CDS – People's Party

The CDS – People's Party (Portuguese: CDS – Partido Popular, derived from Centro Democrático e Social – Partido Popular, CDS–PP)[1] is a conservative[4][5][6] and Christian democratic[6][7][8][9] political party in Portugal. It is characterized as being between the centre-right[10] and right-wing of the political spectrum.[11] In voting ballots, the party's name appears only as the People's Party, with the abbreviation CDS–PP unchanged.

CDS – People's Party
CDS – Partido Popular
PresidentNuno Melo
Founded19 July 1974 (1974-07-19)
Legalized13 January 1975 (1975-01-13)[1]
HeadquartersLargo Adelino Amaro da Costa 5, 1149-063 Lisbon
Youth wingPeople's Youth
Membership (2018)38,455[2]
Political positionCentre-right to
European affiliationEuropean People's Party
International affiliationInternational Democrat Union
European Parliament groupEuropean People's Party
Colours  Sky blue
"Para a Voz de Portugal ser Maior"[3]
"For Portugal's Voice to Be Greater"
Assembly of the Republic
0 / 230
European Parliament
1 / 21
Regional Parliaments
6 / 104
Local government
6 / 308
Local government
44 / 3,066
Election symbol
CDS-PP (Símbolo Eleitoral).png
Party flag
Flag of the CDS – People's Party

The party was founded on 19 July 1974 during the Carnation Revolution. In its first democratic elections in 1975, the CDS-PP won 16 seats out of 230 – increasing to 42 in the 1976 legislative election. The party entered a short-lived coalition with the Socialist Party (PS) before joining the Democratic Alliance (AD). The party has been involved in centre-right coalitions with the Social Democratic Party (PSD) from 1980 to 1983 and again from 2002 to 2005. In the 2009 legislative election, the party won 21 seats, its most since the 1985 election, and increased it to 24 in 2011, leading to it forming a coalition government with the PSD.

The party is a member of the European People's Party (EPP) and the International Democrat Union (IDU). The party also has autonomous organisations which share its political beliefs, the People's Youth and the Federation of Christian Democratic Workers.

After a disastrous result in the 2022 general elections, which left the party with no seats in the Assembly of the Republic for the first time ever since its founding, Francisco Rodrigues dos Santos resigned as president,[12] being replaced by MEP Nuno Melo in the 29th National Congress of the Party.[13]



The CDS-PP was founded on 19 July 1974 by Diogo Freitas do Amaral, Paulo Lowndes Marques,[14] 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 Portuguese right-winger in its affiliations. On 13 January 1975, the leaders of the CDS-PP delivered at the Supreme Court of Justice the necessary documentation to legalise the party. The first congress was held on 25 January 1975, at the Rosa Mota Pavilion, Porto.

First years of oppositionEdit

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 organisation founded in 1974) and the constant attacks perpetrated 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 (PCP).

The Democratic AllianceEdit

In 1979 the CDS proposed a coalition with the Social Democratic Party (PSD) and the People's Monarchist Party (PPM). The proposal brought about the creation of the Democratic Alliance (AD), 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 state secretaries, with the president of the party, Diogo Freitas do Amaral, being nominated to the offices of Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs (later nominated Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister).

On the night of 4 December 1980, Sá Carneiro and his Minister of National Defence, Adelino Amaro da Costa, were among those who died in a plane crash. Diogo Freitas do Amaral became caretaker prime minister until the formation of a new government, which Francisco Pinto Balsemão headed. This latter administration collapsed on 4 September 1981, after the resignation of Freitas do Amaral (both from the cabinet and from the party presidency). As a result, the Democratic Alliance ended.

An opposition of 20 yearsEdit

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 former president of the Centrist Youth (the then-youth organisation of the CDS), Manuel Monteiro, was elected to the presidency. A year later, at an extraordinary congress, the title People's Party ("Partido Popular") was added to the party's official name in an effort to emulate the Spanish party of the same name.

In 1993, the CDS-PP was expelled from the European People's Party (EPP), both for rejecting the Maastricht Treaty and therefore being not pro-integrationist enough and for not paying due membership fees.[15]

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 democratic 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"Edit

After a massive electoral defeat in the 2001 local elections, the Socialist Party (PS) Prime Minister António Guterres resigned with a general election being held in early 2002. The PSD won a plurality, 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 as Minister of National Defence, Bagão Félix as Minister of Social Security and Celeste Cardona as Minister of Justice.

The CDS-PP contested the 2004 European election in a joint electoral list with the PSD called Forward Portugal (FP), retaining its 2 MEPs.

In the summer of 2004, PSD 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 coalition government. 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 on 30 November 2004 and a new general election was scheduled for February 2005.

