The left, we are told, is in retreat across Europe, as shown by Germany’s elections, with the SPD recording their worst result for over half a century. But the Germans aren’t the only ones doing elections: Portugal has also been to the polls, and the outcome has bucked the supposed trend, with Prime Minister José Sócrates and his Socialists gaining the largest share of the vote.
And he’s not the only left of centre premier in the region: Spain’s José Zapatéro, who came to power after his opponents attempted to call the Madrid train bombings as an ETA attack for political gain, is still in office.
And what has the victorious party promised the Portuguese electorate? More public works, it seems. My own reaction, being an occasional visitor to the country, is that moving Lisbon’s Airport across the Tagus should come later than more basic works, like keeping the trains free of graffiti.
But it’s fascinating to see that the conventional wisdom about left/right politics does not necessarily hold – and no surprise that the inconvenient exception does not get widely reported.