Social Democratic Party

Published 18th January, 2011

The PSD was founded in May 1974 as the Popular Democratic Party (PPD) and became the Social Democratic Party or PSD in 1976. In 1975 they took part in the Constituent Assembly election and were the second largest party with 81 seats and 26.4% of the vote.

In 1976 the PSD dropped 8 seats to 73 out of 263 seats and with 24.4% of the vote. But by 1979 they increased their percentage of the vote to 45.3% and took 128 seats (PSD 80 seats), a net increase of 55 seats along with their partner party, the Democratic Social Centre (CDS) under the banner of Democratic Alliance.

In 1980 the Democratic Alliance increased its share of the vote to 47.59% and took 134 (PSD 82 seats) of the 250 seats. By 1983 the Socialist Party had the upper hand again and the PSD took only 75 seats and 30% of the vote. They entered into a coalition with the Socialist party.

In 1985 the PS led coalition government lost a vote of confidence and another election was held on 6th October. In this election the PSD won 88 seats and 29.9% of the vote. A new party the Democratic Renovator Party came third with 45 seats and entered into a coalition with the PSD until 1987. In that year the PSD gained 60 seats and took 148 of the 250 seats with 50.2% of the vote. The Democratic Renovator Party dropped 38 seats and were left with just 4 seats and 5% of the vote. The PSD were able to govern on their own.

The PSD retained office in 1991 with 50% of the vote and 135 seats, a net loss of 13 seats. By 1995 the PS were back and the PSD dropped 47 seats ending up with just 88 setas and 34.1% of the vote in the 230 seats Assembly. The PSD dropped back again in 1999, taking 81 seats and 32.3% of the vote.

By 2002 the Social Democratic Party were back and increased the number of seats to 105 with 40.2% of the vote. The Prime Minister was José Manuel Barroso (current President of the European Commission). But by 2005 the Socialist Party were in control once more. The PSD dropped 30 seats to 75 seats and 28.8% of the vote.

The PS held on in 2009 whilst the PSD gained six seats with a total of 81 seats and 29.1% of the vote.

Although the President plays a largely formal role this area has also been a battleground between the parties.

In 1996 Aníbal Cavaco Silva of the PSD lost to PS Presidential candidate Jorge Sampaio and Sampaio increased his percentage of the vote in the 2001 election against PSD; CDS/PP candidate Joaquim Martins Ferreira do Amaral.

In 2006 Sampaio could not stand again, having completed his two terms, and PSD candidate Aníbal Cavaco Silva won in the first round with 50.5% of the vote. He is standing again in the 2011 election and is leading the opuinion polls.

The PSD is a member of the European Democrat Union (EDU).

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