The Condition of Portuguese Democracy during the Troika’s Intervention, 2011-15

André Freire

Abstract


Four main elements characterized Portuguese democracy during the financial bailout by the Troika: first, a government that governed well beyond its 2011 electoral mandate; second, an enormous imbalance in the sacrifices required of citizens (wage earners and retired) and capital; third, powerful delegitimization as a consequence of poor economic and public finance results; fourth, the last of the problems behind Portuguese dissatisfaction with how democracy functioned was, until the 2015 elections, the opposition’s inability to propose alternatives, primarily because the Partido Socialista (PS – Socialist Party) was a weak opposition to the government and until recently the left-wing parties seemed unable to cooperate to create a governmental alternative. What we show here with updated data (2012 and 2014) and specific measures to tap the phenomena is that there are specific elements to the erosion of democratic support and institutional trust as a result of the Troika years and the way austerity policies were imposed by the right-wing government (2011–15), as well as due to the pattern of opposition until the elections of 4 October 2015. The 2015 general election brought about major changes. The resulting minority Socialist Party PS government, supported in parliament by the parties of the radical left – Bloco de Esquerda (BE – Left Bloc), Partido Comunista Português (PCP – Portuguese Communist Party) and Partido Ecologista ‘Os Verdes’ (PEV – Ecology Party ‘The Greens’) – marks a major change with left-wing parties cooperating for the first time in the government of Portugal.

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