Democratic and Social Centre

Democratic and Social Centre
Democratic and Social Centre - People's Party
Centro Democrático e Social - Partido Popular
Leader Paulo Portas
Founded 19 July 1974 (1974-07-19)
Headquarters Largo Adelino Amaro da Costa 5, 1149-063 Lisbon
Youth wing Juventude Popular
Membership 25,000
Ideology General:
Economic liberalism
Social conservatism
Soft euroscepticism[1]
Internal factions:
 · Christian democracy
 · Classical liberalism
 · National conservatism
Political position Right wing[2][3][4]
International affiliation International Democrat Union
European affiliation European People's Party
European Parliament Group European People's Party
Official colours Blue
Assembly of the Republic
24 / 230
Regional Parliaments
14 / 104
European Parliament
2 / 22
Politics of Portugal
Political parties

The Democratic and Social Centre – People's Party (Portuguese: Centro Democrático e Social - Partido Popular, pronounced: [pɐɾˈtidu du ˈsẽtɾu dɨmuˈkɾatiku i susiˈaɫ pɐɾˈtidu pupuˈlaɾ]), abbreviated to CDS–PP, is a Portuguese political party, with an ideological foundation of Conservatism, Christian democracy and classical liberalism. In voting ballots its name appears only as People's Party, with the acronym CDS–PP unchanged.

It was founded in 19 July 1974, during the Carnation Revolution. In its first elections, the CDS–PP won 16 seats out of 230 – increasing to 42 in 1976. The party entered a short-lived coalition with the Socialist Party before entering the centre-right Democratic Alliance. The party has been involved in centre-right coalitions with the Social Democratic Party from 1980 to 1983 and again from 2002 to 2005. In the 2009 election, the party won 21 seats, its most since 1985, and increased it to 24 in 2011, leading to it forming a coalition government with the PSD.

The CDS–PP current leader is Paulo Portas. The party is affiliated to the European People's Party and the International Democrat Union. Its two members in the European Parliament used to sit in the ED section of the EPP–ED Group, but switched to the EPP section in 2006. The party also has autonomous organizations which share its political beliefs, the People's Youth and the Federation of Christian Democratic Workers.




The Democratic and Social Centre was founded on 19 July 1974 by Diogo Freitas do Amaral, Adelino Amaro da Costa, Basílio Horta, Vítor Sá Machado, Valentim Xavier Pintado, João Morais Leitão and João Porto. By that time, Portugal was living an unstable political moment: instability, violence and great social tensions were evident after the Carnation Revolution held on 25 April of the same year. The then CDS declared itself as a party rigorously at the centre of the political spectrum, but by then it already counted with a major slice of the Portuguese right-wing in its affiliations. In 13 January 1975, the leaders of the CDS delivered at the Supreme Court of Justice the necessary documentation to legalize the party. The first congress was held in 25 January 1975, at the Rosa Mota Pavilion, Porto.

First years of opposition

After 25 March 1975, a regime centred in social matters, state control of the economy and military leadership began its efforts to dominate the nation, which summed up with the COPCON (a post-revolutionary military organization founded in 1974) and the constant attacks perpretated on the western social democrat model, led the CDS to declare itself officially as an opposition party. Its 16 deputies cast the only votes against the socialist-influenced Constitution of 1976, on 2 April. In the legislative election of 1976, the CDS achieved its objectives by having 42 deputies elected and so surpassing the Portuguese Communist Party (Partido Comunista Português, PCP).

The Democratic Alliance

In 1979 the CDS proposed a coalition to the Social Democratic Party and the People’s Monarchist Party. The proposal brought about the creation of the Democratic Alliance, known as AD (Portuguese: Aliança Democrática), headed by Francisco Sá Carneiro, which won the general elections of 1979 and 1980.

In the AD governments the CDS was represented by five ministers and ten secretaries of state, with the president of the party, Diogo Freitas do Amaral, being nominated to the offices of Vice Prime-Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs (later nominated Vice Prime-Minister and Minister of National Defence).

On the night of 4 December 1980, the then Prime-Minister of Portugal, Francisco Sá Carneiro, Minister of National Defence, Adelino Amaro da Costa, and others, died in a plane crash. The president of the CDS, Diogo Freitas do Amaral, stood in for Francisco Sá Carneiro until the nomination of a new government, this time headed by Francisco Pinto Balsemão. The VII Constitutional Government collapsed on 4 September 1981, after the resignation of Freitas do Amaral from the government and from the presidency of the party, putting an end to the AD.

