The local elections in Portugal were a disaster for the ruling centre left Socialist Party and its allies. They also saw a significant increase in votes for the radical Left Bloc.
The Left Bloc stood candidates in 120 councils, almost twice the number it fielded at the last local elections. Some 85 percent of the population had the opportunity to vote for left candidates.
Overall the party won almost three times more votes than last time — 212,000 in 2005 against 80,000 in 2001. It now has 352 local representatives across the country, up from 78 in 2001. In Lisbon the Left Bloc’s Sá Fernandes was elected as an opposition deputy mayor.
The Left Bloc has emerged from these local elections as a national organisation, capable of involving thousands of people in its activities. It is recognised as the most effective opposition to the neo-liberal government.
The party is now preparing to contest Portugal’s presidential election, which is due to be held in January next year.