Portugal’s Voters the Latest to Punish Austerity Plans

The defeat of Portugal's Socialist Party in parliamentary elections last Sunday was largely reported as an indictment of the welfare state and spending policies embraced by the party and outgoing Prime Minister José Sócrates.

However, Robert M. Fishman, a sociologist at the University of Notre Damewhose research focuseson the politics of Portugal and Spain, says the victorious Social Democrat Party (PSD) is unlikely to bring about the sort of significant rightward shift in policies heralded in much of the media coverage of the elections.

"Historically the PSD has defended and enacted policies that are not hostile to the welfare state or redistribution, but that instead are much more centrist or even mildly left of what would be considered centrist in many other countries," says Fishman.

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