four hands with envelopes for votes

On the evening of Saturday December 16, 2023, former Infrastructure Minister Pedro Nuno Santos won the Socialist Party primaries in Portugal, ahead of parliamentary elections scheduled for March. He won 62% of the vote.

Former Infrastructure Minister Pedro Nuno Santos won Portugal’s Socialist Party primaries on Saturday evening, ahead of parliamentary elections scheduled for March. He succeeds Antonio Costa as Secretary General of the PS, whose resignation as Prime Minister has led to early legislative elections scheduled for March 10.

“It’s a united party that we now want” that will work “to give stability” to the country, said Pedro Nuno Santos after winning 62% of the vote, according to near-final results. The 46-year-old politician, who held government posts from 2015 to 2022, comes from the party’s left wing. His political career has been fraught with controversy.

The former Transport Minister was forced to resign a year ago in the wake of the scandal surrounding the payment of a €500,000 severance package to a director of the national airline TAP, at a time when the company was undergoing restructuring.

Political crisis

Nuno Santos faced current Interior Minister José Luis Carneiro, from the centrist PS party, who won 36% of the vote. “From today onwards, we are all socialists,” said Mr. Carneiro after hailing his opponent’s victory.

Socialist activists had been voting since Friday to choose a successor to Mr. Costa, who resigned a month ago from his posts as Prime Minister and Secretary General of the PS, making it clear that he would not seek another term at the helm of the country he has led since 2015.

Portugal plunged into political crisis on November 7, after a series of arrests and searches led to the indictment of Mr. Costa’s chief of staff and his Infrastructure Minister Joao Galamba for influence peddling.

“As of Sunday, the PS will once again be united behind its new leader”, Mr. Costa said on Friday evening, after ruling out retirement. Mr. Costa, who congratulated his successor on Saturday evening, is due to meet him on Sunday to discuss the transition at the head of the party.

March 10 ballot

The Socialist Party and the main opposition party, the Social Democratic Party (PSD, center-right), appear neck-and-neck, according to several polls, and can both claim to win the March 10 vote.

The right-wing group as a whole is likely to win more deputies than the left-wing formations, while the far-right Chega party could become indispensable to a right-wing majority by making a new electoral breakthrough, according to the latest polls.

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