-liberal or neo-liberal European senses) since the 2008 party election, though he recalled the many meanings of liberal and recalled the Left liberalism of the United States Democratic Party, being even called "PSD's Obama" by supporters. Centrists and transversalists inside the party share the think tank Construir Ideias (Building Ideas), which Passos Coelho founded and leads. They mix (like the closely allied centrists) calls to privatization with others to more social justice, government regulation and arbitration and strategic governmental involvement in the economy. This faction is in constant rift with the more socially right-wing ones (who have been leading the party for a long time) and also with the overlappers whose hybridness they refuse, over the future of the party and its future ideological and philosophical alignments.
Assembly of the Republic
|Election||Assembly of the Republic||Government||Size||Leader|
81 / 250
|Constituent assembly||2nd||Francisco Sá Carneiro|
73 / 263
|8||Opposition||2nd||Francisco Sá Carneiro|
|1979||w. Democratic Alliance||
80 / 250
|7||Majority gov't||1st||Francisco Sá Carneiro|
|1980||w. Democratic Alliance||
82 / 250
|2||Majority gov't||1st||Francisco Sá Carneiro|
75 / 250
|7|| Central Bloc gov't
|2nd||Carlos Mota Pinto|
88 / 250
|13||Minority gov't||1st||Aníbal Cavaco Silva|
148 / 250
|60||Majority gov't||1st||Aníbal Cavaco Silva|
135 / 230
|13||Majority gov't||1st||Aníbal Cavaco Silva|
88 / 230
81 / 230
|7||Opposition||2nd||José Manuel Durão Barroso|
105 / 230
|24|| Coalition gov't
|1st||José Manuel Durão Barroso|
75 / 230
|30||Opposition||2nd||Pedro Santana Lopes|
81 / 230
|6||Opposition||2nd||Manuela Ferreira Leite|
108 / 230
|27|| Coalition gov't
|1st||Pedro Passos Coelho|
|2015||w. Portugal Ahead||
89 / 230
|19||Opposition||1st||Pedro Passos Coelho|
10 / 24
|1st||Pedro Santana Lopes|
9 / 24
9 / 25
|0||2nd||Eurico de Melo|
9 / 25
|0||2nd||José Pacheco Pereira|
|2004||w. Força Portugal||
7 / 24
|2||2nd||João de Deus Pinheiro|
8 / 22
|2014||w. Aliança Portugal||
6 / 21
List of leaders
- Joaquim Magalhães Mota (1976–1978; as President)
- Sérvulo Correia (1978; as President)
- Amândio de Azevedo (1978–1979; as President)
- António Capucho (1979–1984; as President until 1983)
- Antunes da Silva (1984–1985)
- Dias Loureiro (1985–1990)
- Falcão e Cunha (1990–1992)
- Nunes Liberato (1992–1995)
- Azevedo Soares (1995–1996)
- Rui Rio (1996–1997)
- Horta e Costa (1997–1998)
- António Capucho (1998)
- Torres Pereira (1998–1999)
- José Luís Arnaut (1999–2004)
- Miguel Relvas (2004–2005)
- Miguel Macedo (2005–2007)
- Ribau Esteves (2007–2008)
- Luís Marques Guedes (2008–2010
- Miguel Relvas (2010–2011)
- José Matos Rosa (2011–)
Prime ministers of the Republic
- Francisco Sá Carneiro : 1979–1980
- Francisco Pinto Balsemão : 1981–1983
- Aníbal Cavaco Silva : 1985–1995
- José Manuel Durão Barroso : 2002–2004
- Pedro Santana Lopes : 2004–2005
- Pedro Passos Coelho : 2011–2015
Presidents of the Republic
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Partido Social Democrata - Partido Popular Democrático.|
- Social Democratic Party – official website (Portuguese)