Political Discontentment in Portugal Post-Troika: Risks and Opportunities

  • Conceição Pequito TeixeiraEmail author
  • Paulo de Almeida Pereira
  • Ana Maria Belchior


The 2008 crisis has revealed, in Portugal, a political culture characterised by deeply dissatisfied and sceptical democrats, who have made the recourse to “exit” strategies of the political system (through electoral abstention) the prime “punishing” answer to the political class’s austerity policies. This is a very different attitude from the “critical citizens” who are characterised by a more demanding and challenging attitude towards the status quo through protest and vote in new radical and populist parties, as is happening in other peripheral European countries. This chapter seeks to answer some of the following questions: Faced with the rapid resurgence of the narratives of Southern European “exceptionalism”, how was the Portuguese democracy able, or not able to weather the legitimacy crisis? To what extent do the diffuse and specific types of support for the political system remain independent of each other in these hard times? What changes have occurred in the evolution of these two types of political support during this period? Are there signs that the economic crisis created transitory (pendulum effects) or lasting and stronger effects (catalyst effects) in the legitimacy of the political system in the citizens’ eyes?


  1. Abdelzadeh, A., Özdemir, M., & Maarten, V. Z. (2015). Dissatisfied Citizens: An Asset to or a Liability on the Democratic Functioning of Society? Scandinavian Political Studies, 38(4), 410–436.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Almond, G., & Verba, S. (1963). The Civic Culture: Political Attitudes and Democracy in Five Nations. Princeton: Princeton University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Caldas, J. C. (2012). The Consequences of Austerity Policies in Portugal. International Policy Analysis, 1–5.Google Scholar
  4. Dahlberg, S., Linde, J., & Holmberg, S. (2013). Dissatisfied Democrats: A Matter of Representation or Performance? (Working Paper Series 2013: 8). The Quality of Government Institute (QOG), University of Gothenburg.Google Scholar
  5. Dalton, R. J. (2004). Democratic Challenges. Democratic Choices. The Erosion of Political Support in Advanced Industrial Democracies. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  6. Dalton, R. J. (2013). The Apartisan American: Dealignment and Changing Electoral Politics. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  7. Dalton, R. J. (2014). The Civic Culture Transformed: From Allegiant to Assertive Citizens. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Dalton, R. J., & Welzel, C. (2014). The Civic Culture Transformed: Fom Allegiant to Assertive Culture. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  9. De Giorgi, E., & Santana-Pereira, J. (2016). The 2015 Portuguese Legislative Election: Widening the Coalitional Space and Bringing the Extreme Left in. South European Society and Politics, 21(4), 451–468.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. De Sousa, L. (2008). Clientelism and the Quality(ies) of Democracy. Public and Policy Aspects (DIS Working Paper 2008/2). Center for the Study of Imperfections in Democracy. Budapest: Central European University.Google Scholar
  11. Diamond, L. J. (2002). Thinking About Hybrid Regimes. Journal of Democracy, 13(2), 21–35.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Doorenspleet, R. (2012). Critical Citizens, Democratic Support and Satisfaction in African Democracies. International Political Science Review, 33(3), 279–300. Scholar
  13. Easton, D. (1965). A Systems Analysis of Political Life. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  14. Easton, D. (1975). A Reassessment of the Concept of Political Support. The British Journal of Political Science, 5(4), 435–457.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Estanque, E., & Costa, H. A. (2017). Building the “Contraption”: Anti-austerity Movements and Political Alternative in Portugal. In Challenging Austerity (pp. 125–146). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  16. European Commission. (2015). Speech Programme and an Investment Stabilisation Function.Google Scholar
  17. Fails, M. D., & Pierce, H. N. (2010). Changing Mass Attitudes and Democratic Deepening. Political Research Quarterly, 63(1), 174–187.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Feng, Y. (2003). Democracy, Governance, and Economic Performance: Theory and Evidence. Cambridge: MIT press.Google Scholar
  19. Ferreira, A. R. et al. (2017). Portuguese Government Solution: The Fourth Way to Social-Democratic Politics. Brussels: Foundation for European Progressive Studies.Google Scholar
  20. Foa, R. S., & Mounk, Y. (2017). The Signs of Deconsolidation. Journal of Democracy, 28(1), 5–15.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Freire, A. (2013). A crise como oportunidade e a terapia de choque. In E. Paz Ferreira (Ed.), A Austeridade Cura? A Austeridade Mata? (pp. 73–108). Lisboa: Associação Académica da Faculdade de Direito de Lisboa.Google Scholar
  22. Gjefsen, T. (2012). Sources of Regime Legitimacy. Quality of Government and Electoral Democracy. Oslo: Department of Political Science, University of Oslo.Google Scholar
  23. Gurnani, S. (2016). The Financial Crisis in Portugal: Austerity in Perspective. Volume 13—Portugal: Navigating from Crisis to Growth 12. Consulted May 2018.
