Find a Security Clearance Job!


Social Democrat Party (Partido Social Democrata--PSD)

The Social Democrat Party (Partido Social Democrata--PSD) calls itself Politics of Truth, joining a hand with the shape of a V of victory to its logo. For several times, its this V that represents and explains / communicates to the citizens what this party is.

The Social Democrat Party (Partido Social Democrata--PSD) emerged as the somewhat open and tolerated opposition under Caetano in the early 1970s. For a time, the PSD, then known as the Popular Democratic Party (Partido Popular Democrata--PPD), adopted the reformist political doctrines popular during the revolutionary period of the mid-1970s. It was soon overtaken, however, by the PS as the main opposition party, and it moved toward the democratic center. The radical constitution of 1976 was drafted and promulgated with its help, but even then the PSD was committed to its revision.

The PSD's fortunes generally improved as revolutionary fervor waned. In the earliest postrevolutionary elections, the PSD got about 24 to 27 percent of the vote, second to the PS. It had scored well in the conservative north of Portugal but not in the revolutionary south. As the party began to occupy the broad center of the political spectrum under the dynamic leadership of Francisco S Carneiro, the PSD's electoral support grew. In 1978 the PSD formed an electoral coalition, the Democratic Alliance (Aliana Democrtica--AD), with two other parties and came to power in early 1980 with S Carneiro as prime minister. Since the formation of this government, the PSD remained in government throughout the 1980s and into the first half of the 1990s, either as part of a coalition, in a minority single-party cabinet, or as a majority single-party government.

The AD won the parliamentary election of October 1980, but the coalition's forward movement slowed somewhat after the death of S Carneiro in a plane crash in December 1980. His successor, Expresso founder and editor Francisco Pinto Balsemo, lacked S Carneiro's forcefulness and charisma. The party formed an electoral coalition with the PS in 1983, the Central Bloc, and was in government until 1985 when the coalition ended. For two years, the PSD formed a minority government with its new leader, Anbal Cavaco Silva, as prime minister. In the 1987 national elections, the PSD won the Second Republic's first absolute parliamentary majority, a feat the party repeated in the 1991 elections. By consistently favoring free-market policies, the PSD benefited from Portugal's improved economy after the country joined the EC in 1986 and the electorate's return to a more conservative position after the radical politics of the mid-1970s .

By 2009 the center-right PSD was the second largest Portuguese party and natural rival to the center-left PS. One might think the internal divisions in the PS would encourage the PSD to take advantage of the situation by forging internal unity. That did not happen, as the PSD was by then on its third leader in two years. Current leader Manuela Ferreira Leite won an extremely tight three-way internal election last summer. Her selling point was that, as a former Economy Minister, she could fight the PS where they were traditionally weakest. Unfortunately, she was Economy Minister during the worst economy of the last twenty years, following which the then-PSD government was turfed out of power by a large majority that voted for the PS. Ferreira Leite subsequently denied her main rival, Pedro Passos Coelho, a party leadership position, freeing him to present his own proposals to the public in a nation-wide "listening tour." President Cavaco Silva was PSD but eschewed party infighting and strived for balance within and among the parties.

PSD backbenchers argue so much about whether the party should promote "more tax cuts" or "better tax cuts" that no one really knew -- least of all the PSD parliamentarians themselves -- the party's position. The PSD polled well on infrastructure issues and is socially more Catholic than the PS. This kept them in the picture, despite concerns regarding leadership ability.

The Socialists resumed power in the 27 September 2009 Portuguese elections. Key to the Socialist victory was the failure by the main opposition Social Democratic Party (PSD) to mount an effective campaign of its own. The right-of-center Social Democrats promised "politica de verdade" (politics of truth), but did not provide voters with a clear vision of the future. PSD leader Manuela Ferreira Leite ran a negative campaign, focusing attacks on Socrates rather than proposing new ideas, and criticizing the Socialists for "democratic asphyxia," claiming that the Socialists were controlling the press and suppressing freedom of expression. Her attacks and criticisms did not resonate with voters.

Ferreira Leite was especially criticized for political ineptitude in citing the autonomous region of Madeira, governed by the same authoritarian president since 1974, as a model of democracy. She was also dinged for hypocrisy in characterizing Socrates as dishonest while including Antonio Preto, who had been accused of corruption, on the PSD slate. Her lackluster performance in the debates, her austere image and lack of charisma, and the PSD's unpopular conservative moral discourse against same-sex marriage and abortion have also been cited for the PSD's weak performance.

Another, though less significant, factor in the PSD's poor performance may have been the refusal by Portuguese President Cavaco Silva (who led the PSD government from 1985 to 1995) to clarify statements made to the press by his press advisor alleging wiretapping of the offices of the presidency by the Socialists. While the details of this episode remained unclear, it cast the president in a negative light and undermined the PSD campaign.

Social Democratic Party (PSD) Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelhos government took office 15 June 2011. Since then, the new government was largely preoccupied with the implementation of broad austerity measures. The leader of the Social Democrats, Pedro Passos Coelho, is a former businessman who had never held public office. But he said he wants to try to help Portugal earn back the trust of investors.

Join the mailing list