The Portuguese Party System: Evolution in Continuity?
The ‘third wave of democratization’ generated renewed interest in party systems. As the first of these ‘third wave’ democracies, Portugal represents an interesting yet relatively understudied case, contributing to the study of how party systems develop over time in more recent democracies. As this chapter highlights, the Portuguese party system became institutionalised quickly after democratisation, despite the absence of mass parties or of a pre-existing party system that was restored with democratisation. Likewise, it has remained remarkably stable over time, be it in terms of the main parties of the party system, be it in terms of the main patterns of interaction. This stability has largely endured even with the bailout that Portugal underwent from 2011 to 2014. Unlike other bailout countries—and, indeed, many Western European party systems—the Portuguese party system has not seen major electoral earthquakes and realignments. However, the post-bailout period has seen a change in interparty interactions, with an unprecedented level of cooperation between the parties of the left that has been dubbed the “contraption”. The chapter examines the potential implications of this cooperation for the party system, and explores some of the systemic factors that helped bring it about.
This research was funded by the Portuguese Science and Technology Foundation FCT), by the Programa Operacional Competitividade e Internacionalização (COMPETE 2020) and by the Programa Operacional Regional de Lisboa (PO Lisboa), in its European Community Fund FEDER component, as part of the ‘Changing European Elections’ project (POCI-01-0145-FEDER-016887; PTDC/IVC-CPO/3481/2014).
I am grateful to João Moniz for assistance in collecting data for this chapter.
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