Lisbon: Portugal’s incumbent Prime Minister Antonio Costa’s Socialists won a general election on Sunday after presiding over a period of solid economic growth following years of austerity, near total results showed.
The Socialist Party (PS) took 37 per cent of the vote, followed by the center-right Social Democrats (PSD) with 28 per cent, with 98 per cent of constituencies counted, according to the interior ministry.
That means the PS, which has governed for the past four years with the support of two smaller hard-left parties, will increase its presence in the 230-seat parliament but still fall just shy of an outright majority once all seats in the assembly are awarded.
The results buck the trend of declining center-left fortunes and the rise of far-right populist forces seen elsewhere in Europe.
The question now is who Costa, 58, a former Lisbon mayor, will pick as his allies to stay in power.
“Whatever the result is, we must guarantee stability,” Costa told reporters just before polling stations closed and the first exit polls were announced.
After the last general election in 2015 in which the PS finished second, Costa convinced the Communists and the Left Bloc to support a minority Socialist government, an unprecedented alliance that foes nicknamed the “geringonca”, or odd contraption.
This time the Socialists have alternatives, political analyst Pedro Norton told public television RTP.
“This is an incentive for it to govern alone, by searching for ad hoc agreements” when it wants to pass laws, he said.