Strategic realignment of parties in the legislative antechamber – The Economic Journal


It is the first biweekly debate with the prime minister in the Assembly of the Republic since the European elections held on 26 May. It does not have a pre-defined theme and at this time there is no more predominant subject in the political and media agenda, so the main focus will be on the eventual strategic realignment of the parties, in the aftermath of the European ones and in the antechamber of the legislative ones scheduled for October.

With regard to the Government and the PS, the priority must be to protect the side of the degradation and insufficiency of the public services. The most used tactic during the legislature has been to announce novelties – that is, new investments or legislative initiatives – even if these intentions are not followed in practice. Moreover, Prime Minister António Costa has already pointed to "investment in public services" and the "fight against corruption" as priorities for the next legislative process.

It is likely that it will be able to move forward with new declarations of intent in these matters, preventing or disarming any criticism from the opposition (and the government solution partners). On the other hand, it will not fail to evoke the weak result obtained by the PSD and the CDS-PP in the European elections, as a form of self-legitimization and projection of political force.

Construction of alternatives

On the opposition side, the PSD is a mystery. The defeat in the European elections was painful and exposed again some worrying phenomena for a party with ambitions to return to power, namely the confirmation of a great loss of electorate in the main urban centers, where the legislative elections are decided (via the Hondt method). Internal opposition to Rui Rio's leadership does not have room for maneuver until October, but this temporary gap of relative pacification has not prevented the worst electoral result ever in Europe, nor does it dissipate gloomy forecasts for the legislative ones.

Today's debate may serve to test a strategic realignment of the PSD, pointing out the path that will run through October. Focusing perhaps on the reformist incapacity of the current Government, practically in current management since the approval of the last State Budget.

As for the CDS-PP, the leader Assunção Cristas has already said that she has noticed the "signal" given by the voters in the European and, under internal pressure, will have in today's debate a first test of fire. Given the various declarations he has made since May 26, a strategic change is anticipated for the legislative campaign, which may start with a less tense and more constructive opposition. That is, less focused on the diagnosis of problems and accusations of responsibility and more dedicated to the presentation of concrete and alternative proposals.

In that sense, the interpellations to the Prime Minister in the Assembly of the Republic will be an important barometer. It will also be interesting to note how Cristas will try to disassemble the new slogan of the "right accounts" of the PS, precisely (and not without irony) the PSD / CDS-PP Government master line between 2011 and 2015.

Three structural matters

On the left, both the BE and the PCP should focus on the three main issues that remain pending in the Assembly of the Republic: Basic Health Law, Basic Housing Law and Labor Law. To arrive at the end of the legislature without closing these structural matters will no longer be understood as a failure of the "contraption." And a hypothetical (although unlikely) understanding of the PS with the PSD in any of them would be a bad harbinger for the reissue of the "contraption" in the post-October period. Today's debate may bring new signals or developments in the negotiations, putting the new pivot Duarte Cordeiro, whose first few months as Deputy Secretary of State and Parliamentary Affairs have been quite troubled.

On the other hand, it is important to take into account possible strategic changes of the bloc and the communists in the aftermath of the European elections: participation in the "contraband" seems to be generating distinct electoral results for the BE (up) and the PCP (down) , while the PAN threatens to become a relevant piece in the next legislature.



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