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Cablegate: Socialists Win Portuguese Parliamentary Elections

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DE RUEHLI #0516/01 2711133
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P 281133Z SEP 09
FM AMEMBASSY LISBON
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7890
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 LISBON 000516

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL SCUL SOCI PO
SUBJECT: SOCIALISTS WIN PORTUGUESE PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS

REF: A. LISBON 493
B. LISBON 510

1. Summary: On September 27, the ruling Socialist Party won
a plurality of the seats in the Portuguese Parliament with 37
percent of the vote. The Social Democratic Party, led by
former Finance Minister Manuela Ferreira Leite, came in
second with 29 percent of the vote. The Socialists lost 25
seats, while other parties gained seats, increasing their
representation in Parliament. Election assessment teams
concluded that the elections were well organized with no
disruptions or significant issues. While too early to
predict a coalition of the Socialists with another party, the
most likely scenario is a continued Socialist government.
End Summary.

2. According to unofficial results of Portugal's September 27
parliamentary elections, the ruling Socialist Party (PS) led
by Prime Minister Jose Socrates won a plurality of the seats
in the 230-seat Parliament with 37 percent of the vote. The
Socialists, who have ruled with an absolute majority (121
seats) since 2005, lost 25 seats. The opposition Social
Democratic Party (PSD) trailed with 29 percent of the vote,
followed by the Popular Party (CDS-PP) with 11 percent, the
Left Bloc with 10 percent, and the Communist Party with 8
percent. The PSD gained three seats, while the Popular Party
gained 10 seats, and the Left Bloc gained 8, doubling its
presence (from 8 to 16 seats) in the Parliament. The
Communists gained four seats. Voter turnout was 61 percent.


Official Results to be Released
-------------------------------
3. The official results are expected within 10 days, at which
point the President will ask the Socialist Party to form a
government. In his victory speech September 27, Prime
Minister Socrates left open the door for a possible coalition
without specifically naming any parties; however, the most
likely scenario is a minority Socialist-led government with
ad hoc agreements with the left and the right to pass
measures through the Parliament.

Media Reaction
--------------
4. Local press announced the Socialist victory with reserved
declarations, such as "Limited PS Victory," "No Absolute
Majority for the PS," "Absolute Negotiation," and "And Now
What, Socrates?," that foreshadow the difficult road ahead.
Press also highlighted the surprising third place finish of
the right-of-center CDS-PP and the fourth place finish for
the (far left) Left Bloc that effectively doubled the party's
current representation in Parliament.

5. Media noted the disappointing results for the PSD and
attributed them to the party's weak campaign, its position on
the controversial high-speed rail-link project, anti-Spain
statements, and inclusion of polemic figure Deputy Antonio
Preto (who has been accused of corruption) as a candidate.

Election Assessment
-------------------
6. Emboffs visited eight polling centers in four precincts on
election day, and observed that the centers were well
organized, with short lines, voters of all ages, including
families with children, hand sanitizers as a preventive
measure against the H1N1 virus, and clear signs directing
voters to their stations. Emboffs did not notice any
political propaganda or disruptions, nor any special access
for the handicapped.

7. The OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human
Rights (ODIHR) Election Assessment Mission concluded that the
elections went well. Deputy Head of Mission Michael Meyer
told poloff September 28 that the polling centers were, for
the most part, easily accessible although access was
difficult for the handicapped. He also noted that there was
a certain level of informality, but a high degree of
confidence and experience among election officials. Large
political parties and local observers were present at several
centers. He noted one small glitch )- use of wrong ballots
-- in one polling center in the Viana do Castelo district in
the northern region. But overall, the elections were well
organized with no disruptions or significant issues.


8. Post will report septel further election and post-election
analysis. Portugal's municipal elections will be held on
October 11.


For more reporting from Embassy Lisbon and information about Portugal,

LISBON 00000516 002 OF 002


please see our Intelink site:

http://www.intelink.sgov.gov/wiki/portal:port ugal
BALLARD

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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