Local elections: Only one new mayor as PS dominates in Algarve

Only one new mayor was elected in the Algarve following Sunday’s local elections. The Socialist Party (PS) dominated once again, winning over 46% of votes and securing its control over 10 local councils. But while winners celebrate and losers try to figure out what went wrong, one recurrent aspect stands out – over half of the Algarve’s eligible voters did not go to the polls.

The Algarve’s abstention levels reached 52.56% this year. Only Setúbal registered higher levels (54.48%).

Portugal’s President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa said himself after casting his vote that the country’s abstention levels worried him and that something needs to be done to get people to vote.

Those who did vote gave the Socialists an even stronger hold on the region. Ten mayors continue to represent the trademark PS pink, with the PSD running five councils and Silves being the only communist-led borough in the region.

Conceição Cabrita (PSD) is the only new mayor in the region and will be taking office in Vila Real de Santo António. She won 44.95% of votes and took over the spot left open by Luís Gomes who is now dedicating his time to his other passion: music.

José Amarelinho (PS) was re-elected in Aljezur, receiving 58.63% of votes, as was Adelino Soares (PS) in Vila do Bispo (54.94%).

Lagos also remains a Socialist borough after Joaquina Matos (PS) celebrated a big win over the opposition, securing 52.98% of votes.

Portimão continued its 43-year Socialist run, re-electing Isilda Gomes as mayoress (44.56%).

Rui André (PSD) will also remain as mayor in Monchique (43.50%).

Rosa Palma was re-elected in Silves (52.65%) and is the only CDU mayoress in the Algarve, while Francisco Martins (PS) celebrated an outstanding win in Lagoa (61%).

Albufeira, the region’s tourism ‘capital’, remains a PSD-led council after Carlos Silva e Sousa came out on top winning 42.55% of votes.

Another crushing victory was registered in Loulé where Vítor Aleixo (PS) was re-elected with 65.90% of votes.

Rogério Bacalhau (PSD) also had a victorious election night in Faro, securing 43.94% of votes and ensuring a majority of councillors unlike the last four years.

Vítor Guerreiro (PS) tightened his grip on São Brás de Alportel (61.80%), as well as António Pina (PS) in Olhão (51.75%) and Jorge Botelho in Tavira (58.35%).

Castro Marim saw the narrowest win in the region, with Francisco Amaral maintaining his post by securing 37.13% and just 32 votes more than his PS rival.

Last but not least, Alcoutim remains a PS-led council with Osvaldo Gonçalves winning over 66% of votes.

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PS municipal victory marks dawn of new political cycle

National || Almost instant analysis of Sunday’s round of municipal elections showed PS Socialists ‘stronger than ever’.

As Europe watched in dismay at the déjà-vu political horrors playing out in Spain, here it was the moment for another of Portugal’s quiet revolutions.

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

Before the elections, the former PSD prime minister vowed no matter what the result, he would be staying on as leader.

On Monday, he was forced to admit that he won’t be putting his name forwards for re-election – to the relief and undisguised delight of party faithful.

The surprises of the national ballot were in the detail: 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’s Fernando Medina).

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

Oeiras returning ‘hero’ Isaltino Morais’ message was exactly this. “Power is not a position. It is the capacity to hear people.”

The fire-ravaged borough of Pedrógão Grande (traditionally PSD) also turned its back on tradition – as has its mayor Valdemar Alves, formerly PSD and now re-elected as PS.

In the Alentejo – a bastion of Communism – the PS has gained considerable ground, including in Beja.

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

Results just after midnight 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).

By the final count, PS councils were up to 161 (11 up on the final count in 2013), PSD had reached 98 and CDU had mustered 24.

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

The result 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 requiring the support of ‘left-wing radicals’ (PCP Communists, Bloco de Esquerda, the Greens and PAN which currently make up Portugal’s so called ‘geringonça’ and all of whom did singularly badly in these elections).

But, more importantly, the result heralds something ‘outlying areas’ – like the Algarve – have been clamouring for decades.

“This will be the mandate for decentralisation,” Costa promised on Sunday night. “We’ll make the greatest State reform since 1976.” And that – when all the week’s analysis and sound bites on PSD ‘humiliation’ are over – is what hundreds of thousands of voters and councils will be waiting for.