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Assembly Election WonModerates
Constituent Assembly Election
Portuguese moderates, led by the doc*alist Party,esounding victory over the ConununistB in the national constituent assembly election on Friday.
Unofficial results announced Saturday gave the three moderate partiesthanercent of the vote: the Socialists receivedercent, the center-left Popular Democratsercent, and the moderate right-wing Social Democraticercent. The Communists and their alliesotal ofercent,ercent goinq to the Communist Party.
Overercent of the registered voters turned out, most exercising the right to vote for the first time. The Socialist tally exceeded the party's highest expectations. The party showed remarkable strength in all areas of the country. The Socialiats almost matched the Communist vote in industrial towns and in the Alentejo reoion, where the Communists had worked hard to gain the support of peasants on the large estates of absentee landlords.
The Socialists also polled better than expected in the traditionally conservative and heavily populated north,opular Democratic stronghold.
The Socialists' impressive showing will increase their political influence, even though leaders of the ruling Armed Forces Movement say the eleotion was nothing morepedagogical exercise." The terms of the
constitution to be approved by tha constituent assemblyoregone conclusion, but that body's deliberations could have an impact on the policies of the military government.
The Socialists are assured of over one third of the seats. Altogether, the moderate parties may control as much asercent of the assembly. '
Did Anyone Win Anything?
Party chief Mario Soares, |
Socialist victory. Soares recognizee, inof the election, that Socialistis still dependent on the consent of He is trying to make the electionto tho Movement by describing it asfor "progress'.ve"
elevised roundtable discussion with the leaders of the four parties in the governing coalition, Soares was conciliatory. He pledged that his party would comply with the pre-electoral pact signed by the six major parties that turned power over to the Movement.
Soares is wooing the Movement in an effort to split it away from the Communists. Up to now, the leaders of the Movement have found the highly disciplined Communists easy to work with* the party never criticises the Movement's policies. Thev found the moderates parties were more difficult to handle.
Movement leaders are pleased that thewas peaceful and that it boosted Portugal's
y have Played down the moderates' victory and stressed the political
naivete of the Portuguese people.
On Saturday, Information Minister Jesuino and Revolutionary Council member Correiaress conference. Jesuino remarked that the election really did not matter, it "was just an exercise De mb " 0n"e9islative assembly in
Movement had been campaigning to encourage
SETheir Political preference tolank ballot, triggering speculation they would use such votes to indicate their own popular support. The percentage of blank or spoiled ballots amountedercent. Jesuino said the Movement had hoped forercent.
The spokesmen said tha Movement did not regard the electionefeat for their SkMnsSS,Jf! aagainst high unemployment and inflation. Jesuino, on the contrary,the voteictory for the Movement because the Socialists and the other Lop vote-getters had previously agreed to the Movement's platform.
According to Jesuino, "the first lesson tohe results of these elections isXtn% toward socialism has been reinforced" and thus there is no reason to modify the government's basic policies.
The election may hasten the growth of factionalism in the Revolutionary Council. Recent reports indicate that the division between moderate and radical factions that existed before the unsuccessful Marchoup has become more complex.
the Movement reacts to the moderate victory will largely depend on which faction comes out on top.
A moderate election victory was feared most by the radical officers. Prime Minister Goncalves may well suffer politically as the result of the vote; he made no secret of his support for the Communist-dominated Portuguese Democratic
President Costa Gomes is most likely pleased at the outcome, but he and the moderates still probably lack the power to turn the situation to their advantage.
Coutinho, on the other hand, was one of the major proponents of the blank ballot, and is probably disappointed at the failure of the ploy. He may still try to capitalize on his strength among tha military and try to form his
"civilian Armed Forcesdeologically situated between the Communists and the Socialists.
Impact on Communists
The Communist Party and the Portuguese Democratic Movement stand to lose the mostesult of the election. Both portray themselves as the representatives of theut the "people" have disagreed. After spending more money than anyone else and using their organization to get their supporters to the polls, they can hardly complain that the people were not aware of their program.
The party will probably not protest the election, but will most likely complain that the "anticemmunista" and "antidemocratic forces" sabotaged their campaign.
Corrauniat leader Alvaro Cunhal summed up his party's approach, stating that "we know that the strength of the Communist Party by far exceeds the electoral influence as shown by the election figures, and therefore we believe that the election results in no way harm the Communist Party."
The Communists will encourage thebelittle the election results becausein the near future -spends onability to influence the leadersOriginal document.