“Costa thrashes Passos”: PS municipal victory “marks dawn of new political cycle”

Today’s front pages are full of analysis following Sunday’s round of municipal elections, the results of which show PS Socialists ‘stronger than ever’

As Europe watched in dismay at the déja-vu political horrors playing out in Spain, here it was the moment for another ‘quiet revolution’.

Slowly but surely the country continues to shake off the politics of the right, with beleaguered PSD leader Pedro Passos Coelho forced to admit that he ‘got it all wrong’.

The surprises of the national ballot were in the detail: not one council elected the “bloco de geringonça” (the alliance that supports the current government), Communists have lost traditional ground to the Socialists, Oeiras (just outside Lisbon) opted for an independent as Mayor, returning a former PSD “dinosaur” condemned to jail for fiscal fraud, and in Lisbon CDS leader Assunção Cristas clinched more votes than PSD adversary Teresa Leal (still losing ultimately to PS’ Fernando Medina).

Bit by bit, voters are ostensibly listening more to what people have to say than heeding the colour of their politics.

Isaltino Morais’ message was exactly this.

The fire-ravaged borough of Pedrógão Grande (traditionally PSD) also turned its back on tradition – as had its mayor Valdemar Alves.

The Alentejo – a bastion of Communism – turned PS.

The Algarve – overwhelmingly PS – stayed its habitual pink, with just a smattering of orange PSD boroughs, of which Monchique’s sees popular mayor Rui André re-elected for a third (and final) term.

Results just after midnight last night showed the PS nationally ‘way ahead’ with 140 borough councils.

The PSD managed to retain 86 (having lost 20), the CDU Communists 18 (having lost 16).

As popular tabloid Correio da Manhã explained: “Never before has the local political map had one colour so dominant. The PS leaders the majority of municipal councils”.

It signals a new political cycle, say leader writers, one in which the party of António Costa has every chance of winning the next legislative elections without needing the support of ‘left-wing radicals’ (PCP Communists, Bloco de Esquerda, the Greens and PAN which currently make up Portugal’s so called ‘geringonça’).

But more importantly, it promises something ‘outlying areas’ like the Algarve have been clamouring for for decades.

“This will be the mandate for decentralisation”, Costa promised last night. “We’ll make the greatest State reform since 1976”.

And that – when all this week’s analysis and soundbites on PSD ‘humiliation’ are over – is what hundreds of thousands of voters and councils are waiting for.

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