Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home

The Portuguese Radical Left Parties Supporting Government: From Policy-Takers to Policymakers?

  • Elisabetta De Giorgi (a1) and João Cancela (a2)

Abstract

How do parties that have long been confined to opposition behave once they take the decision to support government? This article analyses the case of the three Portuguese radical left parties that took such a move in the wake of the post-bailout 2015 election. Leveraging the concept of contract parliamentarism and the analysis of different data sources through different methods, we show that the three parties adopted a similar strategy after agreeing deals with the centre-left socialists. Specifically, while keeping close scrutiny on the executive action, the parties have voted consensually on most of the legislation proposed by the government. In exchange, the majority of policy pledges agreed with the socialists were implemented by the beginning of the legislature. Based on these findings, the article underlines the importance for supporting parties of conducting a thorough negotiation of policy goals and the timing of their implementation before joining the government, and of pursuing an autonomous discursive agenda.

Copyright

Corresponding author

*Corresponding author. Email: edegiorgi@units.it

References

Hide All
Akkerman, T, Lange, SL de, and Rooduijn, M (2016) Radical Right-Wing Populist Parties in Western Europe: Into the Mainstream? New York: Routledge.
Albertazzi, D and McDonnell, D (2005) The Lega Nord in the Second Berlusconi Government: In a League of its Own. West European Politics 28(5), 952972. https://doi.org/10.1080/01402380500310600.
Anghel, V and Thürk, M (2019) Under the Influence: Pay-Offs to Legislative Support Parties under Minority Governments. Government and Opposition: An International Journal of Comparative Politics, published early online, April, https://doi.org/10.1017/gov.2019.11.
Aylott, N and Bergman, T (2004) Almost in Government, But Not Quite: The Swedish Greens, Bargaining Constraints and the Rise of Contract Parliamentarism. ECPR joint sessions of workshops, Uppsala.
Bäck, H and Bergman, T (2016) The Parties in Government Formation. In Pierre, J (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Swedish Politics. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 206223.
Balampanidis, I et al. (2019) ‘Bridges Over Troubled Waters’? The Competitive Symbiosis of Social Democracy and Radical Left in Crisis-Ridden Southern Europe. Government and Opposition: An International Journal of Comparative Politics, published early online, April. https://doi.org/10.1017/gov.2019.8.
Bale, T and Bergman, T (2006) Captives No Longer, but Servants Still? Contract Parliamentarism and the New Minority Governance in Sweden and New Zealand. Government and Opposition: An International Journal of Comparative Politics 41(3), 422449. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1477-7053.2006.00186.x.
Bale, T and Dunphy, R (2011) In from the Cold? Left Parties and Government Involvement Since 1989. Comparative European Politics 9(3), 269291. https://doi.org/10.1057/cep.2010.12.
Costa Lobo, M, Costa Pinto, A and Magalhães, PC (2016) Portuguese Democratisation 40 Years on: Its Meaning and Enduring Legacies. South European Society and Politics 21(2), 163180. https://doi.org/10.1080/13608746.2016.1153490.
Cunha, C (2008) Few but Pure and Good Members Are Preferred to a Mass Party: The Portuguese Communist Party's Continued Orthodoxy. In Backes, U and Moreau, P (eds), Taking Stock of Communist and Post-Communist Parties in Europe. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, pp. 193214.
De Giorgi, E and Dias, AL (2019) Portuguese Observatory on Parliamentary Dynamics Database (POPaD): Information on Legislative Process, Scrutiny Activity and Speeches in the Portuguese Parliament. (Development version) [Datafile and Codebook]. https://popad.org.
De Giorgi, E and Ilonszki, G (eds) (2018) Opposition Parties in European Legislatures: Conflict or Consensus? London: Routledge.
De Giorgi, E, Moury, C and Ruivo, JP (2015) Incumbents, Opposition and International Lenders: Governing Portugal in Times of Crisis. Journal of Legislative Studies 21(1), 5474. https://doi.org/10.1080/13572334.2014.939561.
De Giorgi, E and Russo, F (2018) Portugal: The Unexpected Path of Far Left Parties, from Permanent Opposition to Government Support. In Giorgi E, De and Ilonszki, G (eds), Opposition Parties in European Legislatures: Conflict or Consensus? London: Routledge, pp. 95112.
De Giorgi, E and Santana Pereira, J (2016) The 2015 Portuguese Legislative Election: Widening the Coalitional Space and Bringing the Extreme Left In. South European Society and Politics 21(4), 451468. https://doi.org/10.1080/13608746.2016.1181862.
de Lange, S (2012) New Alliances: Why Mainstream Parties Govern with Radical Right-Wing Populist Parties. Political Studies 60(4), 899918. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9248.2012.00947.x.
Deschouwer, K (2008) New Parties in Government: In Power for the First Time. London: Routledge.
Dumont, P and Bäck, H (2006) Why so Few, and Why so Late? Green Parties and the Question of Governmental Participation. European Journal of Political Research 45(s1), S35S67. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1475-6765.2006.00649.x.
