1976 Portuguese legislative election


The Portuguese legislative election of 1976 took place on 25 April, exactly one year after the previous election, and two years after the Carnation Revolution. With a new Constitution approved, the country's main aim was economic recovery and strengthening its democratic institutions. The election renewed all 263 members of the Assembly of the Republic.

1976 Portuguese legislative election

 1975 25 April 1976 1979 

263 seats to the Portuguese Assembly
132 seats needed for a majority
Registered6,564,667 5.4%
Turnout5,483,461 (83.5%)
8.2 pp
  First party Second party Third party
 
Leader Mário Soares Francisco Sá Carneiro Diogo Freitas do Amaral
Party PS PPD CDS
Leader since 19 April 1973 6 May 1974 19 July 1974
Leader's seat Lisbon[1] Porto[2] Lisbon
Last election 116 seats, 37.9% 81 seats, 26.4% 16 seats, 7.6%
Seats won 107 73 42
Seat change 9 8 26
Popular vote 1,912,921 1,335,381 876,007
Percentage 34.9% 24.4% 15.9%
Swing 3.0 pp 2.0 pp 8.4 pp

  Fourth party Fifth party
 
Leader Álvaro Cunhal Acácio Barreiros
Party PCP UDP
Leader since 31 March 1961 1976
Leader's seat Lisbon Lisbon
Last election 30 seats, 12.5% 1 seat, 0.8%
Seats won 40 1
Seat change 10 0
Popular vote 788,830 91,690
Percentage 14.4% 1.7%
Swing 1.9 pp 0.9 pp


Prime Minister before election

Vasco de Almeida e Costa (interim)
Independent

Elected Prime Minister

Mário Soares
PS

The Socialist Party won a plurality of votes, almost 35%, and legislative seats, and its leader Mário Soares became the Prime Minister of the 1st Constitutional government on 23 July 1976. The lack of a socialist majority forced his party to form an unexpected coalition with the Democratic and Social Center, a right-wing party. The nature of this coalition, between a socialist party and a conservative party that voted against the new constitution because of its socialist influences, surprised most Portuguese voters and marked the start of the Socialist Party's right-wing turn that would soon be attacked by all the left due to the new government's measures against left-wing reforms following the Carnation Revolution, mainly concerning agrarian reform, in what was called the PS' putting "Socialism in the drawer".[3]

The Social Democratic Party (then known as the Democratic People's Party, PPD) won the second most votes and seats, 24% of the votes, but polled 10 points below the PS. The Portuguese Communist Party (PCP) achieved considerable gains that reflected its growing influence, mainly in the south of the country, gaining 14% of the votes. The big surprise in the elections was the strong showing of the Democratic and Social Center (CDS), which polled ahead of PCP and gathered 16% of the votes. Only 19 years later, in 1995, would the CDS surpasse the PCP in number of votes.

Voter turnout fell to 83.5%, compared with the 91.7% just a year before.

Background


Vasco Gonçalves.
Mural in support for Vasco Gonçalves.

The previous elections, held on April 25, 1975, elected a new assembly to write a new Constitution. The election results gave the two main moderate parties (PS and PPD) a clear majority in Parliament, with almost 38% for the PS and more than 26% for the PPD. The PCP achieved a weak result, just 12.5%, while the CDS polled ahead of the MDP. The election results started a conflict of legitimacy between parties, the Armed Forces Movement and the Revolutionary Council. It was the start of the Ongoing Revolutionary Process, which culminated in the "Hot summer of 1975".

On May 1, 1975, the PS and the PCP held separate rallies and some violent clashes occurred between PS and PCP supporters.[4] A few days later, in what was called "The República case", far-left supporters invaded the headquarters of República newspaper. The reason was a strike by the typographers and other workers, many close to the far-left UDP, accusing the editorial board of being too aligned with the PS.[5] The case drew widespread international attention, and the PS started a full blown attack against the PCP and Prime Minister Vasco Gonçalves government.

