Portuguese President dissolves Parliament and announces elections for January 30

5 Nov 2021
Fuente: Pedro Fiuza / ZUMA Wire / Dpa

The President of the Portuguese Republic has taken the decision to dissolve the Parliament and call early legislative elections for the 30th January 2022. The announcement was made on Thursday night in a televised communication. The President justified the decision by affirming the clear loss of support to the Government from the left parties: “We could all do without another election, but it is the only way to resolve the uncertainty, the instability. It is the only way to allow the Portuguese to decide what they want for the coming years.”

For the President, early parliamentary elections in late Ja Guardar y salir nuary will avoid the televised debates and the political campaign to occur during Christmas and New Year’s Eve time, which would lead to abstention growth.

Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa’s decision was announced after hearing the Council of State the day before, which issued an opinion favourable to the dissolution by majority vote. The opinion was not binding, though the President was constitutionally obliged to consult the Council of State before making a decision.

This is an expected decision, taking into account the public statements that the President repeated facing the deadlock in the State Budget negotiations between the Government and the parliamentary forces on the left, the Portuguese Communist Party (PCP) and the Left Block (BE), which proved unsuccessful and led to the rejection of the Budget proposal in the first vote. The President himself assumed in this announcement he was “explicit” in his intentions.

In the last few days, the debate has revolved around how soon the President should call for elections, taking into account the upcoming festive period and also the moment of internal uncertainty in the right-wing parties.

While the Social Democrats are expected to have elections on the 4th December, Francisco Rodrigues dos Santos, president of the Christian-Democrat Party (CDS-PP), has already postponed the elective congress until after the elections, a decision that has provoked harsh internal criticism and even caused the departure of several historical personalities from the party.

The new elections, given the present turmoil in PSD and CDS-PP, could favour other forces on the right, such as the far-right party Chega, currently with only one deputy, and the Liberal Initiative.

Both political analysts and the latest polls point to António Costa as the winner of the early general elections, but far from an absolute majority. This means that the current Prime Minister may be forced to look for new parliamentary support to provide stability to the government, a process that is likely to be difficult with the former partners on the left (PCP and BE), after having lost their support in the State Budget vote. It is also likely that the two parties, according to polls, will lose electoral expression.

The negotiation may be more or less long, since the Portuguese Constitution does not impose any limit or post-election deadline for the new Government to take office. The President has already signalled that, with elections in January, he expects to have a government in place by the end of February.

It should be noted that until the elections, the current government will remain in function. The primary restriction is that laws that have to pass through Parliament cannot be approved, as is the case of changes in income tax brackets, a measure that was included in the rejected State Budget proposal.

Next steps:

  • According to the constitutional calendar, the dissolution of the Parliament must take place between November 28th and December 1st.
  • The largest opposition party, the Social-Democrat Party (PSD), has internal elections scheduled for December 4th. The leader elected on this day will have little time to define the lists of MPs for the new legislature that will start after the early elections. The calendar set by the Portuguese President may displease Paulo Rangel, challenger of current PSD president Rui Rio, who wanted the elections to take place only in late February.
  • The electoral campaign will start on mid-January.

Maria Eça

Client Services Director

Maria is responsible for the Public Affairs and Crisis&Risks areas in LLYC in Portugal, working with clients from the banking and insurance sector, health, online gambling and retail. She is advising companies such as Leroy Merlin, Liberty Seguros and Unilever. She has also participated in M&A and foreign investment projects.

With over 8 years’ experience as a journalist, specializing in economics and society, Maria worked at TVI (private television), where she had the chance to follow and report Portugal’s key issues and relevant news about the main companies operating in the country, on a daily basis.