Lisbon Câmara President António Costa was swept back to power with a comfortable majority at the municipal elections on Sunday.
The PS candidate netted 44.01 per cent of the overall vote to PSD Pedro Santana Lopes’ 38.69 per cent.
The socialists gained nine ‘vereadores’, or city councillors, against seven won by the opposition and swept the board in 39 of the 53 ‘freguesias’, or parishes.
Apart from Benfica, Marvila and Olivais, all of the largest Lisbon neighbourhoods went to
“These results send a very clear political message. Whoever understood that the road ahead was to a united Lisbon won, whoever didn’t want a united Lisbon, lost,” said António Costa in his election victory speech at the Hotel Altis in the early hours of Monday morning.
However, the socialist’s victory may end up being a poisoned chalice: António Costa largely succeeded in winning Lisbon from Pedro Santana Lopes by getting into bed with the big-spending left wing BE and PCP communist party.
Accepting his loss, after an evening being hounded by reporters as he scurried to and from the two PSD headquarters on election night, Pedro Santana Lopes said he would “think calmly and seriously about being a city councillor”.
Despite winning large cities and areas of population along Portugal’s coast, with Rui Rio winning Porto and Isaltino Morais (PS Independent) Oeiras, the conservative centre-right PSD party managed to win more Câmaras (140) overall.
Reinforcing the General Election results of a fortnight ago, the PS ended up being the political winner of the local elections: the number of Câmara presidents they succeeded in electing rose from 110 to 131 and they obtained a greater percentage of votes, an extra two million, with 37.67 points.
They also bagged important cities and towns such as Évora, Leiria, Barcelos, Figueira da Foz, Tavira and Beja, which had been communist since April 25, 1974.
However, the socialists lost Faro to the PSD, which managed to hold onto Sintra for the third time running, Gaia and Coimbra.
Unsurprisingly the PSD’s João Alberto Jardim managed to retain his hold over Madeira.
The Communists, which garnered 11 per cent of the vote nationwide, picked up Setúbal, Almada, Barreiro and Palmela on the south banks of Lisbon, recovering Alpiarça, Alvito and Crato in the Alentejo.
Fátima Felgueiras, who fled the risk of imprisonment to Brazil two years ago after charges of corruption, embezzlement and abuse of power, suffered a stunning defeat in Felgueiras.
In Sunday’s local elections, 5.532,575 million people voted with a 41 per cent abstention rate, slightly above the elections in 2005 when abstentions stood at 39.03 per cent.