Politics after Austerity: Strategic Interactions Between Social Movements and Institutional Actors in Portugal, 2010-2015

Thursday, July 13, 2017
Gilbert Scott Conference Room - 251 (University of Glasgow)
Guya Accornero , Centro de Investigação e Estudos de Sociologia, Instituto Universitário de Lisboa
Pedro Ramos Pinto , International Economic History, University of Cambridge
Portugal started to suff­­er the impact of austerity measures as of 2010. Since 2011, these measures were intensified in the context of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) which agreed the terms of financial assistance to the government by the EU-IMF-ECB ‘troika’, bringing a set of harsh economic and social consequences to the life of Portuguese citizens.

Although it is always difficult to establish a clear causal link between the economic context and the mobilizations processes, in the past few years Portugal has experienced its strongest cycle of mobilization since the revolutionary period (1974-1975). However, in contrast to other southern European countries, these social mobilisations did not result in the emergence of strong new political actors, or a sustained threat to the consolidated party system. Nevertheless, there were significant changes to the political landscape, particularly with the creation of an unprecedented strategic alliance between left-wing parties following the October 2015 elections. Seeking to explain these developments, this chapter complements our earlier work by tracing the evolution of the ‘dynamics of contention’ in Portugal since 2011, paying particular attention to facets of embeddeness and institutionalisation of Portuguese civil society and party systems.