Learn more about the candidates and the electoral process in Portugal in this guide.

Who are the parties?

Three ballot papers are made available to each voter: one for electing the executive of each of the 308 municipal councils, another for each municipal assembly and a third for the election of parish assemblies.

From the campaign budgets delivered to the Entity of Accounts and Political Financing, it can be concluded that more than 20 parties are running for local authorities, alone or in coalitions.

They are Aliança, BE, CDS-PP, Chega, Ergue-te, Iniciativa Liberal, JPP, Livre, MAS, MPT, Nós, Cidadãos!, PAN, PCP e PEV (que formam a CDU), PCTP/MRPP, PDR, PPM, PS, PSD, PTP, RIR and Volt Portugal.

The National Election Commission (CNE) estimates that a total of about 12,370 candidate lists have been presented, of which about 1,035 are from groups of voters (GCE).

This number of so-called independent candidacies is similar to that of 2017, the year of the previous municipal candidates, when 948 lists of citizens were presented to the parishes and another 93 to the chambers.

Of the 308 municipalities in the country, according to the budgets presented, only 64 this year have applications from groups of citizens. In four municipalities, there are two movements in each: Albufeira (in the district of Faro), Sabrosa (Vila Real), Redondo (Évora) and Castelo de Paiva (Aveiro).

According to a survey by the Lusa agency, around 63% (194) of the 308 councils have at least one woman as a candidate for the presidency of a council, with Braga registering the highest number - five candidacies. On the other hand, there are 114 councils without any female candidate for the presidency of the municipality.

According to Público newspaper, around 80% of the current mayors are re-candidates this year.

Who is voting?

A total of 9,323,688 citizens are registered on the electoral roll, according to the registration data provided by the General Secretariat of the Ministry of Internal Administration (MAI).

Among those registered, 29,814 are foreign citizens, 13,924 of whom are from Member States of the European Union and 15,890 from third countries, namely Cape Verde, Brazil, the United Kingdom and Venezuela.

According to the MAI, “with the inalterability of the electoral rolls, which occurred on September 11, the voting places indicated by the city councils and parish councils were also defined to install a total of 13,821 polling stations, which corresponds to on average one station to every 675 voters”.

Information on the electoral rolls is available on the website of the General Secretariat of MAI at https://www.sg.mai.gov.pt/AdministracaoEleitoral/EleicoesReferendos/AutarquiasLocais/Paginas/default.aspx?FirstOpen=1

Timeline of elections

Local elections take place between 08:00 and 20:00 local time on Sunday, 26 September. The official campaign started on the 14th and ended on 24 September, according to the calendar published by the CNE on its official website.

On Sunday, after the election, the local tabulation notice is immediately posted at the polling station door and the results communicated to the parish council or officially designated entity.

The general tabulation starts on Tuesday, 28th, and the official map with the results of the elections must be published in the Diário da República within 30 days of receiving the minutes of all the general tabulation meetings.

Who is spending what?

According to the campaign budgets given to the Entity of Accounts and Political Financing, parties and party coalitions expect to spend a total of 31 million euros on the electoral campaign for local authorities, less than the 35 million euros four years ago, and the PS continues to have the highest budget, with 11.43 million euros.

The campaign budgets of the candidate citizen groups total 2,639,120.7 euros. If the 31 million euros that the parties intend to spend, alone or in coalitions, are added to this amount, the expenditure on the electoral campaign is more than 33.6 million euros, below the approximately 39 million euros verified in 2017.

The campaign in the municipality of Lisbon should be the one on which parties and coalitions will spend the most, totalling 795,000 euros, while for Porto, 517,000 euros are budgeted.

Changes to councillor numbers

With these elections, six municipalities will have fewer councillors in the municipal executive, due to a decrease in registered voters, according to data from the CNE.

The municipalities that lose mandates in the respective chambers are Vinhais and Mogadouro, in the district of Bragança, the municipality (and district capital) of Vila Real, the municipality of Fafe, in Braga, Pombal, in Leiria, and Vendas Novas, in Évora.

They all lose two terms each. Vinhais, Mogadouro and Vendas Novas have five, and Vila Real, Fafe and Pombal have seven.

ON the other hand, and down to only three extra voters, Portimão, in Faro, will have a higher executive, which will go from seven to nine elements (the president and eight councillors), because this Algarve county has increased from 48,497 voters to 50,003 registered voters, since the elections 2017.

The number of mandates of each municipal body is defined according to the results of the voter registration, obtained through the central database of voter registration and published by the Ministry of Internal Administration in the Diário da República.

The number of registered voters in the municipalities, according to the electoral roll, does not correspond to the population residing in those territories.

The law in force establishes that the municipal executive is composed of five elements in councils with 10,000 or less voters; by seven elements in municipalities with more than 10,000 voters and up to 50,000; by nine elements in chambers with more than 50,000 and up to 100,000 voters and by 11 elements when the registered population exceeds 100,000.

However, the law also establishes that in Lisbon 17 mandates are assigned and in Porto 13.