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News Analysis: Political stability, economic growth pave way to socialists' victory in Port


LISBON, Oct. 10 (Xinhua) -- Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa's Socialist Party (PS) won a clear but not overwhelming victory in Sunday's national elections.

Academics and political analysts here believe that the main factors behind are the political stability, the budgetary balance achieved throughout the last legislature and outstanding economic growth during the past three years.

The high economic growth rates in Portugal, namely 2 percent, 3.5 percent and 2.4 percent in the past three years respectively, are well above the average of the European Union. Moreover, the unemployment rate has decreased from 12 percent in 2015 to the present 6.2 percent, while government budget deficit has also gone down significantly, according to official figures.

The economic achievements have undoubtedly encouraged Portuguese people and increased their confidence following the hardship of the debt crisis in 2011.

"The economic and financial policy from the government has finished with the advanced payments to the IMF, the reduction of the debt and, mostly, in taking advantage from the economic growth conjuncture," Antonio Costa Pinto, political scientist and coordinating researcher at Political Sciences Institute (ICS) in Lisbon, told Xinhua.

"As the Socialist government took power in a moment where the economy was already increasing and, besides that -- and that is a surprise -- the Portuguese economy grew in an unexpected way, unemployment rates dropped significantly and most of the economic indicators were positive," he said.

There was also a good communication strategy from the socialists and the prime minister, as Susana Salgado, research fellow and professor of political communication and media and politics of ICS has pointed out.

"The socialist leader was very effective in terms of communication and all the framework of the policies and measures applied," explained Salgado.

Both experts pointed out trust as a key element that led to the socialists' victory on Sunday.

"It was a process built over time. Like a kind of trust relationship built between the three parties (socialists, communists and Left Block). Overtime, no serious political crisis between the three made clear to the electorate that the parties had put their differences aside in order to build a common solution, beneficial to the nation," said Salgado.

Pinto also highlighted the stability between the three parties, as a key element to the socialists' success. "Four years ago, this government was formed in a way that was unheard in Portuguese democracy: it was the party that lost the elections that achieved to form the government thanks to skillful negotiations with the left parties."

The feeling is also mirrored in the words of Maria Gabriela Ribeiro, 58, a voter from Lisbon, who gave a "thumbs up" to the Costa government when looking back the past four years.

"I feel that we've got some improvements, more progress, more social equity," said the secretary of a small company. "The solution between PS and the left parties has allowed more peace in the streets and I also felt that people regained hope, mainly after the second year of the government."

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