Positions become extreme as Vasco Gonçalves led the Ongoing Revolutionary Process. He started facing big opposition from the so-called "reactionaries", (the Catholic Church, groups close to the former Estado Novo regime and, unofficially, from the PS, PPD and CDS.), therefore, Vasco Gonçalves continued and forced his Democratic socialism policies with the nationalization of huge parts of the Portuguese economy.[6]

By the beginning of the summer of 1975, the country was deeply divided. The "Hot summer of 1975" was starting. During this period, huge clashes between left and right supporters spread all across the country, some with big violence. The possibility of the country entering in a full blown Civil war was feared by many.[7] On 19 July 1975, the PS held a massive rally in Lisbon, with the help of the Catholic Church and others, to fight against the PCP and Vasco Gonçalves government. Mário Soares, PS leader, accused the Gonçalves government, and those who support it, of being "Paranoids", "Demented" and "Irresponsibles who do not represent the Portuguese people".[8]

During the summer of 1975, headquarters of the PCP, and other left-wing parties, in many cities in the North and Center of the country were vandalized and destroyed. Many leftwing supporters were also violently beaten by anti-left protesters.[9] The violence and increased tensions across the country were damaging Vasco Gonçalves leadership in the government and divisions between the Armed Forces Movement and the Revolutionary Council were starting to show. When COPCON commander, Otelo Saraiva de Carvalho, withdrew his support from Gonçalves, the government was on its last days. On 20 September, Gonçalves leaves the government and Pinheiro de Azevedo is nominated as Prime Minister.[10] Shortly after, on 26 September, the assault of the Spanish embassy in Lisbon by far-left supporters, in retaliation to the attacks on left-wing parties headquarters in the North and Center, drew widespread attention as it was broadcast by US network CBS.[11]

The new government was unable to control the tensions in the country and by mid November the government made the extraordinary announcement that they were on strike because there were no conditions to govern the country.[12] Just before this announcement, construction workers unions surrounded Parliament and blocked MPs from leaving the building for two days.[13]

All of this culminated in the events of the Coup of 25 November 1975. The coup was an attempted by left-wing activists who hoped to hijack the Portuguese transition to democracy in favor of Communists. The coup failed and shortly after a counter-coup led by Ramalho Eanes, a pro-democracy moderate, and supported by PS leader Mário Soares, re-established the democratic process.[14]

By March 1976, the Constitutional Assembly finally drafted the Constitution text and was sent to approval in April 1976. The Constitution draft was heavily ideological, with many references to Socialism and with many phrases that echoed Karl Marx's Communist Manifesto. On 2 April 1976, the new Constitution was approved with the votes of all parties with the exception of CDS, which voted against citing the ideological content of the document. However, the party agreed to abide by it in the interim.[15]

Electoral system


The Assembly of the Republic has 263 members elected to four-year terms. The total number of MPs increased to 263 from the 1975 total of 250 MPs. 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 132 (absolute majority) for both the Government's Programme to be rejected or for a motion of no confidence to be approved.[16]

The number of seats assigned to each district depends on the district magnitude.[17] The use of the d'Hondt method makes for a higher effective threshold than certain other allocation methods such as the Hare quota or Sainte-Laguë method, which are more generous to small parties.[18]

For these elections, and compared with the 1975 elections, the MPs distributed by districts were the following:[19]

DistrictNumber of MPs
Lisbon58 (+3)
Porto38 (+2)
Setúbal17 (+1)
Braga15
Aveiro15 (+1)
Santarém13
Coimbra12
Leiria11
Viseu11 (+1)
Faro9
Castelo Branco7
Viana do Castelo7 (+1)
Vila Real7 (+1)
Funchal6
Beja6
Évora6 (+1)
Guarda6
Bragança5 (+1)
Portalegre4
Ponta Delgada3
Angra do Heroísmo2
Europe2 (new)
Outside Europe2 (new)
Horta1

Parties


The table below lists the parties represented in the Assembly of the Republic during the during the Constitutional Assembly (1975-1976) and that also, some, contested the elections:

Name Ideology Political position Leader 1975 result
Votes (%) Seats
PS Socialist Party
Partido Socialista
Social democracy Centre-left Mário Soares 37.9%
116 / 250
PPD Democratic People's Party
Partido Popular Democrático
Portuguese social democracy Centre Francisco Sá Carneiro 26.4%
81 / 250
PCP Portuguese Communist Party
Partido Comunista Português
Communism
Marxism–Leninism
Far-left Álvaro Cunhal 12.5%
30 / 250
CDS Democratic and Social Center
Centro Democrático e Social
Christian democracy
Neoliberalism
Centre-right
to right-wing
Diogo Freitas do Amaral 7.6%
16 / 250
MDP/CDE[lower-alpha 1] Portuguese Democratic Movement
Movimento Democrático Português
Left-wing nationalism
Democratic socialism
Left-wing José Manuel Tengarrinha 4.1%
5 / 250
UDP Popular Democratic Union
União Democrática Popular
Marxism
Socialism
Left-wing Mário Tomé 0.8%
1 / 250
ADIM[lower-alpha 1] Independent Democratic Association of Macau
Associação para a Defesa dos Interesses de Macau
Conservatism
Macau interests
Right-wing Diamantino Ferreira 0.0%
1 / 250