  24. Hofferbert, R. I., & Klingemann, H.-D. (2001). Democracy and Its Discontents in Post-wall Germany. International Political Science Review, 22(4), 363–378.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Inglehart, R. (1977). The Silent Revolution: Changing Values and Political Styles Among Western Publics. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  26. Inglehart, R. (1990). Culture Shift in Advanced Industrial Society. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  27. Inglehart, R. (1997). Modernization and Postmodernization: Cultural, Economic, and Political Change in 43 Societies. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  28. Inglehart, R. (2003). How Solid Is Mass Support for Democracy—And How Can We Measure It? PS. Political Science & Politics, 36(1), 51–57.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Klingemann, H.-D. (1999). Mapping Political Support in the 1990s: A Global Analysis. In P. Norris (Ed.), Critical Citizens. Global Support for Democratic Governance (pp. 31–56). Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Klingemann, H.-D. (2013). Dissatisfied Democrats. Evidence from Old and New Democracies. Wissenschaftszentrum fuer Sozialforschung, Berlim. Consulted September 2016.
  31. Lagos, M. (2003). Support for and Satisfaction with Democracy. International Journal of Public Opinion Research, 15(4), 471–487.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Linde, J., & Ekman, J. (2003). Satisfaction with Democracy: A Note on a Frequently Used Indicator in Comparative Politics. European Journal of Political Research, 42(3), 391–408.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Logan, C., & Mattes, R. (2012). Democratizing the Measurement of Democratic Quality: Public Attitude Data and the Evaluation of African Political Regimes. European Political Science, 11(4), 469–491.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Magalhães, P. C. (2014a). The Elections of the Great Recession in Portugal: Performance Voting Under a Blurred Responsibility for the Economy. Journal of Elections, Public Opinion and Parties, 24(2), 180–202.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Magalhães, P. C. (2014b). Introduction—Financial Crisis, Austerity, and Electoral Politics. Journal of Elections, Public Opinion and Parties, 24(2), 125–133.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Magalhães, P. C. (2017). A Tale of Two Elections: Information, Motivated Reasoning, and the Economy in the 2011 and 2015 Portuguese Elections. Análise Social, 52(225), 736–758.Google Scholar
  37. Mahoney, J. (2007). Qualitative Methodology and Comparative Politics. Comparative Political Studies, 40(2), 122–144.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Morlino, L. (2009). Are There Hybrid Regimes? Or Are They Just an Optical Illusion? European Political Science Review, 1(2), 273–296.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Moury, C., & Freire, A. (2013). Austerity Policies and Politics: The Case of Portugal. Pôle Sud, 39(2), 35–56. Consulted May 2018.
  40. Norris, P. (1999). Critical Citizens. Global Support for Democratic Governance. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Norris, P. (2000). A Virtuous Circle: Political Communications in Postindustrial Societies. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Norris, P. (2011). Democratic Deficit: Critical Citizens Revisited. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Pereira, P. T., & Wemans, L. (2012). Portugal and the Global Financial Crisis: Short-Sighted Politics, Deteriorating Public Finances and the Bailout Imperative (Working Paper No. 26/201/DE/UECE). School of Economics and Management, Technical University of Lisbon.Google Scholar
  44. Puddington, A., & Roylance, T. (2017). Populist and Autocrats: The Dual Threat to Global Democracy.
  45. Rodríguez-Teruel, J., Barrio, A., & Barberà, O. (2016). Fast and Furious: Podemos’ Quest for Power in Multi-level Spain. South European Society and Politics, 21(4), 561–585.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Rohlfing, I. (2012). Case Studies and Causal Inference: An Integrative Framework. London: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Rothstein, B. (2009). Creating Political Legitimacy Electoral Democracy Versus Quality of Government. American Behavioral Scientist, 53(3), 311–330.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Schedler, A., & Sarsfield, R. (2007). Democrats with Adjectives: Linking Direct and Indirect Measures of Democratic Support. European Journal of Political Research, 46(5), 637–659.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Stavrakakis, Y., & Katsambekis, G. (2014). Left-Wing Populism in the European Periphery: The Case of SYRIZA. Journal of Political Ideologies, 19(2), 119–142.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Stefan, D., Linde, J., & Holmberg, S. (2014). Democratic Discontent in Old and New Ddemocracies. Scholar
  51. Teixeira, C. P. (2018). Quality of Democracy in Portugal. Lisbon: FFMS.Google Scholar
  52. Teixeira, C. P., Tsatsanis, E., & Belchior, A. M. (2014). Support for Democracy in Times of Crisis: Diffuse and Specific Regime Support in Portugal and Greece. South European Society and Politics, 19(4), 501–518.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Conceição Pequito Teixeira
    • 1
    Email author
  • Paulo de Almeida Pereira
    • 2
  • Ana Maria Belchior
    • 3
  1. 1.Institute of Social and Political Sciences (ISCSP), University of LisbonLisbonPortugal
  2. 2.Universidade Nova de LisboaLisbonPortugal
  3. 3.Department of Political Science and Public PoliciesISCTE-IULLisbonPortugal

Personalised recommendations