Social Democratic Party (Portugal)

The Social Democratic Party (Portuguese: "Partido Social Democrata", pron. IPA2|pɐɾ'tidu susi'aɫ dɨmu'kɾatɐ) is a political party in Portugal. It is commonly known by its initials, PSD, however in voting ballots its acronym appears as PPD/PSD, the first three letters coming from the party's first name "Partido Popular Democrático" (Democratic People's Party).

The party has 75 of 230 seats of the Assembly of the Republic, and has lost the most recent Portuguese legislative election, while governing in coalition with the People's Party. The current leader is Manuela Ferreira Leite, who was elected on May 31 2008.

The party's name can be misleading: although its first official political position, after its foundation as the People's Democratic Party, was centre-left and adhered to social democracy and populism, it is nowadays a party of the centre-right and does not advocate social democracy in any usual sense of the term. However the party still adheres to populism and is still its main unifying ideology. The party left the Liberal International in 1996 and their delegates to the European Parliament have, since the late 1990s, sat with the European People's Party (EPP), along with the Conservative and Christian Democratic parties of many European countries. Previously, they had sat with the European Liberal, Democrat and Reform Party.

The party publishes the weekly "Povo Livre" (Free People).


The Social Democratic Party was born on May 6, 1974, when Francisco Sá Carneiro, Francisco Pinto Balsemão and Joaquim Magalhães Mota publicly announced the formation of what was then called PPD - Democratic People's Party (Portuguese: "Partido Popular Democrático"). On May 15, the party's first headquarters were inaugurated in Largo do Rato, Lisbon. This was followed, on June 24, with the formation of the first Political Committee, consisting of Francisco Sá Carneiro, Francisco Pinto Balsemão, Joaquim Magalhães Mota, Barbosa de Melo, Mota Pinto, Montalvão Machado, Miguel Veiga, Ferreira Júnior, António Carlos Lima, António Salazar Silva, Jorge Correia da Cunha, Jorge Figueiredo Dias and Jorge Sá Borges.

The "Povo Livre" publication was founded, its first issue being released on July 13 1974, lead by its first two directors, Manuel Alegria and Rui Machete. PPD's first major meeting was held in "Pavilhão dos Desportos", Lisbon, on October 25, and a month later, the party's first official congress would take place.

On January 17, 1975, 6300 signatures were sent to the Supreme Court so that the party could be approved as a legitimate political entity, which happened a mere 8 days later.

Alberto João Jardim was the co-founder of the Madeiran branch of PSD, and governed the autonomous archipelago for decades being elected as a member of the party.

In Government and Opposition

The Social Democratic Party participated in a number of coalition governments in Portugal between 1974 and 1979, following the Carnation Revolution. This is seen as a transitional period in Portuguese politics, in which political institutions were built and took time to stabilize. In 1979, the PSD formed an electoral alliance, known as the Democratic Alliance (AD), with the Democratic Social Center (now called the People's Party) and a couple of smaller, right wing parties. The AD won the parliamentary elections towards the end of 1979, and the PSD leader, Francisco Sá Carneiro, became Prime Minister. The AD increased its parliamentary majority in new elections called for 1980, but was devastated by the death of Sá Caneiro in an aircrash on December 4, 1980. Francisco Pinto Balsemão took over the leadership of both the Social Democratic Party and the Alliance, as well as the Prime Ministership, but lacking Sá Carneiro's charisma, he was unable to rally popular support.

The Democratic Alliance was dissolved in 1983, and in parliamentary elections that year, the Social Democrats lost to the Socialist Party. Falling short of a majority, however, the Socialists formed a grand coalition, known as the Center Bloc, with the Social Democrats. Many right-wingers in the PSD, including Aníbal Cavaco Silva, opposed participation in the Socialist-led government, and so, when Cavaco Silva was elected leader of the party on 2 June 1985, the coalition was doomed.

The Social Democrats won a plurality (but not a majority) in the general election of 1985, and Cavaco Silva became Prime Minister. Economic liberalization and tax cuts ushered in several years of economic growth, and early elections held in 1987 resulted in a landslide victory for the PSD, who captured 50.2% percent of the popular vote and 148 of the 250 parliamentary seats - the first time that any political party had mustered an absolute majority. They won the 1991 election almost as easily, but continuing high levels of unemployment eroded the popularity of the Cavaco Silva government and the PSD lost the 1995 and 1999 elections. They made a comeback in 2002, however; despite falling short of a majority, the PSD won enough seats to form a coalition with the Peoples Party, and the PSD leader, José Manuel Durão Barroso, became Prime Minister. Durão Barroso later resigned his post to become President of the European Commission, leaving the way for Pedro Santana Lopes, a man with whom he was frequently at odds, to become leader of the party and Prime Minister.

In the parliamentary election held on 20 February 2005, Santana Lopes led the PSD to its worst defeat since 1983. With a negative swing of more than 12% percent, the party won only 75 seats, a loss of 30. As the rival Socialist Party won an absolute majority, the PSD is likely to remain in opposition until 2009.

The PSD-supported candidate Aníbal Cavaco Silva won the Portuguese presidential elections in 2006.

List of leaders

*Francisco Sá Carneiro (1974–1978)
*António de Sousa Franco (1978)
*José Menéres Pimentel (1978)
*Francisco Sá Carneiro (1978-1980) (again)
*Francisco Pinto Balsemão (1981–1983)
*Nuno Rodrigues dos Santos (1983–1984)
*Carlos Mota Pinto (1984–1985)
*Aníbal Cavaco Silva (1985–1995)
*Fernando Nogueira (1995–1996)
*Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa (1996–1999)
*José Manuel Durão Barroso (1999–2004)
*Pedro Santana Lopes (2004–2005)
*Luís Marques Mendes (2005–2007)
*Luís Filipe Menezes (2007–2008)
*Manuela Ferreira Leite (as of 2008)

ee also

*Politics of Portugal
*List of political parties in Portugal

External links

* [ Social Democratic Party] official site (in Portuguese)

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