Campaign period


Party slogans

Party or alliance Original slogan English translation Refs
PS « Queremos e podemos reconstruir o país » "We want and we can rebuild the country" [20]
PPD « Portugal com Sá Carneiro » "Portugal with Sá Carneiro" [21]
PCP « Para uma maioria de esquerda » "For a left-wing majority" [22]
CDS « A resposta é muito simples » "The answer is very simple" [23]

National summary of votes and seats


Summary of the 25 April 1976 Assembly of the Republic elections results
Parties Votes % ± Seats MPs %/
votes %
1975 1976 ± % ±
Socialist 1,912,92134.893.0116107940.685.71.17
Democratic People's 1,335,38124.352.08173827.764.61.14
Democratic and Social Centre 876,00715.988.416422615.979.61.00
Communist 788,83014.391.930401015.213.21.06
People's Democratic Union 91,6901.670.91100.380.00.23
People's Socialist Front 42,1620.770.40000.000.00.0
Portuguese Workers' Communist 36,2000.66N/AN/A0N/A0.00N/A0.0
Movement of Socialist Left 31,3320.570.40000.000.00.0
Christian Democratic 29,8740.54N/AN/A0N/A0.00N/A0.0
People's Monarchist 28,3200.520.10000.000.00.0
Internationalist Communist League 16,2690.300.10000.000.00.0
Communist Party (Marxist–Leninist) 15,8300.29N/AN/A0N/A0.00N/A0.0
Worker-Peasant Alliance 15,7780.29N/AN/A0N/A0.00N/A0.0
Workers' Revolutionary 5,1710.09N/AN/A0N/A0.00N/A0.0
Total valid 5,225,765 95.30 2.3 250[lower-alpha 1] 263 13 100.00 0.0
Invalid ballots 257,6964.702.3
Total 5,483,461 100.00
Registered voters/turnout 6,564,66783.538.2
Source: Comissão Nacional de Eleições
Vote share
PS
34.89%
PPD
24.35%
CDS
15.98%
PCP
14.39%
UDP
1.67%
FSP
0.77%
MRPP
0.66%
MES
0.57%
PDC
0.54%
PPM
0.52%
Others
0.97%
Blank/Invalid
4.70%
Parliamentary seats
PS
40.68%
PPD
27.76%
CDS
15.97%
PCP
15.51%
UDP
0.38%

Distribution by constituency

Results of the 1976 election of the Portuguese Assembly of the Republic
by constituency
Constituency%S%S%S%S%S Total
S
PS PPD CDS PCP UDP
Angra do Heroísmo 30.4 1 51.8 1 12.1 - 1.5 - 2
Aveiro 30.8 5 35.2 6 22.5 4 3.7 - 0.9 - 15
Beja 32.0 2 8.2 - 4.2 - 44.0 4 2.2 - 6
Braga 32.3 6 28.6 5 21.2 4 4.2 - 1.0 - 15
Bragança 22.6 1 33.3 2 28.3 2 2.7 - 0.8 - 5
Castelo Branco 36.4 3 22.6 2 19.9 2 6.7 - 1.1 - 7
Coimbra 40.9 6 26.7 4 12.5 1 7.3 1 1.2 - 12
Évora 30.3 2 9.2 - 8.0 - 43.2 4 2.6 - 6
Faro 44.6 6 19.3 2 6.8 - 14.5 1 2.6 - 9
Funchal 24.9 1 53.0 4 13.3 1 1.5 - 1.3 - 6
Guarda 25.2 2 25.7 2 32.1 2 2.9 - 1.1 - 6
Horta 34.2 - 57.0 1 4.3 - 1.5 - 1
Leiria 31.1 4 31.2 4 19.4 2 7.3 1 1.0 - 11
Lisbon 38.3 25 16.4 10 13.2 8 21.8 14 2.6 1 58
Ponta Delgada 35.4 1 45.6 2 11.8 - 1.5 - 3
Portalegre 41.9 3 10.1 - 13.9 - 22.0 1 1.0 - 4
Porto 40.7 18 27.0 11 15.7 6 8.4 3 1.5 - 38
Santarém 38.5 6 19.5 3 13.9 2 16.1 2 1.7 - 13
Setúbal 32.2 7 8.4 1 4.4 - 44.4 9 2.8 - 17
Viana do Castelo 25.5 2 32.8 3 23.5 2 6.6 - 0.9 - 7
Vila Real 26.3 2 39.0 4 18.3 1 3.1 - 0.9 - 7
Viseu 23.0 3 32.2 4 31.2 4 2.3 - 0.9 - 11
Europe 46.1 1 32.2 1 6.9 - 10.1 - 0.8 - 2
Rest of the World 6.3 - 53.2 1 33.7 1 1.4 - 0.4 - 2
Total 34.9 107 24.4 73 16.0 42 14.4 40 1.7 1 263
Source: Comissão Nacional de Eleições

