Socialist Party (Portugal)

The Socialist Party (Portuguese: Partido Socialista, pronounced [pɐɾˈtiðu susiɐˈliʃtɐ], PS) is a centre-left,[4][5] social democratic[6][7] political party in Portugal. It was founded on 19 April 1973 in the German city of Bad Münstereifel by militants from the Portuguese Socialist Action (Portuguese: Acção Socialista Portuguesa).

Socialist Party

Partido Socialista
PresidentCarlos César
Secretary-GeneralAntónio Costa
FounderMário Soares
Founded19 April 1973 (1973-04-19)
Legalized1 February 1975 (1975-02-01)[1]
Preceded byAcção Socialista Portuguesa
HeadquartersLargo do Rato 2, 1269–143 Lisbon
NewspaperAcção Socialista
Student wingEstudantes Socialistas
Youth wingSocialist Youth
Women's wingNational Department of the Socialist Women
Membership (2020)72,744[2]
IdeologySocial democracy
Political positionCentre-left
European affiliationParty of European Socialists
International affiliation
European Parliament groupProgressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats
Trade union affiliationGeneral Union of Workers
  •   Red (official)
  •   Pink (customary)
"Socialismo em Liberdade"[3]
"Socialism in Freedom"
Assembly of the Republic
108 / 230
European Parliament
9 / 21
Regional Parliaments
44 / 104
Local government
160 / 308
Local government
1,302 / 3,085
Party flag

The PS is one of the two major parties in Portuguese politics, its rival being the centre-right Social Democratic Party (PSD). The leader of the PS is António Costa, the current Prime Minister of Portugal. The party has 108 of 230 seats in the Portuguese Parliament following the October 2019 election, forming a minority government.

PS is a member of the Socialist International, Progressive Alliance and Party of European Socialists, and has nine members in the European Parliament within the Socialists & Democrats (S&D) Group during the ninth parliament.


António Costa, Prime Minister since November 2015 and Secretary-General since 2014.

Inspired by May 68,[8] the Socialist Party (PS) was created at a conference of Portuguese Socialist Action (ASP), at that time in exile, on 19 April 1973, in Bad Münstereifel in West Germany. The twenty-seven delegates decided to found a party of socialism and freedom, making an explicit reference to a classless society and with Marxism as a source of principal inspiration.

On 25 April 1974, the Carnation Revolution brought down the authoritarian regime of the Estado Novo, established in 1933, and democracy was restored. The general secretary of the PS, Mário Soares, returned to Portugal after being in exile in France, and became Minister of Foreign Affairs, and António de Almeida Santos was appointed Minister of Interjurisdictional Coordination in one of the first provisional governments.

After the Revolution, elections were called for 25 April 1975 and the Socialist Party (PS) won the 1975 election for the Constituent Assembly and the 1976 elections for the National Assembly, then losing to the Democratic Alliance (AD) in the 1979 legislative election.

In 1980, the PS made an electoral alliance called the Republican and Socialist Front (FRS), between the Independent Social Democrats (ASDI), led by Sousa Franco, and the Leftwing Union for the Socialist Democracy (UEDS), led by Lopes Cardoso. The alliance failed to defeat the AD.

They won the 1983 general election, but without an absolute majority, the Socialists formed a grand coalition with the centre-right Social Democratic Party (PSD), creating a "Central Block". The new government began negotiations for Portugal to enter the European Economic Community (EEC). In 1985 the Central Block broke down and the PS at the time led by Almeida Santos, lost the 1985 legislative election. Cavaco Silva's PSD won the 1985 elections and again in 1987 and 1991 with an absolute majority. The PS was in opposition for more than ten years.

In the 1995 legislative election, the Socialist Party, then led by António Guterres, won a general election for the first time in twelve years, and in the 1999 election failed to obtain what would have been a historic absolute majority for the party by only one MP. In 2001, after a massive defeat in the 2001 local elections, António Guterres resigned as Prime Minister and called for new elections in 2002. The Socialist Party lost the 2002 general election by a small margin to the PSD, who formed a coalition government with the People's Party (CDS–PP). During this time, it has been argued that the Socialist Party moved towards the center and adopted the Third Way.[9][10]

In June 2004, the PS won the 2004 European elections by a landslide, and a few weeks later, Durão Barroso, leader of the PSD and Prime Minister, resigned to become President of the European Commission. In December 2004, Jorge Sampaio, President of the Republic, called fresh elections for February 2005. These elections resulted in a landslide victory for the PS, winning for the first time since its foundation an absolute majority. José Sócrates, leader of the PS, became Prime Minister.

In 2009, after four-and-a-half years in power, the PS lost the 2009 European Parliament elections to the PSD. However, they won the general election held on 27 September 2009 but failed to renew the absolute majority they won in the previous general election. The PS later introduced and legislated same-sex marriage.

