Lessons from the Azores

The regional elections gave, with surprise in the face of the polls, a huge blow in the stomach of the power in force in Portugal, that of the PS of António Costa.

1. The Azores are the first major political challenge for António Costa and the PS after 2015. Before that, only social issues, such as the Pedrógão fires and the current Covid-19 pandemic, had questioned the functioning of the left contraption - and the that remained of it. Now, finally, the Portuguese have posed, as a result of their will expressed by the vote, a new challenge with very interesting dimensions.

I quote the first (dimension): the hypocrisy and inconsistency of the statements with which the PS welcomed the loss of the absolute majority.

Five years ago, the PSD / CDS coalition had not won, in the socialist perspective, the legislative elections because, despite having been ahead in votes, it had not obtained enough mandates to govern. It was a thesis, a way of seeing it perfectly admissible given the essence of the process of constituting a government determined by the Constitution of the Republic.

And yet, the PS spoke last Sunday night, through António Costa and Vasco Cordeiro, as if the words of 2015 had not been spoken. He treated the Portuguese as people to whom words such as straw can be served. It all depends.

Better was Rui Rio who, substantively, referred to the PS as having won because he had “more votes”. In other words, with another leader, the PSD maintained the same way of looking at electoral results. What these same results may imply is something to be seen in the next phase.

2. In the Azores / 2020, applying the socialist logic meanwhile abandoned, there would also have been no winner, since the executive formation process was suspended, with eight parties sharing the 57 parliamentary seats, opening even more doors to the right, whose number of total deputies, 29 (PSD / CDS / PPM / Chega / IL), exceed those of the PS with BE (27, of 25 + 2). (The PAN remains, with a deputy).

The magic number that gives the majority, 29, is more likely to the right than to the left, unless the CDS would come together with the PS, which has happened in the past but would be suicide now, at least to the in light of the national dynamics.

3. If political logic prevails, the PS will suffer defeat, lose the government of the Azores.

PSD / CDS / PPM / IL have a more or less solid base (27) to negotiate with Chega (2) and PAN. If the PAN votes with the right, Chega's abstention is sufficient and is probably the best option for everyone. To the right because it avoids, for the time being, the hassle of negotiating with André Ventura's controversial party; and for this because it avoids, before time (the national legislatures, and even the presidential ones), to commit to the exercise of power. Being anti-system capitalizes.

Party geometry is not entirely reassuring for either side, but the only way to avoid new elections is for the right to understand each other. And there is an extra incentive here: to realize the first major defeat of the PS of António Costa, engaged in the difficult negotiation of the State Budget and in the management of the health crisis.

The Azores gave, with surprise at the polls, a huge punch in the stomach in power in Portugal.

4. The final lesson of the Azores is that there is no need to be afraid of bogeymen. In democracy, all parties must be evaluated in the light of the constitutional text. If the communists (swept away by the Azorean citizens of the regional assembly) could become a democratic party in the eyes of the Portuguese, such as extremism regrouped in BE, there is no other party, at this precise moment, that deserves mistrust. Furthermore, the voter will always be here to evaluate.


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