2005 general electionEdit

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

In the 2005 legislative election, the CDS-PP obtained 7.2% of the vote and returning 12 deputies, losing two of its 14 deputies. The CDS-PP returned to opposition, with its coalition partner the PSD losing to the centre-left PS, whose leader José Sócrates became Prime Minister. This electoral failure for the CDS-PP, along with the defeat of the PSD led to Paulo Portas's resignation as party leader and a congress to elect a new leader.

"Portugal 2009"Edit

After the resignation of Paulo Portas, who had led the CDS-PP for seven years, 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 with his 'Portugal 2009' platform was elected president of the CDS-PP. In May 2007, however, Paulo Portas was again elected as the leader of the party, amidst controversy.

The CDS-PP contested the 2009 European election in a standalone list, retaining its 2 MEPs with 8.4% of the vote.

In the 2009 legislative election, the party increased their share of the votes to 10.4% and won 21 seats, while remaining in opposition to Prime Minister José Sócrates.

Return to government in 2011Edit

In the 2011 legislative election, the CDS-PP increased its share of the vote yet again to 11.7%, returning 24 deputies. This, along with the victory of the PSD over the incumbent PS government, resulted in the CDS-PP joining a coalition government led by PSD leader and Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho, obtaining 5 ministries in the cabinet.

2014 European electionsEdit

Th 2014 European election had the CDS-PP once again form a joint list with the PSD, this time called the Portugal Alliance. The list received 27.7% of the vote, second place behind the PS, and returned a single MEP for the CDS-PP.

2015 general election and Portugal à FrenteEdit

The CDS-PP formed an alliance with the PSD ahead of the 2015 legislative election, called Portugal Ahead (Portugal à Frente, PàF) with PSD leader and Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho leading the coalition. The PàF coalition, however, lost 25 seats and the parliamentary majority, though they were still comfortably ahead of the Socialist Party by more than 20 seats. President Aníbal Cavaco Silva swore in Passos Coelho and his minority government, but ten days later the PàF government collapsed when the Communists, Greens and Left Bloc voted in favor of the Socialists' motion of no confidence. Socialist lead António Costa was sworn in as Prime Minister on 26 November in a minority government, thrusting PàF into opposition. Passos Coelho declared the end of the Portugal Ahead coalition 16 December.

2019 European electionsEdit

The 2019 European election had the CDS-PP return to an individual list, rather than allying with the PSD. The CDS-PP again returned just a single MEP on 6.2% of the vote.

2019 general electionEdit

Longtime leader Paulo Portas left the party's leadership after 20 years in December 2015. In March 2016, Assunção Cristas, Portas's chosen successor, was overwhelmingly elected leader of the party over Miguel Mattos Chaves. Cristas became the party's first female leader. However, the subsequent legislative elections were disastrous for the party. The CDS-PP lost 13 of their previous 18 seats, leaving them with only five, and took less than 5% of the vote as António Costa's Socialist government strengthened their position, but fell short of an absolute majority. Cristas resigned as CDS-PP as the election results became clear.

2022 general electionEdit

A snap election was called for January 2022 after Costa's budget was rejected when the Left Bloc and Communists joined the right-wing parties in voting against it. The party was led by Francisco Rodrigues dos Santos, the leader of People's Youth, who narrowly won the 2020 leadership election. The election resulted in a surprise majority for Costa's Socialists after tightening polls, and the CDS-PP lost their five remaining seats on just 1.6% and for the first time since the restoration of democracy returned no members of the Assembly. The party received just 86,578 votes, less than half of their 2019 total. The CDS-PP's disastrous results were blamed partially on the rise of other right-wing parties, Liberal Initiative and Chega!, which both saw huge increases in support.[16] Francisco Rodrigues dos Santos, then the president of the party, resigned on the very same night.[12]

In the following congress, he was replaced by CDS's single MEP, Nuno Melo.[13]


A large ideological overlap exists between the CDS-PP and the Social Democratic Party (PSD).[17] The CDS-PP's original philosophy was based on Christian democracy,[18] and it was originally positioned in the centre.[19] 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.[20] The party shifted in the early 1990s under the leadership of Manuel Monteiro. It still considers itself to be a centrist party.[21] It has been also described as a national conservative party.[22]

The party formerly had a pro-EU line, but switched under Monteiro,[23] becoming mildly Eurosceptic,[24] including opposing the Maastricht Treaty,[25] with this change of policy credited for ending the party's decline.[18] As a result of the change, the European People's Party (EPP) expelled the CDS-PP from the EPP Group in the European parliament, with the CDS-PP joining the Union for Europe (UfE) group instead. Monteiro's successor, Paulo Portas, continued the CDS-PP's Eurosceptic line,[26] but rejoined the EPP.

