LISBON – The ruling centre-right coalition comprising the Social Democratic Party (PSD) and the People’s Party (CDS-PP) won the Portuguese general elections despite a loss of majority.

“A right-wing government in a left-wing parliament,” was the headline in Jornal de Notícias newspaper following Sunday’s Portuguese general election. The winner, Portugal à Frente partnership, received 38.5%, winning 104 seats in the 230-seat Parliament. This means 25 seats less and a drop of 11% in votes compared to the results in the 2011 electoral round.

The Socialist Party (PS) increased its number of votes by 11% and MPs from 74 to 85, the Left Bloc doubled its seat up to 19 seats, while the Portuguese Communist Party (PCP) have 17 MPs. The Party for People, Animals and Nature entered parliament for the first time after winning one seat.

The general election was the first since Portugal exited an international bailout last year. However, its result was broadly seen as a referendum on four years of deep spending cuts and the biggest tax hikes in living memory.

“It would be strange if the winner of the elections couldn’t govern,” said Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho, following the loss of majority of the conservative coalition which he is leading. He indicated therefore that he was ready to talk to other parties in the next parliament to pursue the “necessary reforms” he wants to implement.

Portugal Republic President Aníbal Cavaco Silva is expected to invite Passos Coelho to form a new government and open up rounds with other parliamentary groups to negotiate the inauguration of the elected candidate.

This would be the first European administration to be re-elected after applying austerity measures. Anti-austerity discourse was though successful when it comes to election results.

The lefty party Bloco de Esquerda (BE) doubled its seats against the slight loss of Portuguese Communist Party, allowing their elected deputies to defend anti-austerity during the term.

“BE is strengthened with the responsibility to fulfil its electoral commitment to defending salaries, defending pensions, defending workers’ dignity and fighting austerity and poverty,” said Mariana Mortágua, one of BE deputies.

The election’s most notable losers The Socialists could feasibly form a majority with BE and the Communists. But the Socialist Party’s core falls within moderate policy and rules out to get on board the defence of anti-austerity.

 – Joan Isus, Correspondent (Europe)