The politics of labour reforms in Portugal: Politicization and Europeanization before and after the bailout

Hélène Caune


The article focuses on the politicization of Portuguese Labour Code reforms since the early 2000s. More specifically, it looks at the link between mechanisms of politicization and Europeanization from a variety of perspectives, including decision-making processes and agenda setting, political divides and reform coalitions. By adopting a longitudinal approach, the article shows how the economic crisis and troika bailout have affected connections between politicization and Europeanization. As a rule, labour market policies have followed a continuous process of increased flexibility in recent years irrespective of governments’ partisan orientations and without any significant variations. It remains that the economic crisis – and the memorandum agreed with the troika and implemented against the backdrop of a sovereign debt crisis – have had a considerable effect on political debate and social protest while deepening the polarization that divides Portuguese trade unions and governing parties. The processes of Europeanization and politicization are addressed from a qualitative perspective that is crucial in the understanding of the politics of labour reforms in Portugal as it sheds light on the political conditions of reforms coalitions and their constraints.


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