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10.7 million Portuguese vote today for the European Elections. [Gabinete do Parlamento Europeu em Portugal]
10.7 million Portuguese vote today for the European Elections. [Gabinete do Parlamento Europeu em Portugal]

This article will be updated several times throughout 26 May.

The developments

21:30 Lisbon time: As expected, exit polls in Portugal indicate a victory for the country’s ruling Socialist Party PS, S&D-affiliated. The big surprise of the night comes with the rise of PAN (‘Animals-Nature-Party’), which is expected to elect its first MEP, 10 years after its establishment.

  • PS (S&D): 8 – 9 MEPs
  • PSD (EPP): 6 – 7 MEPs
  • CDS (EPP): 1 – 2 MEPs
  • Bloco (GUE/NGL): 2 – 3 MEPs
  • CDU (GUE/NGL): 1 – 2 MEPs
  • PAN (Greens): 1 – 2 MEPs

“These election results show the confidence people have in the socialist party,” said PS party under secretary-general Ana Catarina Mendes in reaction to the vote. She underlined that the right was the big loser of the night, and added “the parties that cooperate with us have also seen an increase in support, which is extremely positive,” refering to the communists CDU and far-left Bloco.

The biggest opposition parties, PSD and CDS, received the news in deep silence. Both parties in the right have been losing political support, and these elections do not seem to predict good results in October, when Portugal elects a new Assembly and a new government.

18:00 Lisbon time: Portuguese participation rate at these elections at 16:00 was 23%. An hour left until the voting sections close, it’s possible at this time to say this will probably be the EU elections in Portugal with the highest abstention percentage.

But this does not mean it’s the lowest participation ever. As this year there are 1.3 million more voters registered – due to the automatic registration of emigrants – it’s possible we will see a higher abstention rate coupled with higher participation (compared with the previous elections of 2014).

12:00 Lisbon time: Most lead candidates have already voted this morning, urging the Portuguese people to vote before they start their day.

Voter turnout is at 11%, which is lower than 5 years ago, but not significantly different.

A new electronic system is being tested in 50 voting stations in Évora (Alentejo region), and turnout is much higher than usual according to Público newspaper’s journalists on site.

8:00 Lisbon time: Elections sections open in continental Portugal. Abroad, some people have been able to vote on Saturday in Portuguese embassies throughout the world.

Yesterday, the Portuguese President of the Republic, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, urged citizens to vote: “Don’t let 20 or 25% of the population decide for you what the future is going to look like”, he mentioned. “The decisions made at European-level nowadays are as important as the ones we do here.”

The procedure:

Polling sections open at 8:00 and work until 19:00. (Time zone CET-1) However, people who have entered the voting sections before 19:00 still have the right to vote after this time if they couldn’t.

The first results of the exit polls may be announced after the closure of all the voting sections in Portugal – which will happen this afternoon at 20:00. The Ministry of Home Affairs will announce the official results 15 days after in order to process the national and foreign electoral sections’ results.

Portuguese nationals abroad will be able to vote in 156 polling stations in 70 countries – a 20% increase compared to the previous European elections in 2014. There are currently 1.4 million Portuguese citizens in this situation.

The stakes:

Portuguese are voting to elect 21 MEPs. The Socialist Party (S&D affiliated) is predicted to elect between 8 and 10 MEPs. The second biggest voting intentions favoured the social democrats PSD (EPP- affiliated).

Five parties are assured of electing MEPs, the aforementioned PS and PSD, the right-wing conservatives CDS-PP (EPP-affiliated), and the Left-Bloc and the communist coalition CDU (who usually join the leftist Nord Green Left).

According to Friday’s polls, other, both smaller and very recent parties, are in the race to elect their first MEP: such as the ecologist PAN – which currently holds a seat in parliament – and the liberal Aliança.

The exit polls:

In Portugal, exit poll results should not be announced before the end of the election day at 20:00. From the main television outlets, only RTP will have special coverage starting at 19:00. SIC and TVI are expected to do specific coverage on their specialised channels, SIC Notícias (‘SIC News’) and TVI24.

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