In a post published on the LSE EUROPP blog, I showed that the proportion of people that do not have any interest in politics whatsoever is much larger in Portugal than in other similar countries. This might be a reason why there hasn’t been an upsurge in support for radical left alternatives in spite of austerity policies in this country. Less politicized voters prefer abstention rather than voice. This was shown by a classic analysis by Daniel Gaxie in France.
Now why are people not interested in politics in Portugal? We know that interest in politics is strongly correlated to levels of education, and it happens that the Portuguese electorate is also one of the least educated measured by average years of full-time education completed. In the above graph I have plotted data from Wave 6 of the European Social Survey (2012). It shows the relationship between average years in full-time education per country, and average interest in politics on a scale from 0 (no interest) to 3 (very interested). There is a positive relationship (it also holds within Portugal, in graph 2), and Portugal clearly stands out.