Tuesday, 25 January 2011


When it comes to shallow journalism, The Age is always an exemplary model, because it never fails when you need it to demonstrate this thesis. Today’s headline President wins outright in Portugal just stated, that the incumbent Anibal Cavaco Silva “grabbed more than the 50 per cent of the vote needed to win outright”. The Socialist Manuel Alegre came second with 19.75 per cent.

Was that it? Another triumph of republican democracy? You could think so if you just read The Age.

The Portuguese media tell a complete different story. In reality the Portuguese Monarchists were jubilant, because they had called for a boycott of the presidential elections, which proved to be successful. Only 46.62 per cent of those entitled to vote bothered to go to the polls: 5,139,583 out of 9,631,222 registered voters stayed away from the polling booths. Among the 4,490,147 voters, 4.26 per cent or 191,170 cast a blank vote another 86,545 or 1.93 per cent cast an invalid vote. In the end, a mere 40.4 per cent wanted to have a say in who should be Portugal's president - 59.6 per cent could not care less about the republic's highest representative.

So, let’s examine The Age’s news item: Mr Cavaco Silva won outright? He received 2,230,240 votes, which represent only 23.16 per cent of the electorate. Compared with the last presidential election in 2006 Mr Cavaco Silva lost 526,372 vote. His main rival, the Socialist Manuel Alegre did not fare much better: He lost 294,591 votes (down from 1,126,612 to 832,021) compared to 2006.

Portuguese Monarchists were delighted about the result of this presidential election: “Portuguese say NO to the republic" (PORTUGUESES DIZEM NÃO À REPÚBLICA) was one of the headlines.

Before the elections, the Portuguese had been called to “de-republic” Portugal (NESTE DOMINGO, VAMOS DESREPUBLICANIZAR PORTUGAL) and Monarchists were shown how to vote invalid by writing in “I want a King!

So, what The Age loved to call an outright win may be the beginning of the long end of the Portuguese republic. Long live the King! Viva o Rei! Viva Portugal Real!


Maria Menezes said...

Thank you!

Nuno Castelo-Branco said...

We did everything for the outrageous result. Internet it's really important and the mission was well done. They've lost the legitimacy.

Nuno Oliveira said...

I beg to disagree. I did not vote because I don´t believe in any of the people that run as candidates. It had nothing to do with republic vs monarchy.

Besides this, you have to consider that the number of people not voting has been in this percentage for many years. It is a growing paradigm and I am very sure it has nothing to do with the system you choose but with the people that are "allowed" to be candidates...

Combustões said...

If "they" give us the smallest opportunity to vote for Our King and Restoration, "they" will know "com quantos paus se faz uma canoa", a portuguese idiomatic expression which means how much wood You need to build-up a canoe. In other words, they will realize how unlegitimate is the present regime .

LAW Wells said...

Nuno, a quick glance at the last five presidential elections on Wikipedia gave me the following results (uncorrected for blank/invalid votes):

2011 - 46.52%
2006 - 61.53%
2001 - 49.71%
1996 - 66.29%
1991 - 62.16%

Going back further reveals even higher basic participation rates.

I'd say, then, that your claim that the number of people not voting being at that level for some time is incorrect, and furthermore, while disillusionment with the present crop of politicians was a valid reason for staying away, that does not preclude the possibility that a preference for monarchy was also a contributing factor.

radical royalist said...

@ Nuno Oliveira.
LAW Wells already pointed out that this year's participation at the presidential elections was the lowest ever.

It may be true that people were dissatisfied with the candidates – or just too lazy to go to the polling stations. But fact remains, that in 2006 61.76 per cent of the Portuguese voted (5,546,316 out of 8,980,026), and the figure dropped to 46.63 in 2011 (4,490,147 out of 9,629,630). And while in 2006 58,977 cast a blank vote and 43,493 voted invalid, these figures and risen to 191,167 (blank) and 86,545 (invalid) in 2011.

