230 legislators will be appointed today for four years in the Portuguese parliamentary elections

Elections to the Portuguese parliament will be held today, with 230 lawmakers to be elected for four-year terms. The ruling

portugal elections costas

Photo: Reuters

Elections to the Portuguese parliament will be held today, with 230 lawmakers to be elected for four-year terms.

The ruling centre-left Socialist Party (PS) and its leader Antonio Costa are expected to stay in power. His major competition is from the centre-right Social Democratic Party (PSD).

Portugal’s current national debt—120% of GDP—is the centrepiece of Costa’s campaign. He has promised to lower the debt to 100% of GDP by 2023. In so doing, he has signalled a reliance on continued export growth—which accounted for more than 40% of total growth in 2018—to improve Portugal’s finances.

Current opinion polls favour PS over PSD 38% to 26%. However, it remains to be seen whether Costa will win an absolute majority or have to enter a coalition with his left-wing supporters, as occurred in 2015.

Under Costa’s premiership, unemployment has fallen to 6.7% and the budget deficit to 0.5% (the lowest level in 45 years), at the cost of cuts to infrastructure and healthcare spending. A coalition government would thus likely be contentious if Costa’s restrictive public spending policies clash with the left’s support for higher investment.