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Democracy and citizens’ expectations

Ana Catarina Mendes
Member of the Portuguese Parliament and Leader of the Socialist Party’s Parliamentary Group

The Social Democratic parties are the leading political force in the fight against the enemies of democracy because the success of a political system is measured by its capacity to meet the expectations of its citizens, by its capacity to improve the living standards of its people.


Let there be no illusion: democracy is a social, cultural and civic construction and, as any construction, it needs to be looked after and taken care of. But too many of us take it for granted.

Democracy is the political system that best allows the participation of all citizens in the decision-making process and most of us do not even consider any other way of governance.

But democracy cannot  be taken for granted and we must educate and defend it against those who jeopardise it, willingly or unconsciously.

Democracy is a fragile state that is weakened by the growing hate speech and  by the polarisation between “the good” and “the bad” where ideology should be the centre of debate.

The best way to defend democracy is to put forward robust solutions to society’s problems and the Portuguese Socialist Party has been leading the way.

Most Portuguese citizens recognise the success of the progressive policies put forward by the current Socialist government, underpinned by an agreement between all political forces of the left.

Economic growth in Portugal is stronger than it has been at any moment during the past decades and – for the first time since 1999 – stronger than the Eurozone average; Portugal has had the biggest increase in investment of the last 19 years; Portugal has the lowest unemployment rate since 2002, with the creation of 330 thousand jobs since the beginning of this government; Portugal has the lowest deficit in the history of democracy in the country. The current government is an exercise of responsibility and of the deepening of democracy, because the parties converge for the sake of national interest.

The groundbreaking local election results in 2017, with the biggest victory of any political party by the socialists, shows that the Portuguese society trusts the progressive parties.

The best way to defend democracy is to put forward robust solutions to society’s problems and the Portuguese Socialist Party has been leading the way.

In the 2019 EU elections, we must meet the expectations of European citizens. This is the time to build Europe, to build the European Union that defends solidarity and political depth. We need more Europe, and we urgently need a new path to bring us back to the deepening of the  political project.

The Progressives and Social Democrats must be the credible alternative, choosing to be on the side of the unsatisfied, of those who long for more and a better Europe. This is a new and demanding challenge for us Socialists. We must be capable of implementing reforms and changes in our countries, in Europe, as well as of reinventing our parties.

What is at stake in the next European elections is much more than selfishness against solidarity. We cannot build polarised societies that weaken democracies. We must strive to build political projects that answer our time’s needs. The challenges are plenty and the citizens expect our parties to put forward such a project.

Parties are the keystone of democracy and the best way to defend democracy is through public policies that solve problems, that improve the living standards of the citizens, that defend a more cohesive and fairer society. Social democracy must continue to do exactly that.

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