1987 Portuguese legislative election

The 1987 Portuguese legislative election took place on 19 July. The election renewed all 250 members of the Assembly of the Republic.

1987 Portuguese legislative election

 1985 19 July 1987 1991 

250 seats to the Portuguese Assembly
126 seats needed for a majority
Registered7,930,668 1.4%
Turnout5,676,358 (71.6%)
2.6 pp
  First party Second party Third party
Leader Aníbal Cavaco Silva Vítor Constâncio Álvaro Cunhal
Alliance CDU
Leader since 2 June 1985 29 June 1986 30 September 1987
Leader's seat Lisbon[1] Lisbon[2] Lisbon
Last election 88 seats, 29.9% 57 seats, 20.8% 38 seats, 15.5%
Seats won 148 60 31
Seat change 60 3 7
Popular vote 2,850,784 1,262,506 689,137
Percentage 50.2% 22.2% 12.1%
Swing 20.3 pp 1.4 pp 3.4 pp

  Fourth party Fifth party
Leader Ramalho Eanes Adriano Moreira
Leader since 1986 13 April 1986
Leader's seat Lisbon Lisbon
Last election 45 seats, 17.9% 22 seats, 10.0%
Seats won 7 4
Seat change 38 18
Popular vote 278,561 251,987
Percentage 4.9% 4.4%
Swing 13.0 pp 5.6 pp

Prime Minister before election

Aníbal Cavaco Silva

Prime Minister after election

Aníbal Cavaco Silva

In the previous election, in 1985, the Social Democratic Party had won a minority government managing to survive in coalition with the Democratic and Social Center and the Democratic Renewal Party, and after the approval of a no-confidence motion from the left-wing parties, with the aid of the Democratic Renewal Party, the government fell. The PS tried to form a new government with the support of the PRD and CDU, but Mário Soares, the President at the time, rejected the idea and called for a new election.[3]

The PSD was reelected in a landslide, winning a majority government with just over 50% of the votes and 148 of the 250 seats, a majority of 22. Not only was this the most seats that a Portuguese party had ever won in a free election, but it was first time since the Carnation Revolution that a single party won an absolute majority. Although the PSD was very popular going into the election, the size of its victory far exceeded the party's most optimistic expectations. The PSD won every district with the exception of Setúbal, Évora and Beja, which voted for the CDU.

The Socialist Party gained a few seats and got a slightly higher share of the vote, 22% compared with the almost 21% in 1985, but the scale of the PSD victory made the party lose most of its influence. Like in 1979, 1980 and 1985, the PS failed to win a single district. The left-wing Democratic Unity Coalition lost some of its MPs to the Socialist Party and the Democratic Renovator Party, now led by former President António Ramalho Eanes, lost almost all of its influence, mainly due to its responsibility in the fall of the former PSD minority government. The right-wing Democratic and Social Center lost almost half of its vote share, due to the effect of tactical voting for the also right-wing, Social Democratic Party.

European elections were held on the same day.

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