Edgar Valles diasval...@gmail.com Antonio Costa, the first European Chief Minister of Goan origin, won the national elections that took place on October 6, 2019, in Portugal by a large majority.
His Socialist Party (known as the PS, by its Portuguese initials) secured 36.65% of the votes and got elected 106 members of Parliament. The opposition Social-Democratic Party (PSD), lead by his rival Rui Rio, secured just 27.90% of the votes and got elected 77 deputies. However, Costa will need the support of other leftist parties, the Communist Party and the Bloco de Esquerda, as he did not get an absolute majority. In Portugal, as in India, the government needs the support of the Parliament. The PS needed 10 more MPs to rule without the support of any other party, on its own. In his victory speech, Costa made some important statements: "The Portuguese people liked my government and what we did, and showed that they want a stronger Socialist Party", "Right wing parties suffered the biggest defeat in Democratic Portugal" and "As I have always said, political stability is a essential value". What was the secret of the success? In the last four years, Portugal grew faster on average than the other European countries, in investments or in the increase of exports. The country is now much more competitive. Portugal recovered its financial credibility. The interest rate that Lisbon pays to its international creditors is now 0.5%, when it was 4% four years ago. Unemployment rate in 2015 was 12.6% and now it is down to 6.6%. The Government put an end to cuts on salaries and pensions, increasing the national minimum salary. The poor are much better off and there was a reduction in the gap between the richest and the poorest. Confidence has been regained. So, during the campaign, Costa was able to declare, proudly, that Portugal was much better now than it was in 2015, when he took over as Chief Minister, although he didn't win electorally, at that time. In those elections, the Right-wing PaF (Portugal Ahead) coalition won almost 47% of the seats in the 230-member Assembly of the Republic, but the Socialists successfully formed an alliance after the Right coalition fell. This time round, the victory of Costa and the Socialist Party is even more important because there are very few European countries with a leftist government in power. Most of the countries have Conservative governments and populism is growing everywhere. In fact, even in Portugal an extremist right wing party, called 'Chega' (which means 'Enough') was able to enter in Parliament, though with just a single deputy. Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, the President of Republic, has appointed Costa as Chief Minister. Currently, he is forming government. Costa said that the ministers would be basically the same and that he will go on working for the benefit of Portuguese people. ### * Edgar Valles is a Lisbon-based Goan advocate, author and former President of the cultural centre in the Portuguese capital, the Casa de Goa. See http://www.casadegoa.org/ [Edited by Frederick Noronha]