I was wondering why the Communist candidate Francisco Lopes achieved only 300,921 votes (7.1%). The PCP’s candidate of 2006, Jerónimo Carvalho de Sousa, had attracted466,428 voters( 8.6%). What happened to the Communist strongholds of the South? Is the party solidarity disappearing? I had suspected the Communists would be the most likely political formation that could chase their supporters to the ballot boxes. Not anymore?!

Nuno Castelo-Branco said...

Law Wells

It seems that you're watching the results upside down. Your numbers reveal the low participation, nothing else!

Nuno Oliveira said...


When you take into account the fact that portuguese living population is less than 10M and that the number of registered voters is over 9.5M, something is very wrong.

It has been shown on the news (not saying it is true!) that about 1.250.000 registered voters are either dead or living abroad. That would cut down the number of people not voting by a tremendous amount.

Statistics are very funny in the way that they are used in the way the party showing them is interested.

If you have a statistic showing a growing number of people being cured by the Health System, you have 2 ways to deal with them. The interested in investing more into curing systems will say that you have a better health system because you cure more people every time. On the other hand, the people interested in prevention will say that the system is not responding properly because you are getting more and more people unhealthy that actualy need to be healed.

Even if you just count the number of actual people voting, you get less people voting every time. It means people are discontent with politics/politicians. It does not show people wanting for a previous regime.

As royalists you give only one alternative. I give you a third. Banish lobbies and corrupt people and any system might work.

LAW Wells said...

Ms Castlo-Branco, I wasn't actually disagreeing with what the Radical Royalist said. I'm on your side!

What I was responding to was Ms Oliveria's assertion that the Portuguese elections had historically always had low turnouts. A drop of 20% of the electorate though is something that reflects widespread disillusionment, which has been capitalised on by monarchist attention-grabbing (with the flags and so on) in order to advertise an alternative and bring more people into the monarchist fold.

Perhaps it was just a mistake of Google Translate.

And Ms Oliveira, first of all, an estimate of the Portuguese population puts it at 11.3M in 2010. Ergo, an electorate of ~9.5M is not unreasonable (and if the number of dead voters still registered is that high, then I'd be very concerned about possible fraud).

Second, you appeal to omnipotence when you claim that everyone who didn't vote did so because they decided not to choose between bad and worse. I must ask how you know this, because frankly, unless you're God, you couldn't. So I get the feeling that you're projecting your own beliefs onto others.

You also fail to realise that disgust at political candidates and a preference for monarchy are not mutually exclusive reasons. In fact, they are complimentary. Monarchy is an alternative system to the republic. Those disillusioned with the latter will naturally be more attracted to the former, and the attention-grabbing Portuguese monarchists have used this disillusionment to great effect, raising their profile immensely. You deny their influence at your own peril, Ms Oliveira, and ignore an alternative system that is demonstrably superior to your own detriment.

Nuno Castelo-Branco said...

Well... I agree and I simply tried to inform that we did everything possible to arrive to such result. 2010 was a terrible year for the republic-"scheme" and the number of abstentions it's very different. Many people did not want to vote, showing their "turn the back" to the legitimacy of the elite-oligarchy. Will the next future will say something else?

Nuno Oliveira said...

@Law Wells,
"And Ms Oliveira, first of all, an estimate of the Portuguese population puts it at 11.3M in 2010."
It's mr by the way. Just finished listening to a famous politician commenting on one of the portuguese TV's on this subject.
The total portuguese population is estimated in 10.6M. The total of emigrants is estimated in 426 thousand (I think this was the number he mentioned). The total underage population is almost 1M. If you add this to the registered voters you will end up with over 11M. Which is realy not the case. By his calculations, even if you consider that a third of the emigrants are registered (which is hoping quite a lot), there is an excess of 1M people registered. There is no way around it.

This would put the levels of non-voters around 46%. Much lower than what the results show.

"You also fail to realise that disgust at political candidates and a preference for monarchy are not mutually exclusive reasons."

I must say that your ability to understand what I say goes way beyond my own. Which must make you close to godhood. Keep up the way you go and you might just reach there.

