Social Democratic Party / Partido Social Democrático

Social Democratic Party / Partido Social Democrático
   One of the two major political parties in democratic Portugal. It was established originally as the Popular Democratic Party / Partido Popular Democrático (PPD) in May 1974, following the Revolution of 25 April 1974 that overthrew the Estado Novo. The PPD had its roots in the "liberal wing" of the União Nacional, the single, legal party or movement allowed under the Estado Novo during the last phase of that regime, under Prime Minister Marcello Caetano. A number of future PPD leaders, such as Francisco Sá Carneiro and Francisco Balsemão, hoped to reform the Estado Novo from within, but soon became discouraged. After the 1974 Revolution, the PPD participated in two general elections (April 1975 and April 1976), which were crucial for the establishment and consolidation of democracy, and the party won sufficient votes to become the second largest political party after the Socialist Party (PS) in the number of seats held in the legislature, the Assembly of the Republic. The PPD voting results in those two elections were 26.4 percent and 24.4 percent, respectively.
   After the 1976 elections, the party changed its name from Partido Popular Democrático to Partido Social Democrático (PSD). As political opinion swung from the left to the center and center-right, and with the leadership of Francisco Sá Carneiro, the PSD gained greater popularity and strength, and from 1979 on, the party played an important role in government. After Sá Carneiro died in the air crash of December 1980, he was replaced as party chief and then prime minister by Francisco Balsemão, and then by Aníbal Cavaco Silva. As successors, these two leaders guided the PSD to a number of electoral victories, especially beginning in 1985. After 1987, the PSD held a majority of seats in parliament, a situation that lasted until 1995, when the Socialist Party (PS) won the election.
   The PSD's principal political program has featured the de-Marxi-fication of the 1976 Constitution and the economic system, a free-market economy with privatization of many state enterprises, and close ties with the European Economic Community (EEC) and subsequently the European Union (EU). After the PSD lost several general elections in 1995 and 1999, and following the withdrawal from office of former prime minister Cavaco Silva, a leadership succession crisis occurred in the party. The party leadership shifted from Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa to Manuel Durão Barroso, and, in 2004, Pedro Santana Lopes.
   During 2000 and 2001, as Portugal's economic situation worsened, the PS's popularity waned. In the December 2001 municipal elections, the PSD decisively defeated the PS and, as a result, Prime Minister António Guterres resigned. Parliamentary elections in March 2002 resulted in a Social Democratic victory, although its margin of victory over the PS was small (40 percent to 38 percent). Upon becoming premier in the spring of 2002, then, PSD leader Durão Barroso, in order to hold a slim majority of seats in the Assembly of the Republic, was obliged to govern in a coalition with the Popular Party (PP), formerly known as the Christian Democratic Party (CDS). Although the PSD had ousted the PS from office, the party confronted formidable economic and social problems. When Durão Barroso resigned to become president of the EU Commission, Pedro Santana Lopes became the PSD's leader, as prime minister in July 2004. Under Santana Lopes's leadership, the PSD lost the parliamentary elections of 2005 to the PS. Since then, the PSD has sought to regain its dominant position with the Portuguese electorate. It made some progress in doing so when its former leader, Cavaco Silva, was elected president of the Republic of 2006.
   See also Political parties.

Historical dictionary of Portugal 3rd ed.. . 2014.

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