Local elections blow to Portugal’s government
Portuguese voters punished the ruling Social Democrats for painful austerity, boosting opposition and independent candidates in municipal elections on Sunday, Reuters reports. Preliminary results and exit poll projections showed large defeats in Lisbon, Porto and Sintra. Antonio Costa from the main opposition Socialists was re-elected mayor of Lisbon by a landslide, winning more than half the votes cast - an improvement of up to 10 percentage points on his 2009 result. There was a record number of 80 mayoral candidates standing as independents in the first local election for 308 municipalities since Portugal got under the bailout programme.
Jornal de Negocios writes while the results will weaken Passos Coelho’s government it does not change the austerity policy adopted. The Constitutional Court is much more threatening. "In the short term the results will not have much impact. It may scratch off a little varnish, but the austerity course remains, the article quotes an analyst.
While the president Cavaco Silva said the future of the government did not depend on the outcome of local electiosn, Passos Coelho acknowledged that a “national reading” of the results in Portugal’s 308 municipalities was inevitable, according to the FT.