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The Left and the Crisis: the Portuguese Case

Claudia Toriz Ramos

For years, Portugal has been living under the constraints of the 'crisis', a financial, economic and sovereign debt crisis. Especially because of the latter, the crisis has pushed into the public space the debate on European integration, notably the European Monetary Union. The bailout of the Portuguese State by the European institutions and the IMF, back in 2011, made austerity measures unavoidable and has shown the other face of European integration - keywords in the public discourse switched from 'modernization' and 'funding' to 'austerity' and 'poverty' .Political impacts were twofold. Initially the left of centre party in government (PS) was blamed by the crisis and experienced substantial losses in public support, in favour of a centre-right pro-austerity coalition (CDS and PSD). Yet, four years after, discontent has grown and electoral results in October 2015 were rather split. This enabled a first time ever, in the recent history of Portuguese democracy, convergence between centre-left (PS) and extreme left parties (PCP-PEV and BE) thus enabling the socialist PS to govern.Underlying this process there seems to be a change of political attitudes and of political alignments, resulting from the strong socio-economic impacts of austerity, one that may be re-shaping the role of the left in southern Europe. This is the core question the paper seeks to debate.

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