It is not the PSD that is improving, it is the PS that is getting worse: if the legislative elections were held now, there would be a technical tie between the two largest parties and the right would achieve, all together, an absolute majority.
The results of the latest poll by the Center for Studies and Opinion Surveys (Cesop) of the Catholic University for PÚBLICO, RTP and Antena 1 give the Socialists 32% of the voting intentions and 31% to the Social Democrats, showing a drop of six points percentages for the PS and only a slight increase of one point for the PSD when compared with the study carried out in July last year.
This new survey by Cesop/Católica, whose field work was carried out between the 9th and 17th of this month, indicates that the four parties on the right – PSD, Chega, Iniciativa Liberal (IL) and CDS – together obtain 51% of voting intentions, against the 47% of a “contraption” with all parties of the left and the PAN. PSD’s 31% are joined by Chega’s 11%, IL’s 8% and CDS-PP’s 1%.
In practice, this was the figure (51%) still reached by the entire left and the PAN in last July’s poll. At the time, six months after the elections, the PS was already losing its absolute majority. The new results confirm and accentuate the socialists’ downward trend.
On the left, in addition to the 32% of the PS, there are the 7% of the Bloco, 4% of the CDU, and the PAN and Livre with 2% each. Which means that, with these results, the old “contraption” (PS, BE and CDU) would now be worth only 43% (after, in the legislative elections of 2015, having represented 50.75%; and in those of 2019 having reached 52 .19%).
PS scorched because of the Government
Among the nine political forces, the only ones to fall are the PS and the CDU. The explanation for the socialists will be in the performance of the Government, which since July has not stopped accumulating controversies with ministers and secretaries of State.
If in July António Costa could only complain about the shrapnel of stubbornness with Pedro Nuno Santos about the airport and the emergency closure, now the list is huge. And it even includes Pedro Nuno Santos again, now out of the Government, and the controversy over TAP’s compensation to manager Alexandra Reis, which gave rise to a commission of inquiry.
Added to the uncontrolled fires of the summer were appointments (and attempts) in the executive, such as Sérgio Figueiredo, or cases of government officials involved directly or indirectly in legal proceedings, such as Miguel Alves and Carla Alves, or in investigations, such as Fernando Medina. Added to this is the political action of ministers such as Maria do Céu Albuquerque and João Gomes Cravinho.
In the CDU, the departure of Jerónimo de Sousa and his replacement (in a process not free of criticism over the lack of participation of militants) by Paulo Raimundo, in November, was not enough to reverse the downward trend. The 5% of voting intentions in July have shrunk to 4%.
On the side of those who rose in voting intentions compared to the previous poll, Luís Montenegro’s first seven months at the head of the PSD do not seem to have excited the “orange” electorate: the party rose a meager point from 30 to 31%. The other parties on the right (with the exception of the CDS, which kept its 1%) have reason to celebrate and in the Liberal Initiative there will be those who see this rise from 6 to 8% already as a new breath after the change of president and want to remove the bad guys omens of those who saw the departure of João Cotrim Figueiredo and his replacement by Rui Rocha as the beginning of the decline of the party.
Chega rose from 9 to 11%, which confirms the upward trend of André Ventura’s party, but not for the values that he has set as a goal (15%).
The Bloc, which is preparing to change leaders, with Mariana Mortágua appearing as the successor of Catarina Martins, also rose two points, from 5 to 7%. The announcement that Catarina Martins would not run again was made on the 14th, already during data collection for this poll.
In the smaller ones, the PAN recovers ground rising from 1 to 2% and catches the Livre at the same level.
In this survey, 76% of respondents answered that, if there were elections now, they would certainly vote, and 14% said that “in principle” they would also do so. Only 2% answered that they certainly would not vote.
“Contraptive” on the right?
The divisions on the right, marked by the much claimed “red lines” to Chega, leave the scenario with several doubts. An alliance only between Luís Montenegro and the liberal Rui Rocha would allow reaching 39%, while if the PSD allied itself only to Chega, the sum would be 42%. If the PSD president never categorically stated that he will not make alliances with Chega, the new leader of the Liberal Initiative has already been clear in refusing agreements with André Ventura’s party.
For his part, André Ventura, driven by poll results that have given up to 14% of voting intentions to Chega, has not tired of leaning the PSD against the wall warning that a future government on the right will necessarily have to rely on Chega – or “there will be no government on the right” – and that a parliamentary agreement like the one that exists in the Azores will not be enough.
Taking into account only the voting estimates of this poll (and not the conversion into terms of office in the Assembly of the Republic), an alliance of just two parties on the right could be thwarted by an initiative of unity on the left. If we add the 1% of CDS to the equation on the right, then the PSD+Chega+CDS scenario would tie with the 43% on the left.
However, bearing in mind that all values are estimates, any right-wing scenario versus left fits into the range of the technical tie.