The CDS-PP has always strongly opposed the legalisation of abortion in Portugal and is officially an anti-abortion party. It had campaigned vigorously against the legalisation of abortion up to ten weeks in the 1998 referendum on abortion and in the 2007 referendum, 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 positionsEdit

Some of the party's proposals include:

Until 1991Edit

Political supportEdit

In line with the two largest parties in Portuguese politics, but unlike the two far-left parties, the CDS-PP is a big tent party, with appeal across social and ideological groups.[27] The party's voters have a similar profile to the PSD.[28] It has low voter loyalty, with voter retention historically being half the level of the three other largest parties.[29]

The major issue on which the voter profile differs most significantly from the other parties is abortion, where those that identify as anti-abortion are significantly more likely to vote for the CDS-PP.[30]

The CDS-PP receives a considerable amount of support amongst farmers in the north, as well as among entrepreneurs and managers.[31]


International affiliationsEdit

The CDS-PP is a member party of the International Democrat Union (IDU) and European People's Party (EPP). One MEP currently sits 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.[18] In 2003, the party joined the European Democrats component of the European People's Party–European Democrats (EPP–ED) group. In 2006, it left the European Democrats – now collapsing due to the formation of the Movement for European Reform – to join the EPP group proper.

Election resultsEdit

Assembly of the RepublicEdit

Seat share in the Portuguese legislative elections

Election Leader Votes % Seats +/- Government
1975 Diogo Freitas do Amaral 434,879 7.6 (#4)
16 / 250
Constituent assembly
1976 876,007 16.0 (#3)
42 / 263
 26 Opposition[a]
1979 Democratic Alliance
43 / 250
 1 Coalition
1980 Democratic Alliance
46 / 250
 3 Coalition
1983 Lucas Pires 716,705 12.6 (#4)
30 / 250
 16 Opposition
1985 577,580 10.0 (#5)
22 / 250
 8 Confidence and supply
1987 Adriano Moreira 251,987 4.4 (#5)
4 / 250
 18 Opposition
1991 Diogo Freitas do Amaral 254,317 4.4 (#4)
5 / 230
 1 Opposition
1995 Manuel Monteiro 534,470 9.1 (#3)
15 / 230
 10 Opposition
1999 Paulo Portas 451,543 8.3 (#4)
15 / 230
 0 Opposition
2002 477,350 8.7 (#3)
14 / 230
 1 Coalition[b]
2005 416,415 7.2 (#4)
12 / 230
 2 Opposition
2009 592,778 10.4 (#3)
21 / 230
 9 Opposition
2011 652,194 11.7 (#3)
24 / 230
 3 Coalition[c]
2015 Portugal Ahead
18 / 230
 6 Coalition[d]
2019 Assunção Cristas 221,094 4.2 (#5)
5 / 230
 13 Opposition
2022 Francisco Rodrigues dos Santos 89,181 1.6 (#7)
0 / 230
 5 No seats

European ParliamentEdit

Election Leader Votes % Seats +/-
1987 Lucas Pires 868,718 15.4 (#3)
4 / 24
1989 587,497 14.2 (#4)
3 / 24
1994 Manuel Monteiro 379,044 12.8 (#3)
3 / 25
1999 Paulo Portas 283,067 8.2 (#4)
2 / 25
2004 Luís Queiró Força Portugal
2 / 24
2009 Nuno Melo 298,423 8.4 (#5)
2 / 22
2014 Aliança Portugal
1 / 21
2019 205,106 6.2 (#5)
1 / 21

Regional AssembliesEdit

Region Election Leader Votes % Seats +/- Government
Azores 2020 Artur Lima 5,739 5.5 (#3)
3 / 57
 1 Coalition[e]
Madeira 2019 Rui Barreto 8,246 5.8 (#3)
3 / 47
 8 Coalition[f]

List of leadersEdit

Paulo Portas was leader of the CDS-PP from 1998 to 2005, and again from 2007 to 2016.
Name Start End
1st Diogo Freitas do Amaral (1st time) 19 July 1974 20 February 1983
2nd Francisco Lucas Pires 20 February 1983 24 February 1985
3rd Adriano Moreira 24 February 1985 31 January 1988
4th Diogo Freitas do Amaral (2nd time) 31 January 1988 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 12 March 2016
9th Assunção Cristas 13 March 2016 26 January 2020
10th Francisco Rodrigues dos Santos 26 January 2020 3 April 2022
11th Nuno Melo 3 April 2022 Present day

Previous logosEdit


Logo of CDS (1975–1993)


Logo of CDS-PP (1993–2009)


