Exercise Your Right to Vote

By Alexandra Soares – Advogada

Do you see things in your area that you would like to change? In October, you will have the opportunity to have your voice heard at the local elections.

If you are a resident in Portugal, you can vote in your freguesia (parish) and have your say on how your freguesia or municipality is run. Elections will decide the local parliament, the mayor, the president of your municipal general assembly, and your parish president.

Candidates are generally affiliated with a political party. The two biggest political parties are PS and PSD, which get the most votes. We also have minority parties that are relevant in Portuguese politics including the BE, PCP, PAN, CDS and IL. Generally speaking, BE, PCP and PAN are left-wing ideologies, while CDS is conservative. Meanwhile, IL is liberal progressive. Presently PSD and PS, the two main parties, are known as centrists and have become more centre-aligned and more ideologically similar in recent years.

It is also possible for a group of citizens to create a non-political alternative by creating an independent list of candidates. For this, the group of citizens need to collect signatures from a minimum number of residents to support the legalisation of the list by the court.

My reason for helping people understand how to vote arose when the Miradouro de Luz Association started to receive questions about what can be done to stop massive construction and building on green spaces. The response is that everyone needs to engage in public participation. That is the only way you can have a say.

In 2019, foreign residents made up around 32% of Lagos’ population (based on available data). I am sure this has increased substantially due to Brexit and changes in the law and I estimate the figure is now nearer 35%. Most of these people are not registered to vote.

I have been explaining to the foreign community how you can register to vote. This can be done at your parish office. Due to COVID, each office is asking you to make an appointment with a phone call. However, in my experience, you can sometimes just knock on the door. Take your passport and residency document. It is not necessary to have the Cartão de Residência Permanente from SEF. You can take your Certificado de Registro de União Europeu, which is the piece of paper the câmara issued you with. If you are not European, you need to have a residency card from SEF. If you are British and were resident in Portugal on 31 December, your QR Code will be enough. You need to register before the end of July.

After a few days, you can go back to the office, or telephone or email to get your number. Then, on the day of the election, you arrive at the polling station with some ID and your voting number. On arrival, the attendant will find your name on the list.

In the Portuguese county elections, you vote in three ballot papers: one for the council (Câmara Municipal), another for the County Assembly (Assembleia Municipal), and the third for the Parish Assembly (Assembleia de Freguesia). The list of candidates for the town council will include the president or mayor, secretary and treasurer. The party that has the most votes in the council election becomes the president (mayor) of the municipality for the next four years. Likewise, the candidates with the most votes in each parish assembly becomes president of that parish for the next four years.

The president of a câmara has a lot of power and controls areas of local government such as water supply, street cleaning, housing, social aid, education, culture and sport: These areas of policy are split between the vereadores (councillors that were elected from their party). Usually, the vereadores from other parties have no direct responsibility for the county administration. They mainly sit in the by-weekly council meetings and present their opinions or vote proposals to the council on matters such as the creation of the local police.

Before the elections, there will be a big campaign; you will be able to research and decide who to vote for.

Each foreign or Portuguese resident should register himself or herself in the head office parish of their residence. In order to find the contact details of your local office, simply google the name of your parish.

Aljezur Parishes


Junta de Freguesia de Aljezur
Rua Capitão Salgueiro Maia 8670-005 Aljezur
+351 282 998 343

Junta de Freguesia da Bordeira
Rua do Comércio, N.º 6, 8670-220 Bordeira
+351 282 973 141

Junta de Freguesia de Odeceixe
Largo do Povo 8670-320 Odeceixe
+351 282 947 255

Junta de Freguesia do Rogil
Avenida 16 de Junho, 8670-440 Rogil
+351 282 995 001


Vila do Bispo Parishes


Junta de Freguesia de Sagres
Rua Joaquim Maurício 8650-383 Sagres
+351 282 624 372

Junta Junta de Freguesia de Vila do Bispo e Raposeira
Rua Santa Maria do Cabo, n.º 38, 8650-416 Vila do Bispo
+351 282 639 101

Junta de Junta de Freguesia de Budens
Largo do Sol Posto 8650-058 Budens
+351 282 695 377

Junta de Junta de Barão de São Miguel
Estr. Mun. Norte 21, 8650-452
+351 282 695 423


Lagos Parishes


Junta de Freguesia de S. Gonçalo de Lagos
Town/villages/places: city of Lagos, Atalaia, Quinta da Boavista, Chinicato, Sargaçal, Albardeira, Meia Praia and Portelas
Rua das Juntas de Freguesia, 12, Lagos
+351 282 763 827

Junta de Freguesia da Luz
Villages/places: Luz, Espiche, Almadena, Burgau (east) Montinhos da Luz and Ferrel
Rua 25 de Abril, 35, Luz
+351 282 789 722

Junta de Freguesia de Odiáxere
Villages/places: Odiáxere, Vale da Lama, Torre and Arão
Largo da Liberdade, Odiáxere
+351 282 798 547

União Freguesias de Bensafrim e Barão de S. João
Villages/places: Bensafrim, Barão de S. João, Cotifo, Colégio and Colinas Verdes.
Estrada Nacional 120, 18, Bensafrim / Rua 25 de Abril nº14, 8600-013 Barão de São João
+351 282 687 169 / 282 687 175


Portimão Parishes


Junta de Freguesia de Portimão
Praça da República, n.º 25, 8500-540 Portimão
+351 282 402 140

Junta de Freguesia de Alvor
Urbanização Rossio de São Pedro, 8500-081 Alvor
+351 282 459 326

Junta de Freguesia da Mexilhoeira Grande
Bairro do Figueiral Velho 8500-132 Mexilhoeira Grande
+351 282 968 225


Lagoa Parishes


União Freguesias de Estômbar e Parchal
Trav. Maria Sárrea Mascarenhas Gaivão 8400-047 / Rua João de Deus – Edif. Vila Verdense R/C 8400-609
+351 282 420 030 / 282 418 626

Junta de Freguesia de Ferragudo
Rua Zeca Afonso Bloco C loja 6 8400 – 231 Ferragudo
+351 282 461 369

União Freguesias de Lagoa e Carvoeiro
Largo do convento de São José nº 4 8400–400 Lagoa
+351 282 352 655

Junta de Freguesia de Porches
Rua da Praça s/n 8400-481 Porches
+351 282 342 390


Share this edition