I did not say that people that did not vote are not simpathetic with monarchy. I say that its dangerous to assume that all are. If I advertise, next elections, that all gay people should not vote to prove that they are discontent with all the discrimination they are subjected to, can I assume that 40 or 50% of Portuguese people are gay? Of course not. And you don't have to have god like omnipotence to assume this. Thus you cannot assume any number of pro-monarchy people in the outcome of a voting for a completely different issue. No matter what the stregth of the movement was.

"Monarchy is an alternative system to the republic."

I totaly agree. But it is not the only alternative. That's what you seem to misunderstand in my words. Maybe this is due, again, to your god like powers, which enables you to discern that any alternative to what you believe is not an alternative. I don't assume answers. I question the answers given by someone that assumes he knows he's got the right answers. Don't we all?

LAW Wells said...

My apologies, Mr Oliveira (you can tell how many Portuguese people I know... and with the internet, I have no excuse).

In terms of raw numbers, I'll plain admit I got mine from Wikipedia. I'm unaware if there's compulsory voter registration (not unlike Australia) and voluntary voting (unlike Australia), but I suspect it is more similar to the American voluntary registration and voting (and you seem to confirm this).

In plain terms then, this means that something is very rotten in Portuguese democratic processes, but that is not a matter for this blog.

And second, perhaps you should re-read your own posts on the matter. From your first post, you declare that it had nothing to do with republic vs monarchy.

And a good chunk from your second post:

It means people are discontent with politics/politicians. It does not show people wanting for a previous regime.

As royalists you give only one alternative. I give you a third. Banish lobbies and corrupt people and any system might work.

So tell me, in light of these statements (which are your words and not mine), what other conclusion can I draw than that which I already did - namely, that you are underestimating the monarchist sentiment among the Portuguese population.

I never claimed that everyone who didn't vote did so for this reason. For some, I'm sure, it's exactly as you said (though I didn't put that caveat in my previous postings).

And your example is a red herring too. Being homosexual generally isn't a choice in terms of preference (acting on that preference is another matter). Political preferences are choices, based on our influences and beliefs. Don't confuse the two.

And perhaps you might suggest one of these alternative forms of government you have suggested. Apart from anarchy (as in the conservative form - see The Shire from Tolkein's works), no other forms of governance (wherin republics are governed more by constitutional documents and monarchies far more by tradition and custom, as definitions of their form) come to mind.

Unless you invented one.

Nuno Oliveira said...

@Law Wells
Appologies accepted as Nuno is a Portuguese name without translation to any other language, although I might add that no offense was taken anyway.

"It had nothing to do with republic vs monarchy." Yes. I did say it. Right after i said "I did not vote because I don´t believe in any of the people that run as candidates.". This was meant as an example of the incorrectness implied in the post:

"In reality the Portuguese Monarchists were jubilant, because they had called for a boycott of the presidential elections, which proved to be successful."

You cannot assume anything based on a movement that was not put to the choice of the public. Just because you publicise you want people not to vote if they agree with the movement, that does not mean everyone that did so agreed. Here I am speaking for myself as I am part of the non-voters.

As to the numbers of registerd voters vs real numbers of non-voters, the system is either corrupt or flawed. I have my opinion but as it is not based on substantiated proof I can only theorize. The point was merely that when one uses numbers to prove a point, one must make sure of their solidity or the assumptions will be immediatly shaken. I do not deny that the assumptions can be true. I just state that you cannot prove them and thus, your theory is not provable. You cannot be happy if you cannot prove your theory.

As to systems, old or new, I say that they all would have many good and bad things. The problem is not the system you choose. But in the selfishness of the human being. I can believe in anarchy and still realise that it is not feasable in the current state of events. So we are left with the less flawed. Which is still democracy. And that can be either a monarchic or republican one. I choose the latter as it still allows me the right to some freedom of choice of who I whish to have rulling over my affairs. I do not believe in anybody's inate right to do so. As a free human being, no one has the right to decide over how I should live my life. Much less someone who was merely born to it. What has to be changed is the paradigm of political ambitions in a way that we allow people with a true altruistic nature to reach positions of decision. Something that is true for the whole world and not for Portugal only. And I mean the "whole" without exceptions.

This would take us into a philosofical debate which was not the intention of this post anyway and so I will refrain from discussing it.