  1. ^ a b "Partidos registados e suas denominações, siglas e símbolos" Tribunal Constitucional. (in Portuguese)
  2. ^ "CDS de Assunção conquistou mais de 4000 novos militantes". Diário de Notícias. 10 March 2018. Retrieved 10 March 2018.
  3. ^ "Visão | Dina e o fraquinho por Manuel Monteiro". 23 March 2016.
  4. ^ André Freire (2006), "The Party System of Portugal", in Oskar Niedermayer; Richard Stöss; Melanie Hass (eds.), Die Parteiensysteme Westeuropas, VS Verlag, p. 373
  5. ^ Howard J. Wiarda; Margaret MacLeish Mott (2001), Catholic Roots and Democratic Flowers: Political Systems in Spain and Portugal, Greenwood, p. 138
  6. ^ a b Nordsieck, Wolfram (2019). "Portugal". Parties and Elections in Europe. Retrieved 8 October 2019.
  7. ^ Richard Gunther; Jose R. Montero (2001). The Anchors of Partisanship: A Comparative Analysis of Voting Behavior in Four Southern European Democracies. Parties, Politics, and Democracy in the New Southern Europe. Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 108. ISBN 978-0-8018-6518-3.
  8. ^ José M. Magone (2011), Contemporary European Politics: A comparative introduction, Routledge, p. 117, ISBN 9780203846391
  9. ^ Tom Lansford, ed. (2013). Political Handbook of the World 2013. SAGE Publications. p. 1170. ISBN 978-1-4522-5825-6.
  10. ^ "Portuguese socialists defend post-EU bailout austerity". EUobserver. 6 May 2019. The centre-right CDS-PP and PSD parties put forward the €800m/year idea.
  11. ^ ""CDS is a right-wing party, period"". Noticias ao Minuto. 23 January 2020.
  12. ^ a b Portugal, Rádio e Televisão de (31 January 2022). "Francisco Rodrigues dos Santos demite-se da liderança do CDS-PP". Francisco Rodrigues dos Santos demite-se da liderança do CDS-PP (in Portuguese). Retrieved 2 February 2022.
  13. ^ a b Rodrigues, Sofia (3 April 2022). "Nuno Melo conquista 73% dos votos e lidera comissão política nacional do CDS". PÚBLICO (in Portuguese). Retrieved 3 April 2022.
  14. ^ "Morreu fundador do CDS Paulo Lowndes Marques". Correio de Manhã. Retrieved 26 January 2020.
  15. ^ Johansson, Karl Magnus (2002), "European People's Party", European Political Parties between Cooperation and Integration, Nomos, p. 65
  16. ^ Wise, Peter (30 January 2022). "Portugal's ruling Socialists on course to win snap election, exit polls show". Financial Times. Retrieved 2 February 2022.
  17. ^ Bruneau (2007), p. 77
  18. ^ a b c Magone (2003), p. 143
  19. ^ Costa Lobo, Marina; Magalhães, Pedro C. "Room for Manoeuvre: Euroscepticism in the Portuguese Parties and Electorate, 1976–2005". {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  20. ^ Bruneau (2007), p. 91
  21. ^ 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.
  22. ^ David Art (2011), "Memory Politics in Western Europe", in Uwe Backes; Patrick Moreau (eds.), The Extreme Right in Europe, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, p. 364, ISBN 978-3-525-36922-7
  23. ^ Leston-Bandeira (2004), p. 31
  24. ^ (in Portuguese)"Prova dos Factos. O CDS teve uma deriva antieuropeísta?". Público.
  25. ^ Magone (2003), p. 110
  26. ^ Magone (2003), p. 144
  27. ^ Freire et al. (2007), p. 138
  28. ^ Freire et al. (2007), p. 134
  29. ^ Sánchez-Cuenca, Ignacio (May 2003). "How can governments be accountable if voters vote ideologically?" (PDF). Working Paper. CEACS. 2003 (191).
  30. ^ Freire et al. (2007), p. 117
  31. ^ Veiga, Francisco José; Gonçalves Veiga, Linda (2004). "The Determinants of Vote Intentions in Portugal" (PDF). Public Choice. 118 (3–4): 341–364. doi:10.1023/B:PUCH.0000019913.00616.e2. hdl:1822/1407. S2CID 189838190.


  1. ^ a b Coalition government with PS between January and August 1978. In Opposition between 1976 and January 1978; and then between August 1978 and 1979.
  2. ^ Coalition government (PSD-CDS–PP).
  3. ^ Coalition government (PSD-CDS–PP).
  4. ^ Minority government (2015); Opposition (2015–2019).
  5. ^ Coalition government PSD-CDS–PP-PPM; Confidence & supply gov't: PSD/CDS-PP/PPM ⇐ (CHEGAIL).
  6. ^ Coalition government PSD-CDS–PP.


External linksEdit