Maps

Notes


  1. Portuguese Democratic Movement won 5 seats and the Independent Democratic Association of Macau won 1 seat in the 1975 election. Both parties did not contested this election.

References


  1. Fundação Mário Soares
  2. Diário da Républica, 25 de Maio de 1976 - Lista de candidatos eleitos[permanent dead link]
  3. "Mário Soares e o ″socialismo na gaveta″". TSF Rádio Notícias (in Portuguese). 10 January 2017. Retrieved 29 June 2020.
  4. Quando o PS desceu à rua, Público, retrieved 21 September 2020.
  5. Caso “República”, RTP, retrieved 21 September 2020.
  6. Nacionalizações de 1975, RTP, retrieved 21 September 2020.
  7. Portugal, o Verão Quente de 1975 visto pela CIA, Sábado, retrieved 21 September 2020.
  8. O comício da Alameda feito em aliança com a Igreja para combater o PCP, Jornal i, retrieved 21 September 2020.
  9. O Norte a ferro e fogo, Correio da Manhã, retrieved 21 September 2020.
  10. Mas quem é este Vasco Gonçalves?, Expresso, retrieved 21 September 2020.
  11. 25 de Abril: O assalto à embaixada espanhola e o impacto da revolução no ambiente em Espanha, Expresso, retrieved 21 September 2020.
  12. Governo em greve, RTP, retrieved 21 September 2020.
  13. O cerco ao Palácio de São Bento (12/13 de novembro), Assembly of the Republic, retrieved 21 September 2020.
  14. Toda a história do 25 de Novembro, a “dramática aventura” que ditou o fim da Revolução, Expresso, retrieved 21 September 2020.
  15. Constituição da República Portuguesa (PDF), Assembly of the Republic, retrieved 21 September 2020.
  16. "Constitution of the Portuguese Republic" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-03-03. Retrieved 2019-12-29.
  17. "Effective threshold in electoral systems". Trinity College, Dublin. Retrieved 2015-10-21.
  18. Gallaher, Michael (1992). "Comparing Proportional Representation Electoral Systems: Quotas, Thresholds, Paradoxes and Majorities"
  19. "Eleição da Assembleia da República de 25 de Abril de 1976". CNE - Comissão Nacional de Eleições - Eleição da Assembleia da República de 25 de Abril de 1976. Retrieved 3 December 2020.
  20. "Comunicação Política em eleições legislativas em Portugal: uma análise a partir dos cartazes eleitorais (1975-2009)" (PDF). Francisco Teixeira (in Portuguese). Retrieved 12 May 2020.
  21. "ELEIÇÕES LEGISLATIVAS DE 1983 – PSD". EPHEMERA (in Portuguese). Retrieved 11 May 2020.
  22. "Comunicação Política em eleições legislativas em Portugal: uma análise a partir dos cartazes eleitorais (1975-2009)" (PDF). Francisco Teixeira (in Portuguese). Retrieved 12 May 2020.
  23. "Comunicação Política em eleições legislativas em Portugal: uma análise a partir dos cartazes eleitorais (1975-2009)" (PDF). Francisco Teixeira (in Portuguese). Retrieved 12 May 2020.

See also