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Carlos Moedas, the new mayor-elect of Lisbon, greets supporters, Source: Carlos Moedas Facebook page

Portuguese opposition snatches Lisbon in local elections

Portuguese opposition snatches Lisbon in local elections

Socialists, however, are the overall winners from the Sunday ballot casting

The Socialist Party in Portugal is still the strongest in that country after the results from last night’s local elections are out. The crown jewel of Lisbon, however, went to the opposition Social Democratic Party (PSD), which despite its name runs on a centre-right, classical liberal platform.

Other major cities that will see a change in leadership are Coimbra and Funchal (the capital of the autonomous island of Madeira). In their cases, the mayoral seat also changed hands from the Socialists to the Social Democrats.

Seven municipalities switched political allegiance for the first time since 1976

Overall, the Socialists took 34.4% of the vote, whereas the PSD took 24%, showing that in the grand scale of things the ruling party retained its predominance, despite the retreat in some of the larger urban centres. The third position went to the Communist Party (which also includes the Greens) with 8.2% of the ballots.

The biggest upset was Lisbon, where the new mayor will be called Carlos Moedas. He unseated incumbent Fernando Medina by running on a platform promising to turn the Portuguese capital into a factory for tech startups.

In his words, “(we) start a new cycle today... which I believe begins in Lisbon but will not end in Lisbon”.

The city of Coimbra will now be headed by José Manuel Silva, who is an independent candidate but supported by the Social Democrats. He unseated Manuel Machado, who apart from being the mayor was also the President of the National Association of Portuguese Municipalities (ANMP).

As for Funchal, it apparently came as no surprise that Miguel Gouveia would lose to the Social Democrat Pedro Calado. Porto’s Rui Moreira (independent) managed to hold on to his position, however, he lost the absolute majority he previously held in the local council. Bad results for the Socialists also occurred in Figueira da Foz, where the former mayor of that Lisbon metropolis municipality and former prime minister, Pedro Santana Lopes, was elected back in office.

On a curious note, it was reported that seven municipalities have switched their political allegiance for the first time since 1976 (which were heady times in the wake of the Carnation Revolution). That, however, also means that since those first democratic elections there are still 24 other municipalities that have remained absolutely resolute in their political inclination during the past 45 years.

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