The financial crisis of 2011 hit Portugal very hard, prompting Sócrates' government to impose harsh austerity measures. On 23 March 2011, the entire opposition in Parliament said no to new measures proposed by the government. As a result of this, José Sócrates resigned as Prime Minister and a snap election took place on 5 June 2011.

In the elections, the PS suffered a huge setback, with 28.1% of the vote, ten points behind the PSD, who formed another coalition government with the CDS-PP. Sócrates resigned as General Secretary on election night after the PS's worst result since 1987. On 23 July 2011, António José Seguro was elected as Sócrates' successor.

The PS, under the leadership of Seguro, won the 2013 local elections making significant gains over the PSD and the Socialists again won the European elections in May 2014 but this time only just. They won 31.5% of the vote against the almost 28% of the alliance between the PSD and CDS-PP. The result was considered quite a disappointment to many Socialist party members and supporters and on 27 May António Costa, the then-mayor of Lisbon announced that he would stand for the leadership of the Socialist Party.[11] António José Seguro refused to call a new congress and leadership election and instead called for a primary election, to be held on 28 September, to elect the party's candidate for Prime Minister in the 2015 general elections.[12] António Costa, being endorsed by the left faction of the party and by people like Mário Soares, Ana Catarina Mendes and Pedro Nuno Santos easily defeated António José Seguro, supported by a more moderate/centrist wing of the party, by a 67% to 31% margin.

In the 2015 legislative elections, the PS polled a disappointing second place, capturing just 32% of the votes against the 38.6% of the PSD/CDS-PP electoral alliance Portugal Ahead. Despite the victory of the PSD/CDS-PP coalition, the centre-left and left-wing parties achieved a clear majority in Parliament. After the second Passos Coelho cabinet fell in Parliament, with the approval of a no-confidence motion, the PS forged a confidence and supply agreement with Left Bloc and Unitary Democratic Coalition to support a PS minority government. For the first time in Portuguese democracy, the leader of the second most voted political force became Prime Minister.

Costa led a very successful first term as Prime Minister with a growing economy, low unemployment and deficit cuts. Although he led a more left-leaning PS, in 2018 Costa started to shift the party back to the center, something that a younger and more left-wing faction, led by the Minister Pedro Nuno Santos, contested.[13] In the 2019 European elections, the PS won a landslide by achieving 33.4%, against the 22% of the PSD. The PS also won the October 2019 general election with 36% of the votes, against the 28% of the PSD, but by a closer margin than expected. The Second Costa cabinet was sworn in on 26 October 2019.

For the 2021 Portuguese presidential election António Costa endorsed the incumbent Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, something that made some party members unsatisfied. Former Socialist MEP, Ana Gomes, a critic of Costa and a member of the left faction of the party, ran for the presidency, declaring herself the candidate of Democratic Socialism and Progressivism stating that she's disappointed with the leadership of the party for not having an official candidate.[14][15]

Gomes, with the support of the left faction of the party and some more moderate members worried about corruption, finished in a disappointing second place behind de Sousa. The President had many endorsements of party leaders like Lisbon's Mayor Fernando Medina, Eduardo Ferro Rodrigues and Carlos César.

Election results

Assembly of the Republic

Election Assembly of the Republic Government Size Leader
Votes  % ±pp Seats won +/−
1975 2,162,972 37.9%
116 / 250
Constituent Assembly 1st Mário Soares
1976 1,912,921 34.9% 3.0
107 / 263
9 Minority gov't[lower-alpha 1] (1976-78) 1st
Opposition (1978-79)
1979 1,642,136 27.3% 7.6
74 / 250
33 Opposition 2nd
1980 w. Republican and Socialist Front
66 / 250
8 Opposition 2nd
1983 2,061,309 36.1%
101 / 250
35 Central Bloc gov't
1985 1,204,321 20.8% 15.3
57 / 250
44 Opposition 2nd Almeida Santos
1987 1,262,506 22.2% 1.4
60 / 250
3 Opposition 2nd Vítor Constâncio
1991 1,670,758 29.1% 6.9
72 / 230
12 Opposition 2nd Jorge Sampaio
1995 2,583,755 43.8% 14.7
112 / 230
40 Minority gov't 1st António Guterres
1999 2,385,922 44.1% 0.3
115 / 230
3 Minority gov't 1st
2002 2,068,584 37.8% 6.3
96 / 230
19 Opposition 2nd Eduardo Ferro Rodrigues
2005 2,588,312 45.0% 7.2
121 / 230
25 Majority gov't 1st José Sócrates
2009 2,077,238 36.6% 8.4
97 / 230
24 Minority gov't 1st
2011 1,566,347 28.1% 8.5
74 / 230
23 Opposition 2nd
2015 1,747,685 32.3% 4.2
86 / 230
12 Opposition (2015) 2nd António Costa
Minority gov't[lower-alpha 2] (2015-19)
2019 1,903,687 36.3% 4.0
108 / 230
22 Minority gov't 1st