An opposition of 20 years

After the collapse of the AD, the party looked for a new leader and new direction. Freitas do Amaral's successor was Adriano Moreira, who, when having been unable to stop the party's negative performance, did not stand for re-election. Freitas do Amaral returned as party president, during a period characterised by the electoral success of the PSD, Aníbal Cavaco Silva, to lead a rump of 4 deputies (later 5) in parliament. Freitas do Amaral left the party in 1992.

In 1992 a new generation took over the party and in March of that year, at the party’s 10th Congress, the ex-president of the Centrist Youth (the then youth organization of the CDS), Manuel Monteiro, was elected to the presidency. A year later, at an extraordinary congress, the name "Partido Popular" was added to the party's name in an effort to emulate the Spanish party of the same name.

The CDS–PP underwent an electoral recovery in the general election of 1995, electing 15 deputies. However, following poor electoral results in local elections in 1997, Manuel Monteiro resigned and was replaced at the party's Braga congress by Paulo Portas who defeated Maria José Nogueira Pinto. Portas proposed a return to the party's Christian Democrat roots and set himself the challenge of keeping all 15 seats in parliament in the general election of 1999. This was accomplished.

The "Democratic Coalition"

After a massive electoral defeat in the 2001 local elections, the then PS Prime Minister António Guterres resigned with a general election being held in early 2002. The PSD won a relative majority, forcing them to enter into a coalition, 20 years after their previous coalition government, with the CDS–PP. The CDS–PP gained three ministries: Paulo Portas at the Ministry of Defence, Bagão Félix at the Ministry of Social Security and Celeste Cardona at the Ministry of Justice.

In the summer of 2004, the then prime-minister José Manuel Durão Barroso, resigned to become president of the European Commission and in order to avoid an early general election, President Jorge Sampaio invited Pedro Santana Lopes to form a new PSD/CDS–PP government. Unfortunately due to low popularity and what was seen as the inept handling of the country by the new Prime Minister, parliament was dissolved after just four months and a new general election was held.

Portuguese general election of 2005

CDS-PP rally in January 2005 in Europarque, Santa Maria da Feira, with more than 5,000 people.

The CDS–PP ran alone and with great electoral hopes. The party established ambitious goals: to remain the third force in parliament, prevent the PS from achieving an absolute majority and win 10% of the national vote. The party failed in all its aims and lost two of its 14 deputies. This electoral failure, along with the defeat of the PSD led to Paulo Portas's resignation and a congress to elect a new leader.

"Portugal 2009"

After the resignation of Paulo Portas, who had led the CDS–PP with charisma for seven years, the party was feeling “orphaned”, and the absence of candidates accentuated that feeling. Two candidates then emerged: Telmo Correia and José Ribeiro e Castro, with the former being looked on as a favourite, following the line and style of Paulo Portas. However, José Ribeiro e Castro conquered the congress with his motion, “Portugal 2009”, being elected. The day after, José Ribeiro e Castro was elected president of the CDS–PP. In May 2007, however, Paulo Portas was again elected as the leader of the party, amidst a lot of controversy, culminating in an episode of insults and aggressions between party (and other now former) party members.


A large ideological overlap exists between the CDS–PP and the Social Democratic Party.[7] The party's original philosophy was based on Christian democracy,[8] and it was originally positioned in the centre.[9] A factional disagreement within the party between those that believed that the CDS–PP should be to the right of the PSD or in the political centre erupted.[10] The party shifted in the early 1990s under the leadership of Manuel Monteiro. It still considers itself to be a centrist party.[11]

The party used to have a pro-EU line, but switched under Monteiro,[12] becoming soft Eurosceptic, including opposing the Maastricht Treaty,[13] with this change of tack credited for ending the party's decline.[8] As a result of the change, the European People's Party threw the CDS–PP out of its parliamentary group, and it joined the Union for Europe instead. Monteiro's successor, Paulo Portas, continued the CDS–PP's Eurosceptic line,[14] but rejoined the EPP.

The CDS–PP has always strongly opposed the legalization of abortion in Portugal and is officially a pro-life party. It had campaigned vigorously against the legalization of abortion up to ten weeks in the Portuguese abortion referendum, 1998 and in the Portuguese abortion referendum, 2007, where under the current law abortions are allowed up to 12 weeks if the mother's life or mental or physical health is at risk, up to 16 weeks in cases of rape and up to 24 weeks if the child may be born with an incurable disease or deformity; whereas the new law proposal will allow abortions on request up to the tenth week. The CDS–PP has proposed what it considers to be responsible alternatives based on the "right to life" to solve the problem of illegal abortion and of abortion itself.

