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Cablegate: Social Democrats and Socialists Both Claim Victory

VZCZCXRO8610
PP RUEHIK
DE RUEHLI #0538 2861313
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 131313Z OCT 09
FM AMEMBASSY LISBON
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7917
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC

UNCLAS LISBON 000538

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL SCUL SOCI PO
SUBJECT: SOCIAL DEMOCRATS AND SOCIALISTS BOTH CLAIM VICTORY
IN PORTUGUESE LOCAL ELECTIONS

REF: A. LISBON 537
B. LISBON 516

1. (U) As anticipated, the Social Democrats (PSD) retained
the majority of Portugal's 308 mayoral posts, while the
Socialists (PS) won the most number of votes -- an estimated
2 million to PSD's 1 million -- in the October 11 local
elections (ref A). Both parties claimed victory. Voter
turnout was 59 percent, down from 61 percent in 2005. On
September 27, the Socialist Party led by PM Jose Socrates was
re-elected to head the national Parliament (ref B).

2. (U) Overall, the right-of-center Social Democrats obtained
140 mayoral posts, including 23 in coalition with the Popular
Party (down 17 from 2005), while the left-of-center
Socialists won 131 posts, an increase of 21. The Communist
Party trailed with 28 mayoral posts, down from 32 in 2005.
Socialist mayor Antonio Costa was re-elected in Lisbon with
44 percent over Social Democrat rival Santana Lopes with 39
percent. This result allows Costa to have an absolute
majority in the Lisbon City Council. Incumbent Social
Democrat Rui Rio was re-elected as mayor in Porto with 47
percent over his Socialist rival's 35 percent.

3. (U) Incumbent Prime Minister Socrates was sworn in as the
new prime minister on October 12 in the wake of September 27
parliamentary elections. Immediately after his swearing-in,
Socrates announced that he will begin informal dialogue with
leaders of opposition parties to discuss possible cooperation
with his government. During the first plenary session of the
newly elected parliament, scheduled for October 15, new
deputies will take office and incumbent Jaime Gama will be
nominated speaker by the ruling Socialist party. Socrates
will present his government program to Parliament within 10
days, which will be the first vote that Socrates needs to win
to establish the stability of his minority government.

4. (U) Media reaction: The October 11 municipal elections
received extensive coverage in Portuguese media. Under
headings such as "Bittersweet Victory for the PSD in Local
Elections," "PS with Positive Outcome in the War against
PSD," and "Renovation Starts in Four Years," local press
echoed the overall opinion voiced by analysts that although
the Social Democrats won the majority of the mayoral posts,
the final results were positive for the Socialists.
Portuguese newspapers noted the disappointing results
obtained by the radical left-wing Left Bloc and the
conservative Popular Party, pointing to the lack of strong
local party machinery as a possible factor. Media reports
further highlighted that although 52 municipalities changed
their political party in the elections, local political power
is still dominated by the center-right PSD and the
center-left PS, with the Communists losing ground but still
managing to maintain significant local representation in
certain rural areas.

5. (SBU) Comment: The election results confirmed the largely
personality-driven nature of Portuguese local elections and
the strength of the PSD's local political apparatus.
Nonetheless, the PSD, while managing to hold onto the
majority of mayoral seats as anticipated, lost 17 seats due
in part to the weak leadership and poorly run national
campaign of PSD president Manuela Ferreira Leite. Post will
report septel on the formation of the new Socialist
government and selection of cabinet ministers.


For more reporting from Embassy Lisbon and information about Portugal,
please see our Intelink site:

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

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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