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3 young Portuguese people react to their country’s socialist victory

This week’s election result saw the Socialist Party leader, António Costa, secure a strong mandate

The state of UK politics is nothing short of shambolic. Since the Tories have been in power, we’ve seen a rise in the cost of living and a decrease in wages. We’ve also had one Prime Minister reportedly stick his dick in a pig while our present Prime Minister is currently grappling with allegations of numerous illegal lockdown parties. All in all, it’s not been a great few years on this sad, grey, little island.

But globally, things are looking up. Last year, Donald Trump finally left the White House. Chilean politician Gabriel Boric, leader of the left-wing Social Convergence party, was elected as the country’s youngest-ever president in December. Most recently, on Monday Portugal's ruling Socialist Party won an outright majority.

The election was called after Prime Minister António Costa’s minority government lost the support of the Portuguese Communist Party and the Left Bloc during negotiations over the 2022 budget. The result – which has secured Costa a powerful mandate – came as a surprise after recent polls suggested that the Socialist Party had lost most of their advantage. 

Just after 1am on Monday January 31, the Socialist Party was confirmed to have won 117 seats in the 230 seat parliament, up from 108 won in the 2019 election. Notably – and worryingly – the far-right party Chega also increased its seat count to 12, up from just 1 won in 2019.

When the result was announced, Costa’s supporters celebrated by singing the old revolutionary anthem, ‘Grandola’. Speaking in his victory speech, Costa said: “An absolute majority doesn’t mean absolute power. It doesn’t mean to govern alone. It’s an increased responsibility and it means to govern with and for all Portuguese.”

Dazed caught up with three young Portuguese people to ask what the election result means to them.

Sofia, 28, researcher

“I am truly happy about the socialist win last night. Over the past six years, the Prime Minister António Costa was able to give back workers’ rights that had been held back during the troika [austerity] times and make our economy grow again. Over the last two years he led us through the pandemic, making sure our health system was able to fight back and also making sure the economy would bounce back quickly. For instance, he supported companies so that they wouldn’t need to fire their employees. Now I am grateful that he will have the opportunity to apply new public policies and the strategic vision he has for the country to grow even more.

However, I am also concerned with the number of MPs elected from the far-right party, Chega. I hope people will see that their presence in the Parliament is not a helpful one and will stop voting for them in future elections.”

Bruno, 25, researcher

“I am a Socialist Party supporter so I was happy with the result, but also quite surprised because in the last few days of the campaign all the opinion polls that came out were showing a very narrow margin between the Socialists and the Social Democrats – a right-wing political party. The possibility of a right-wing coalition was very real according to the opinion polls, and that proved absolutely wrong, so I was quite happy with the result.

It was a clear sign from the Portuguese people that they wanted stability and a strong government. It was a clear sign saying: this is what we want. Yes, there are flaws, but we trust Mr. Costa, we trust the Socialist Party, and we trust this government that has led us through very, very difficult times. I believe no one was really expecting an absolute majority in parliament. We have a proportional system of electing MPs, it’s not like the UK, so it’s very, very hard for a political party to have a majority, and no one was expecting that. But this result proved very clearly what the population had in mind.

But we have a problem because we have also seen the rise of a far-right party. I believe they elected 12 new MPs. One of them was a right-wing terrorist during the transition to democracy in Portugal in the 70s. It will be very interesting to watch them in Parliament.”

Bárbara, 24, science communicator

“It is great to see that more people voted this year than in the last election in 2019, and to see that increase in interest, even though it’s still far from ideal – I mean, almost 50 per cent of our country doesn’t really vote. So it is better, but still not perfect.

Also, I think it’s a shame that our parliament will now have fewer female MPs. Around 37 per cent of our parliament is composed of women, so we don’t have as much equality as I think would be ideal. And while there’s this clear evidence that the Portuguese people do believe in socialism because the Socialist Party have a majority, the fact that the far right is ascending creeps me out. It is quite frightening: we had a dictatorship 50 years ago and there’s still the memory of that in the people who walk the streets with us. The far right party, Chega, literally quotes our previous dictators, so I do think it’s frightening to see this increase.”