European Parliament

Election European Parliament Size Candidate
Votes  % ±pp Seats won +/
1987 1,267,672 22.5%
6 / 24
2nd Maria de Lourdes Pintasilgo
1989 1,184,380 28.5% 6.0
8 / 24
2 2nd João Cravinho
1994 1,061,560 34.9% 6.4
10 / 25
2 1st António Vitorino
1999 1,493,146 43.1% 8.2
12 / 25
2 1st Mário Soares
2004 1,516,001 44.5% 1.4
12 / 24
0 1st António Costa
2009 946,818 26.5% 18.0
7 / 22
5 2nd Vital Moreira
2014 1,033,158 31.5% 5.0
8 / 21
1 1st Francisco Assis
2019 1,106,328 33.4% 1.9
9 / 21
1 1st Pedro Marques

Regional Assemblies

Region Last
Regional Assemblies Government Size
Votes  % ±pp Seats won +/−
Azores 2020 40,703 39.1% 7.3
25 / 57
5 Opposition 1st
Madeira 2019 51,207 35.8% 24.4
19 / 47
14 Opposition 2nd

List of important people

Mário Soares, founder, Prime Minister 1976–1978 and 1983–1985, President 1986–1996.
António Guterres, Prime Minister from 1995 to 2002. Currently the 9th Secretary-General of the United Nations.
José Sócrates, Secretary General of the PS 2004-2011 and Prime Minister 2005–2011.
Carlos César, President of the Government of the Azores from 1996 to 2012 and the current President of the Socialist Party.
CostaCostaPedro Passos CoelhoJosé SócratesPedro Santana LopesJosé Manuel Durão BarrosoAntónio GuterresAníbal Cavaco SilvaFrancisco Pinto BalsemãoFrancisco Sá CarneiroMário SoaresAntónio CostaAntónio José SeguroJosé SócratesFerro RodriguesAntónio GuterresJorge SampaioVítor ConstâncioAlmeida SantosMário Soares


Party Presidents

Presidents of the Assembly

Prime Ministers

Presidents of the Republic

See also


  1. Coalition government with CDS between January and August 1978.
  2. Confidence & supply gov't: PS ⇐ (BEPCPPEV).


  1. "Partidos registados e suas denominações, siglas e símbolos" Tribunal Constitucional. (in Portuguese)
  2. São José, Almeida (2 August 2020). "56,75% dos militantes do PS têm mais de 50 anos". Público. Retrieved 2 August 2020.
  4. Lisi, Marco; Freire, André (2014). "The selection of political party leaders in Portugal". In Jean-Benoit Pilet; William Cross (eds.). The Selection of Political Party Leaders in Contemporary Parliamentary Democracies: A Comparative Study. Routledge. p. 124. ISBN 978-1-317-92945-1.
  5. "Esquerda-direita: análise das posições ideológicas do PS e do PSD (1990-2010)". 2016.
  6. Nordsieck, Wolfram (2019). "Portugal". Parties and Elections in Europe. Retrieved 8 October 2019.
  7. Dimitri Almeida (2012). The Impact of European Integration on Political Parties: Beyond the Permissive Consensus. CRC Press. p. 71. ISBN 978-1-136-34039-0. Retrieved 14 July 2013.
  8. Varela, Raquel; della Santa, Roberto (4 December 2018). "O Maio de 68 na Europa – Estado e Revolução" [The May of 68 in Europe – State and Revolution] (PDF). Direito e Práxis (in Portuguese). 9 (2): 969–991. doi:10.1590/2179-8966/2018/33600. ISSN 2179-8966.
  9. Costa Lobo, Marina; Magalhães, Pedro C. (2001). "The Portuguese Socialists and the Third Way" (PDF). European Consortium for Political Research. Retrieved 7 November 2016. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  10. Pearlstein, Steven (6 May 2009). "In Portugal, as in America, a 'Third Way' Is Reemerging". The Washington Post. Retrieved 11 May 2009.
  11. Nuno, Sá Lourenço (27 May 2014). "António Costa avança para a liderança do PS". Público. Retrieved 4 September 2014.
  12. Telma, Roque (6 June 2014). "Aprovada a realização de eleições primárias no PS a 28 de setembro". Jornal de Notícias. Retrieved 4 September 2014.
  13. Ana, Sá Lopes (4 June 2018). "Pedro Nuno ganha batalha e António Costa não gostou". Sol. Retrieved 18 May 2020.