Portugal in the 1980’s
At the end of the seventies the attempt to shift the political axis of the country to the right, together with the intention to eliminate the constitutional norms of socialist inspiration, were consistently pursued by the Democratic Alliance (AD), formed by the Social Democratic Party (PSD), the Social Democratic Center (CDS) and the small Portuguese monarchical Parthian (PPM), who had given life to the government headed by F. Sá Carneiro.
This policy seemed encouraged by the advance of the CEO (47% of the votes) in the elections of October 1980, in which the Socialist Party (PS) confirmed its strength with 28% and the Portuguese Communist Party (PCP) stood at 17%. In December, however, the election to the presidency of the Republic of A. Eanes, as candidate of the left with 57% of the votes (the leader most prestigious of the right, Sá Carneiro, had perished in a plane crash) caused the CEO’s project to fail. A difficult period thus began, characterized by the conflict between the government, led by the Social Democrat F. Pinto Balsemão (January 1981), and the Revolutionary Council which, according to the 1976 constitution, was invested with the role of guarantor of the main revolutionary achievements. This can be seen from the stark contrast that the Council itself set against the government when the latter attempted, in May, a policy of reprivatization of the basic sectors of the economy. The CEO then tried, choosing to follow a more complex and less direct strategy, to reach an agreement with the PS in order to obtain in Parliament the two-thirds majority necessary for a broad constitutional revision. This policy paid off. Relations between the PS and the PCP deteriorated rapidly (on 1 May in Porto militants of the two parties violently confronted each other), while the socialists reached an agreement with the government according to which, while maintaining a socialist option in the constitution, the Council of the Revolution was abolished, the power of the President of the Republic was reduced and the re-entry of private enterprise in the already nationalized economic sectors was allowed (August 1982).
In the new political context, relations between parties underwent profound changes due to the need to face a serious economic crisis which had its clearest index in the very high rate of inflation (about 20%). The Balsemão government resigned in December 1982, and in the early political elections of April 1983 it was the Socialists who prevailed with 36% of the votes, defeating the CEO (PSD: 27%; CDS: 12%); while the PCP, despite being increasingly marginalized, confirmed the stability of its vote (18%). In June a PS-PSD government was formed with the presidency of the socialist M. Soares, and then the AD dissolved.
The primary objective of government policy became the country’s entry into the EEC: the entire economic line of the cabinet was subordinated to it (downsizing of public spending, reprivatization of the basic industry and insurance). On a strictly political level, the sign of the turning point was given with the arrest of gen. O. de Carvalho (June 1984), accused of conspiring with the FP-25 group (Popular Forces of April 25), and later with the parliamentary approval of a new law that extended the powers of the police in cases of emergency public policy (July 1984). The negotiations for the entry of the Portugal into the EEC (March 1985) were concluded, this was effectively carried out in January 1986. Since the priority objective had been achieved,
The early political elections (October 1985) penalized this time the PS (21% of the votes) which was unable to reap the benefits of its moderate policy and instead saw the advance of the PSD (29.8% of the votes) and of the new Democratic Renewal Party (PRD), inspired by President Eanes, with 18% of the votes. The CDS dropped to 9.7% of the vote. The Communists, who presented themselves under the name Alliance for the united people, obtained 15.4% of the votes. In November A. Cavaco Silva formed a coalition government with the CDS and the abstention of the PRD. In February 1986, subverting all predictions, the socialist Soares was elected president of the Republic with 51.2% of the votes, imposing himself on the centrist D. Freitas do Amaral. This situation led to a too marked difference in orientation between the Presidency of the Republic and the Presidency of the Council; thus the government of the Social Democrat Cavaco Silva was forced to resign after a parliamentary vote that censured his activity in economic policy (April 1987) and Soares decreed the dissolution of the National Assembly. The elections marked a moderate triumph. The PSD obtained 50.1% of the votes; the PRD suffered a collapse (4.9%) and Eanes abandoned the leadership of the party in August; the CDS received 4.3% of the votes. A meager result (18%) also obtained the Democratic Coalition between communists, ecologists and leftist groups, while only a slight progress could mark the PS which stood at 22.3%.
The socialist and communist opposition to the economic-social policy of the government and the right-wing (a new single-color social democratic government was formed by Cavaco Silva in August 1987) expressed itself in a general strike led by the UGT (União Geral dos Trabalhadores, socialist) and the CGTP (Confederação Geral dos Trabalhadores Portuguesos, communist) in March 1988, to protest against the new labor legislation measures proposed by the cabinet. This clear opposition in the social field, however, did not prevent the PS from agreeing in October 1988 with the PSD for further and more radical constitutional changes which involved the cancellation of every element of Marxist inspiration in the Constitutional Charter, the reduction of the number of deputies, the institution of the referendum instrument. For Portugal 2015, please check dentistrymyth.com.
The results of the elections for the European Parliament in June 1989, mostly focused on domestic politics, reflected the difficulties of the government’s socio-economic policy: the decline of the PSD (32.7% of the votes) and of the conservative party CDS (14.1) corresponded to an increase in the PS (28.5%) and in the Communists (14.4%). This trend was confirmed in the municipal elections of December, in which the PS obtained 32.2% of the votes, having found in J. Sampaio a credible successor to Soares in the position of general secretary of the party. The policy of rapprochement between PSD and PS took a further step forward with the PSD’s decision to support Soares in the future presidential elections in 1991.
In economic policy, in view of the single European market of 1992, the government continued the privatization work which had its most significant moment (December 1990) in the sale of the remaining public shares of Banco Português do Atlântico (the country’s main bank)., while, as regards social policy and the fight against inflation, an agreement had already been signed between the government, UGT and the employees’ union which provided, among other things, for a planned multi-year rate of increase in wages, reduction of the working week, commitment to a wage bargaining line (October 1990). This policy was rewarded by the electorate in the elections of October 1991, in which the PSD obtained 50.4% of the votes and following which Cavaco Silva was confirmed as head of the government. The CP was completely marginalized, which in May 1990 had re-elected A. Cunhal as general secretary and which followed a completely orthodox line: the left-wing coalition it animated received just 8.8% of the votes. Not even the PS, with 30% of the votes, was rewarded in its line of center-left alternative, wanted by the leader Samaio, very different from that of ” cohabitation ”. The latter expressed itself in leadership government of Cavaco Silva and in the presidential one of Soares, re-elected as early as January 1991 to the presidency of the Republic with 70.4% of the votes (while the candidate of the right B. Horta obtained 14% and that of the Communist Party C. Carvalhas the 12.9%). The broad parliamentary base of the government allowed a continuation of the pro-European commitment of Portugal, whose currency joined the EMS in April 1992, even if, following the global monetary turbulence, the escudo was forced to a first devaluation in November of that same year and a subsequent one in May 1993. The Maastricht Treaty on European Union was ratified by Parliament in December 1992. Internally, the convinced policy of economic restructuring led to growing social tensions of which they were especially an expression of ‘
1993 saw the worsening of the economic crisis in the face of which the government envisaged the launch of a demanding six-year regional development plan. In the administrative elections of December 1993, the PS overtook the PSD (34%) with 35.8% of the votes, extending its control to cities such as Lisbon and Porto.