Portugal has been a member of the European Union since 1987, when they first elected a delegation of MEPs. Portugal votes as a single constituency, with seats being distributed by party lists. They will elect 22 MEPs in 2009, after electing 24-25 at each previous European election.
The main parties in Portuguese politics are:
- The centre left Socialist Party (PS – Party of European Socialists) is Portugal’s sole governing party, they won 12 seats in 2004.
- The centre-right Social Democratic Party (PSD – European People’s Party) is Portugal’s major conservative party. In 2004 they ran in coalition with the People’s Party as Força Portugal, winning nine seats between them.
- The left-wing Democratic Unity Coalition (CDU) is a coalition of the Communist Party (PCP – European United Left) and the Portuguese Greens (European Greens). While the Greens run on the same ticket, and hold seats in the national Parliament under the CDU platform, it appears that both CDU MEPs are aligned with the Communiist Party and EUL.
- The left-wing Left Bloc (BE – European United Left) holds one seat in the European Parliament.
- The conservative People’s Party (CDS/PP – European People’s Party) is the most right wing of Portugal’s mainstream political parties. They ran in coalition with the PSD in 2004 but will run separately in 2009.
The 2004 election saw a decisive victory for the Socialist Party, with Forca Portugal only winning 9 seats, with barely one-third of the vote, while the three main left-wing tickets collectively won 58.5% of the vote, for a total of 15 MEPs.
There have been a couple of opinion polls conducted over the last few weeks regarding Euro voting intention. These show the PS falling from 44% in 2004 to between 26% and 39% in 2009, while the CDU has fallen slightly from 9.1% in 2004 to around 7% in recent polls. Remarkably, the Left Bloc, who polled 4.9% in 2004, appear to have gained ground, polling anywhere from 8% to 14% in recent polls.
The combined right-wing vote for the Social Democrats and the People’s Party is polling between 33% (about what they got in 2004) and 38%.