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Portugal’s electorate at a glance

A street in Oporto

Portugal’s population of almost 10.3 million (2.3% of all EU citizens, without the UK) elects 21 out of the 705 MEPs, having maintained its number of representatives after the Brexit restructure of the European Parliament.

Most of its voters are still concentrated in the major urban areas – Lisbon and Oporto – which together account for more than thirty percent of the Portuguese electorate (roughly 32%). The third biggest electoral force are the Portuguese living abroad – mostly in France, Brazil, and the UK.

Due to a recently introduced change in the census project, there was an increase of over a million new voters in the end of 2018, compared to 2017. A new legislative policy automatically registered emigrated Portuguese citizens as voters, facilitating the electoral process for Portuguese living and working abroad – over 1.4 million people. It’s still to be analysed how/if this change will affect the results, comparing to 5 years ago.

The last European elections of 2014 saw a clear victory of the socialist party, who elected 8 MEPs for the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D), against the coalition of the social-democrats with the Christian-democrats CDS, who together couldn’t elect more than 7 MEPS for the European People’s Party (EPP).

At the time, 3 years of austerity measures following a bailout programme in 2011 proved unpopular for the PSD-CDS coalition government, triggering the narrow victory of the socialist party, but predicting enough popular support for António Costa (the socialist leader and current Portuguese PM) to lead a coalition in 2015 with the Eurosceptic far-left (BE), communists (PCP) and eco-socialists (PEV), securing a majority in parliament, despite losing the popular vote at the legislative elections.

Since joining the EU in 1986, Portuguese participation in the elections has lingered with only 33.67% of the electorate voting in 2014, compared with 72.47% in 1987.   

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