By Gabriel Hershman
Santana Lopes’s complaints about the “mega-fraud”, allegedly perpetrated by pollsters, proved unfounded.
The PSD held its election night ‘party’ at the Hotel Dom Pedro in Amoreiras. The atmosphere was muted and downbeat from the outset. Nobody, perhaps not even Santana Lopes himself, seriously expected the PSD to win. But the scale of the defeat, first ushered in by exit polls at 8pm, was greeted with shock and silence. Party activists visibly blanched and consoled each other as TV screens flashed scenes of celebrations in the rival camp. People were particularly stunned when it became clear that Paulo Portas’s party had been outvoted by Jerónimo de Sousa’s Communist Party, a 57-year-old Marxist and former metal worker of the “old school”. All hope was lost at that point.
Press and party members greeted Portas’s resignation speech with silence and polite applause. Then the press waited for the former Prime Minister, whose seven-month reign will now merit a mere footnote in Portuguese political history. Family members trouped in and sat quietly in the front row, their resigned contemplation captured by photographers.
At 11pm, a visibly shaken Santana Lopes arrived in the hall, cheered on by flag-waving supporters. He congratulated José Sócrates and declared it had been an honour to serve Portugal during his short-lived government. But he also took another barb at President Sampaio, alluding to the difficulty of fighting an election at such an inopportune moment. Then he was gone, the hotel quickly emptied and the press entourage went in search of the victor. The brief and very troubled premiership of Pedro Santana Lopes was at an end. Gabriel Hershman