In Portugal, tens of thousands of socialists, led by party leader and former Prime Minister Dr.
In Portugal, tens of thousands of socialists, led by party leader and former Prime Minister Dr. Mario Soares, paraded through the streets of Lisbon on Sunday (25 November), in one of the biggest rallies so far in the run-up to the general elections on December the second.
SYNOPSIS: There have been few larger political rallies in Portugal's general election campaign. This one, organised by the Socialists, was a chance for Dr. Mario Soares to meet his supporters and to canvas support for next month's elections.
But despite the noisy show of support, the Socialists are not expected to win the elections. Although they won the largest number of votes in the 1976 elections, they are now threatened by a new alliance of centre and rightist parties.
Dr. Soares has already predicted that this alliance -- comprising the Social Democrats, the Centre Democrats and the Monarchists -- will emerge as the strongest group after these elections. He has, however, added that it won't have enough seats to form a majority in the two hundred-and-fifty seat Portuguese Parliament. This was the predicament in which the Socialists found themselves after the last elections, when despite holding more seats than any other party, they failed to achieve a stable, working majority in Parliament. Since then, Portugal has been ruled by coalition politics and patchwork alliances of different parties. Dr. Soares himself was dismissed by President Antonio Eanes after a split with his coalition partners, the Social Democrats.
In an attempt to gain mass support, the Socialists have come up with an election slogan -- "To the Left and Right, the Socialists represent the frontiers of Liberty". However, they are thought to have alienated some Leftist support by their championing of a bill authorising the return of private land seized for collective use after the 1974 Revolution. Political commentators in Portugal say that many gaps have opened in the Socialist ranks after their triumphant victory in 1976, but on Sunday, at least, those gaps were not visible.