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Some news articles about Portugal describe "the center-right Social Democratic Party" in opposition to the "center-left Socialist Party".

In most of Europe, Social Dems are left or center-left, and Socialists are left or far left.

Are the parties in Portugal politically to the right of their namesakes in the rest of Europe, or is the political center of Portugal really that far left?

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    I don't know enough about Portuguese politics to write an answer, but your question currently implicitly assumes party names accurately reflect the coalitions which make them on one universal scale for all time. This isn't true.
    – origimbo
    Commented Jan 31, 2022 at 16:52
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    The Wikipedia entry seems to contain quite a bit of information on that: en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_Democratic_Party_(Portugal)
    – Hulk
    Commented Jan 31, 2022 at 16:53

3 Answers 3

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According to Professor Jaime Nogueira Pinto, some "bands" of the political spectrum were made illegal by the Junta and the Communists after the 1974 military coup ("Carnation Revolution"):

Os políticos antifascistas, que chegaram ao poder com o golpe militar de 1974, não precisaram de se preocupar muito com a direita ou de se ocupar dela. No período de transição entre o 25 de Abril de 74 e o 25 de Novembro de 75, nos momentos revolucionários de 28 de Setembro e 11 de Março, os partidos com alguns vestígios de pensamento, ideias ou princípios à direita foram proibidos, os seus dirigentes presos ou forçados ao exílio e as pessoas suspeitas de serem de direita, alvo de “proscrições”. Como se não bastasse, assinou-se o famoso pacto MFA-Partidos, ou “Plataforma de Acordo Constitucional”, consumado em pleno gonçalvismo, um mês depois do 11 de Março. A ideia do “Pacto” partiu de Álvaro Cunhal, para permitir que o MFA – que tanto tinha feito pela restauração democrática – tivesse uma palavra a dizer sobre o futuro texto constitucional, rumo ao socialismo, e pudesse policiar as forças políticas permitidas. Os militares “democratas” tinham feito uma revolução tão bonita… não podiam deixar que “os fascistas” ou que o povo (na sua inocência ou vítima de manipulação e de más influências) a estragassem.

Nesse pacto, fechou-se o arco de legitimidade do novo regime, que vetava a direita, depois de ter prendido e forçado ao exílio o que restava dela. E as “forças democráticas” (incluindo as lideranças do CDS e do PPD) viram que ganhavam um eleitorado cativo que, embora alheio à ideologia de fachada esquerdista que propunham – também para sobreviver e não serem proibidos pelo MFA –, votaria neles como “mal menor”. Como votou.

Assim, a chamada Terceira República portuguesa proibiu à nascença os partidos de direita, empurrando os eleitores de direita para um resignado voto útil nos partidos do centro, permitidos pelo MFA, com a benevolência do PCP.

Jaime Nogueira Pinto, A excepção portuguesa: porque não temos uma direita radical?, Observador, 3 Fevereiro 2019.


In the comments, ohwilleke translated the key portion of this quote to English:

[...] the so-called Third Portuguese Republic banned right-wing parties from birth, pushing right-wing voters to a resigned useful vote in the center parties, permitted by the MFA [the military junta], with the benevolence of the PCP [Portuguese Communist Party].


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    Translating the money quote from Portuguese: "the so-called Third Portuguese Republic banned right-wing parties from birth, pushing right-wing voters to a resigned useful vote in the center parties, permitted by the MFA, with the benevolence of the PCP."
    – ohwilleke
    Commented Feb 2, 2022 at 18:12
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    @ohwilleke I hope you don't mind that I copied your translation into the question to preserve it, since it's pretty much essential for this answer
    – divibisan
    Commented Feb 2, 2022 at 19:46
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    @divibisan Fine with me.
    – ohwilleke
    Commented Feb 2, 2022 at 22:18
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As politicial parties in EU countries are also represented in the European parliament, one can use the grouping there to check where parties see themselves on the political spectrum. The Portugese Social Democratic Party is a member of the European People's party, which is a coalition of center right parties from different EU countries (for example the CDU/CSU from Germany and the Republicans from France). The Socialist Party of Portugal on the other hand is a member of the Party of European Socialists which is a center left coalition (members are for example the SPD from Germany and the PS from France).

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What parties, and even countries, call themselves have nothing to do with what they really are. For example the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, which is neither democratic, nor is it of the people, and it is arguably more akin to an absolute monarchy than to a republic. The National Socialist Worker's Party of Germany is another: an accurate name would be something like Fascist Genocidal Party.

There aren't just extreme examples: in the USA, liberal apparently means left-leaning.

Then again even in places where the names of the political spectrum more or less reflect what they are, they usually only make sense in the political context of that country. Bernie Sanders is considered left to far-left in the USA, but he would be a right-of-centre conservative in mine.

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    Some keywords are more consistent than others. AFAICT, Portugal seems to be the only country in the world whose "Social Democratic" party doesn't support social democratic political philosophy.
    – Foo Bar
    Commented Feb 3, 2022 at 16:58
  • @FooBar Most European Socialist Parties aren't socialist, neither (including the Portuguese one); or they are as socialist as PSD (who supports universal healthcare, expansion of family doctors/oral/end-of-life care, increase of parental leave, etc.) is social democratic.
    – xngtng
    Commented Feb 4, 2022 at 7:33

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