Dunphy, R and Bale, T (2011) The Radical Left in Coalition Government: Towards a Comparative Measurement of Success and Failure. Party Politics 17(4), 488504. https://doi.org/10.1177/1354068811400524.
Fernandes, JM (2016) The Seeds for Party System Change? The 2015 Portuguese General Election. West European Politics 39(4), 890900. https://doi.org/10.1080/01402382.2016.1150645.
Fernandes, JM, Magalhães, PC and Santana-Pereira, J (2018) Portugal's Leftist Government: From Sick Man to Poster Boy? South European Society and Politics 23(4), 503524. https://doi.org/10.1080/13608746.2018.1525914.
Fishman, RM (2011) Democratic Practice after the Revolution: The Case of Portugal and Beyond. Politics and Society 39(2), 233267. https://doi.org/10.1177/0032329211405439.
Freire, A (2017) Para lá da ‘Geringonça’: o Governo de Esquerdas em Portugal e na Europa. Lisbon: Contraponto.
Freire, A, Lisi, M and Lima, I (2015) Crise Económica, Política de Austeridade e o Potencial de Coligação da ‘Esquerda Radical’ Portuguesa. In Freire, A, Lisi, M and Viegas, JML (eds), Crise Económica, Políticas de Austeridade e Representação Política. Lisbon: Assembleia da República, pp. 385410.
Heinisch, R (2003) Success in Opposition – Failure in Government: Explaining the Performance of Right-Wing Populist Parties in Public Office. West European Politics 26(3), 91130. https://doi.org/10.1080/01402380312331280608.
Hobolt, SB and Tilley, J (2016) Fleeing the Centre: The Rise of Challenger Parties in the Aftermath of the Euro Crisis. West European Politics 39(5), 971991. https://doi.org/10.1080/01402382.2016.1181871.
Koß, M (2010) Close to, but Still Out of, Government: The Swedish Vänsterpartiet. In Olsen, J, Koß, M and Hough, D (eds), Left Parties in National Governments. London: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 105120.
Lisi, M (2013) Rediscovering Civil Society? Renewal and Continuity in the Portuguese Radical Left. South European Society and Politics 18(1), 2139. https://doi.org/10.1080/13608746.2012.757450.
Lisi, M (2016) U-Turn: The Portuguese Radical Left from Marginality to Government Support. South European Society and Politics 21(4), 541560. https://doi.org/10.1080/13608746.2016.1225331.
March, L (2008) Contemporary Far Left Parties in Europe: From Marxism to the Mainstream? Berlin: Friedrich Ebert Stiftung.
March, L and Mudde, C (2005) What's Left of the Radical Left? The European Radical Left After 1989: Decline and Mutation. Comparative European Politics 3(1), 2349. https://doi.org/10.1057/palgrave.cep.6110052.
Maxwell, K (1989) The Consolidation of Political Democracy in Portugal: Some Unanswered Questions. Portuguese Studies 5, 161177.
Minkenberg, M (2013) From Pariah to Policy-Maker? The Radical Right in Europe, West and East: Between Margin and Mainstream. Journal of Contemporary European Studies 21(1), 524. https://doi.org/10.1080/14782804.2013.766473.
Moury, C (2011a) Coalition Agreement and Party Mandate: How Coalition Agreements Constrain the Ministers. Party Politics 17(3), 385404. https://doi.org/10.1177/1354068810372099.
Moury, C (2011b) Italian Coalitions and Electoral Promises: Assessing the Democratic Performance of the Prodi I and Berlusconi II Governments. Modern Italy 16(1), 3550. https://doi.org/10.1080/09593969.2010.481090.
Müller, WC and Strøm, K (1999) Policy, Office, or Votes? How Political Parties in Western Europe Make Hard Decisions. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Narud, HM (1996) Electoral Competition and Coalition Bargaining in Multiparty Systems. Journal of Theoretical Politics 8(4), 499525. https://doi.org/10.1177/0951692896008004004.
Newell, J (2010) Between a Rock and a Hard Place: The Governing Dilemmas of Rifondazione Comunista. In Olsen, J, Koß, M and Hough, D (eds), Left Parties in National Governments. London: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 5268.
Nyblade, B (2013) Government Formation in Parliamentary Democracies. In Müller, WC and Narud, HM (eds), Party Governance and Party Democracy. New York: Springer, pp. 1331.
Olsen, J, Koß, M and Hough, D (2010) Left Parties in National Governments. London: Palgrave Macmillan.
Rooduijn, M, Van Kessel, S, Froio, C, Pirro, A, De Lange, S, Halikiopoulou, D, Lewis, P, Mudde, C and Taggart, P (2019) The PopuList: An Overview of Populist, Far Right, Far Left and Eurosceptic Parties in Europe. http://www.popu-list.org.
Royed, TJ (1996) Testing the Mandate Model in Britain and the United States: Evidence from the Reagan and Thatcher Eras. British Journal of Political Science 26(1), 4580. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0007123400007419.
Strøm, K (1990a) A Behavioral Theory of Competitive Political Parties. American Journal of Political Science 34(2), 565598. https://doi.org/10.2307/2111461.
Strøm, K (1990b) Minority Government and Majority Rule. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Tarchi, M (2003) L'Italia Populista: Dal Qualunquismo ai Girotondi. Bologna: Mulino.
Thesen, G (2016) Win Some, Lose None? Support Parties at the Polls and in Political Agenda-Setting. Political Studies 64(4), 979999. https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-9248.12223.
Vidal, G (2018) Challenging Business as Usual? The Rise of New Parties in Spain in Times of Crisis. West European Politics 41(2), 261286. https://doi.org/10.1080/01402382.2017.1376272.

Keywords

Type Description Title
WORD
Supplementary materials

De Giorgi and Cancela supplementary material
Online Appendix

 Word (15 KB)
15 KB

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed