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The Portuguese elect a Parliament that can shift to the right

Photo: Patricia de Melo Moreira Agence France-Presse The leader of the far-right Chega party, André Ventura, during a rally in Lisbon on March 8, 2024. The Portuguese vote on March 10 for the general election.

Thomas Cabral – Agence France-Presse in Lisbon

March 10, 2024

  • Europe

The Portuguese vote on Sunday for legislative elections in which the center-right opposition hopes to consolidate its slight lead in the polls but risks having to deal with populists on the rise.

Three months before the European elections, these elections in Portugal could confirm that the far right is on the rise across the Old Continent, as Italian and Dutch voters have shown.

The Iberian country was one of the few in Europe to be led by the left when the socialist Antonio Costa, in power for eight years, resigned at the beginning of November, giving up running for another mandate after being cited in an investigation into influence peddling.

Polls open at 8 a.m. (local and GMT) and several projections of the results, based on exit polls, will be broadcast by local media at 8 p.m.< /p>

The results of the vote, in which some 10.8 million voters are expected to participate, will be announced in the evening, as the ballots are counted.

With just over 30% of voting intentions, the center-right Democratic Alliance (AD) led by Luis Montenegro, 51, was leading the polls before the vote, with a slim lead on the Socialist Party (PS), which grouped around Pedro Nuno Santos, 46 years old.

Risk of impasse

Third political force since the legislative elections of January 2022, which the PS won with an absolute majority, the anti-system Chega (Enough) party led by André Ventura, 41, could more than double its score from the last legislative elections and obtain almost 17% of the votes.

Despite the large number of undecided voters, pre-election surveys predict that the entire right (made up of the AD, Chega and the Liberal Initiative) should be in the majority in the next Parliament.

But Luis Montenegro, an experienced jurist and parliamentarian, has already ruled out forming a government with the support of the far right, at the risk of causing an impasse if he does not reach the majority of the 230 seats alone or by allying with the liberals.

“Don’t worry. First, stability will be given to us by the Portuguese people. Then, it is us, with our performance, who will guarantee it,” he declared on Friday, during his last rally.

His main opponent, the socialist Pedro Nuno Santos, for his part recalled throughout the campaign that the right, during its last spell in power, between 2011 and 2015, had applied severe budgetary austerity.

Tarnished balance sheet

“When there is a crisis, we already know that it is salaries and pensions that they attack,” underlined this former minister from the left wing of the PS.

Third man in this electoral race, the populist André Ventura affirmed for his part that the two major parties of the center, which have shared power since the advent of democracy in Portugal, there is everything just 50 years old, “are just two sides (of the same) coin.”

“One cannot succeed the other. For change, we need Chega,” said this law professor and former football commentator, known for his xenophobic attacks against the Gypsy minority.

Despite the consolidation of public finances, growth above the European average and unemployment at its lowest, the socialist government's record is tarnished by inflation, dysfunctions of health services and schools, as well as a strong housing crisis.

Added to this were the series of corruption scandals, which ultimately brought down Antonio Costa, and the doubling of the immigrant population in the space of five years, two promising themes for the extreme right.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116