1983 Portuguese legislative election

The Portuguese legislative election of 1983 took place on 25 April. The election renewed all 250 members of the Assembly of the Republic.

1983 Portuguese legislative election

 1980 25 April 1983 1985 

250 seats to the Portuguese Assembly
125 seats needed for a majority
Registered7,337,064 2.2%
Turnout5,707,695 (77.8%)
6.1 pp
  First party Second party
Leader Mário Soares Carlos Mota Pinto
Party PS PSD
Leader since 19 April 1973 presumptive
Leader's seat Lisbon[1] Coimbra[2]
Last election 66 seats, 27.8%[lower-alpha 1] 82 seats
Seats won 101 75
Seat change 35 7
Popular vote 2,061,309 1,554,804
Percentage 36.1% 27.2%
Swing 8.3 pp [lower-alpha 2]

  Third party Fourth party
Leader Álvaro Cunhal Lucas Pires
Alliance APU
Leader since 1979 20 February 1983
Leader's seat Lisbon Lisbon
Last election 41 seats, 16.8% 46 seats
Seats won 44 30
Seat change 3 16
Popular vote 1,031,609 716,705
Percentage 18.1% 12.6%
Swing 1.3 pp [lower-alpha 2]

Prime Minister before election

Francisco Pinto Balsemão

Elected Prime Minister

Mário Soares

The last election, in October 1980 had been won by a right-wing coalition, the Democratic Alliance (AD) and Francisco Sá Carneiro had retained office as Prime Minister with an increased majority.

However, Sá Carneiro, along with other important members of the coalition, died in an aircrash only two months after the election, on 5 December 1980. Such happenings caused a massive political instability and Francisco Pinto Balsemão, a senior official of the Social Democratic Party, the largest party in the Alliance, became Prime Minister. But Balsemão lacked support from such senior members of his party as Aníbal Cavaco Silva, and several ministers resigned. Moreover, the right-wing policy was criticized by the left-wing and by the trade unions, and in February 1982, the General Confederation of the Portuguese Workers, with the support of the Communists, called for a general strike that shook the government. The wave of resignations among Balsemão's ministers continued and by the end of 1982, and also influenced by the AD's bad results in the 1982 local elections, Balsemão himself also resigned. Because no one inside the Social Democratic Party accepted the office of Prime Minister, the President Ramalho Eanes dissolved the Parliament and called an election for April. Shortly after, the AD was dissolved as PSD, CDS and PPM decided to run alone.

The election was won by the Socialist Party with 36%, and Mário Soares was nominated Prime Minister. However, the Socialists lacked a majority in the Assembly of the Republic and were forced to form a coalition with the Social Democrats, which achieved 27%, in what was called the "Central Block". Although this coalition allowed Soares to govern, several members of both parties were against it, and internal attacks led to the collapse of the coalition after less than two years. In the election that followed, the Communist-dominated United People Alliance lost 3 MPs and the Democratic and Social Center, after the dissolution of the Democratic Alliance, was now alone in the Parliament with 30 MPs, a loss of 16. The election marked the beginning of a process of bi-polarization of Portuguese politics.

This was the last legislative election to be won by the Socialist Party until 1995.