Political support

In line with the two largest parties, but unlike the two far-left parties, the CDS–PP is a big tent party, with appeal across social and ideological groups.[15] The party's voters have a similar profile to the PSD.[16] It has low voter loyalty, with voter retention historically being half the level of the three other largest parties.[17]

The major issue on which the voter profile differs most significantly from the other parties is abortion, where those that identify as pro-life are significantly more likely to vote for the CDS–PP.[18]

The CDS–PP receives a considerable amount of support amongst farmers in the north, as well as among entrepreneurs and managers.[19]


International affiliations

The CDS–PP is a member party of the conservative International Democrat Union (IDU) and the Christian democratic European People's Party (EPP). Its two MEPs sit in the EPP group in the European Parliament.

It was formerly a member of the European Union of Christian Democrats (EUCD), as well as the EUCD-affiliated EPP's political group in the European Parliament, from 1986 to 1995. In 1995, the party – under the more Eurosceptic leadership of Manuel Monteiro – was kicked out of the EPP; it left the EUCD and joined the Union for Europe group in the European Parliament.[8] In 2003, the party joined the European Democrats, as part of the EPP–ED group in Parliament. In 2006, it left the European Democrats – now collapsing due to the formation of the Movement for European Reform – to join the EPP proper.

Election results

Assembly of the Republic

Election # of votes  % of vote # of seats Place
N/A [A]
N/A [A]
^A In the Democratic Alliance, with the Social Democratic Party and the People's Monarchist Party.

European Parliament

Election # of votes  % of vote # of seats Place
N/A [A]
^A In Força Portugal, with the Social Democratic Party.

List of leaders

Paulo Portas was leader of the CDS-PP from 1998 to 2005, and again from 2007 to the present day.
Name Start End
1st Diogo Freitas do Amaral (1st time) 19 July 1974 20 February 1983
2nd Francisco Lucas Pires 20 February 1983 1985
3rd Adriano Moreira 1985 1987
4th Diogo Freitas do Amaral (2nd time) 1987 22 March 1992
5th Manuel Monteiro 22 March 1992 22 March 1998
6th Paulo Portas (1st time) 22 March 1998 24 April 2005
7th José Ribeiro e Castro 24 April 2005 21 April 2007
8th Paulo Portas (2nd time) 21 April 2007 Present day


  1. ^ Monteiro, Manuel; Portas, Paulo; Nogueira Pinto, Jaime; Moreira, Adriano; Lobo Xavier, António; Marques Bessa, António (1994). Viva Portugal - Uma nova ideia da Europa. Lisbon: Europa América. p. 137. ISBN 97210377295. 
  2. ^ Colomer, Josep Maria (2008), Comparative European politics (third ed.), Routledge, p. 181, 
  3. ^ Freire et al (2007), p. 102
  4. ^ Govan, Fiona (6 June 2011), "Portugal elects Right-wing government as tough reforms loom", The Telegraph,, retrieved 14 Aug 2011 
  5. ^ Gowland, David; Dunphy, Richard; Lythe, Charlotte (2006). The European Mosaic. London: Pearson. p. 207. ISBN 9780582473706. 
  6. ^ Europa World Year Book 2. London: Taylor & Francis Group. 2004. p. 3484. ISBN 9781857432558. 
  7. ^ Bruneau (2007), p. 77
  8. ^ a b c Magone (2003), p. 143
  9. ^ Costa Lobo, Marina; Magalhães, Pedro C.. Room for Manoeuvre: Euroscepticism in the Portuguese Parties and Electorate, 1976-2005. 
  10. ^ Bruneau (2007), p. 91
  11. ^ Freire, André (August 2005). "Party System Change in Portugal, 1974-2005: The Role of Social, Political and Ideological Factors". Portuguese Journal of Social Science 4 (2): 81–100. doi:10.1386/pjss.4.2.81/1. 
  12. ^ Leston-Bandeira (2004), p. 31
  13. ^ Magone (2003), p. 110
  14. ^ Magone (2003), p. 144
  15. ^ Freire et al (2007), p. 138
  16. ^ Freire et al (2007), p. 134
  17. ^ Sánchez-Cuenca, Ignacio (May 2003). "How can governments by accountable if voters vote ideologically?". Working Paper (CEACS) 2003 (191). 
  18. ^ Freire et al (2007), p. 117
  19. ^ Veiga, Francisco José; Gonçalves Veiga, Linda. "The Determinants of Vote Intentions in Portugal". Public Choice 118 (3–4): 341–364. doi:10.1023/B:PUCH.0000019913.00616.e2. 


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