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Assembleia da Republica (Assembly of the Republic)

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Parliament name (generic / translated) Assembleia da Republica / Assembly of the Republic
Structure of parliament Unicameral
Dates of election / renewal (from/to) 5 June 2011
Purpose of elections Elections were held for all seats in the Assembly of the Republic following its premature dissolution of this body on 31 March 2011. General elections had previously been held in September 2009.
On 31 March 2011, President Aníbal Cavaco Silva dissolved the Assembly of the Republic and called early elections for 5 June, 27 months earlier than they were constitutionally due (see note).

In the previous elections held in September 2009, Prime Minister Jose Socrates' Socialist Party (PS) - in power since 2005 - remained the largest party in the 230-member Assembly of the Republic with 97 seats, but failed to retain an absolute majority. The Social Democratic Party (PPD/PSD), which had been in power before 2005, came in second with 81 seats. The Democratic and Social Centre-People's Party (CDS-PP) and the Left Bloc (BE) took 21 and 16 seats respectively. The Unitary Democratic Coalition (CDU) - comprising the Communist Party-Green Coalition (PCP-PEV) - took the remaining 15 seats. Mr. Socrates subsequently formed a minority government.

The country of 10 million inhabitants, which had been severely affected by the global economic crisis in 2008 and 2009, was faced with the euro debt crisis in 2010. The latter forced Greece and Ireland to accept a bailout from the European Union (EU) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). In an attempt to avoid seeking external aid, Prime Minister Socrates implemented a series of austerity measures in 2010. However, the country's economy continued to deteriorate. Unemployment surpassed 11 per cent by the end of 2010.

In March 2011, the Prime Minister submitted to the Assembly of the Republic a new austerity plan, the fourth in under a year. The austerity plan included spending cuts and tax increases. On 23 March, on the eve of an EU summit to finalize a euro-zone debt crisis plan, all four opposition parties rejected the plan, arguing that the new measures would push the country further into a recession. Later the same day, Mr. Socrates tendered his resignation to the President, accusing the opposition of denying his government the conditions to govern. He stayed on in a caretaker capacity. The political instability prompted rating agencies to downgrade Portuguese State bonds, increasing the pressure on the government to ask for a bailout.

On 31 March, the National Statistics Institute announced that the country's budget deficit had reached 8.6 per cent of its gross domestic product (GDP) in 2010, surpassing the 7.3 per-cent target agreed with the EU. President Silva subsequently set early elections for 5 June, citing the clear degradation of the political situation.

On 6 April, caretaker Prime Minister Socrates officially asked for a bailout from the EU and the IMF. The two organizations subsequently granted Portugal a 78 billion-euro bailout, whose conditions required tax increases, a freeze on State pensions and salaries and cuts in unemployment benefits. The country's GDP is expected to shrink by 2 per cent in 2011.

How to stimulate the country's economic recovery was the main issue during the election campaign. Caretaker Prime Minister Socrates' PS was challenged by two centre-right opposition parties: the PPD/PSD, led by Mr. Pedro Passos Coelho, and the CDS-PP of Mr. Paulo Portas. These centre-right parties had been in a coalition government prior to 2005. They stated that they would not work with the PS as long as Mr. Socrates remained the party leader.

Mr. Socrates (PS) argued that it was the State, rather than the private sector, that should lead the economic recovery. He urged voters to support the PS, arguing that the PPD/PSD would pursue a radical right-wing agenda, that would include privatizing public services and abolishing free schooling and health care. He criticized the PPD/PSD leader Mr. Coelho's lack of experience in government.

Mr. Coelho called on voters' support to let the private sector lead the economic recovery. He argued that the PS government had caused the country's economy to deteriorate and had made it accumulate unsustainable debt. He promised to cut wasteful State spending while assisting the needy so as to regain the confidence of the financial markets which, in his view, was essential for the Portuguese people to regain confidence in their own country.

The PCP-PEV and the BE argued against economic liberalization and did not rule out a possible coalition with the PS in the newly elected legislature.

On 5 June, 58.07 per cent of the 9.6 million registered voters turned out at the polls.

The centre-right parties fared well in the elections. The PPD/PSD came in first with 108 seats, with the CDS-PP taking 24. The PCP-PEV took 16 seats, one more than in the 2009 elections. Meanwhile the PS took 74, the party's worst showing since 1991. Mr. Socrates resigned as PS leader over the election defeat. The BE took eight seats, down from 16. In all, 61 women were elected.

PPD/PSD leader Coelho subsequently announced that he would form a coalition government with the CDS-PP.

In Portugal, the candidate for the speakership presented by the largest party in the Assembly has traditionally been elected as Speaker without any major challenges. However, the CDS-PP publicly opposed the candidate proposed by the PPD/PSD.

On 20 June, the newly elected Assembly of the Republic held its first session. It failed twice to elect the PPD/PSD's candidate, Mr. Fernando Nobre, as Speaker, resulting in the first rejection of the speakership candidate in 35 years. He subsequently withdrew his candidature for the post. The following day, Ms. Assunção Esteves (PSD) was elected as the new Speaker, becoming the first woman in Portugal to assume the post.

Each legislature consists of four legislative sessions. Each session commences on 15 September and lasts for one year. In cases of early dissolution of the Assembly of the Republic, the newly elected legislature completes the remaining period of the last session in progress of the outgoing legislature in addition to its statutory four-year term. The term of the Assembly of the Republic elected in June 2011 will thus last until 15 September 2015, in lieu of June 2015. General elections are held between 14 September and 14 October in the year in which the legislature ends.
Voter turnout
Round no 15 June 2011
Number of registered electors
Blank or invalid ballot papers
Valid votes
5'585'054 (58.03%)
Distribution of votes
Round no 1
Political Group Candidates Votes %
Social Democratic Party (PPD/PSD) 2'159'742 40.29
Socialist Party (PS) 1'568'168 29.26
Democratic and Social Centre - People's Party (CDS-PP) 653'987 12.20
Communist Party - Green Coalition (PCP-PEV) 441'852 8.24
Left Bloc (BE) 288'973 5.39
Distribution of seats
Round no 1
Political Group Total Members abroad
Social Democratic Party (PPD/PSD) 108 3
Socialist Party (PS) 74 1
Democratic and Social Centre - People's Party (CDS-PP) 24 0
Communist Party - Green Coalition (PCP-PEV) 16 0
Left Bloc (BE) 8 0
Distribution of seats according to sex
Percent of women
Distribution of seats according to age
Distribution of seats according to profession
Assembly of the Republic (21.06.2011, 22.06.2011, 12.12.2011, 01.01.2014)

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