Chega redoubles the pressure to enter the Government of Portugal supported by his foreseeable rise due to the emigrant vote |

Nine days after the elections in Portugal, uncertainty about the final result dissipates. The provisional data from the counting of the emigrants’ vote gives, for the moment, two seats to the extreme right of Chega, one to the conservative coalition Democratic Alliance (AD) and one to the Socialist Party (PS), according to the newspaper Public. Although this relationship may vary slightly tomorrow, when the scrutiny is concluded, it is ruled out that a last-minute change could occur that would allow the socialists to overtake the formation of Luís Montenegro, the leader of the Social Democratic Party (PSD, center-right) that heads the AD coalition.

The election night of Sunday the 10th closed with a victory speech for Montenegro and the assumption of defeat by the socialist Pedro Nuno Santos. The margin was so narrow (79 deputies from AD and 77 from PS; just 51,029 ballots between them) that the emigrants’ vote became a crucial issue. The million and a half Portuguese who live abroad elect four seats, two for Europe and two for the rest. The stage, therefore, remained open.

However, the count does not point to a change in the first position but to a triumph of the extreme right, which has given new impetus to the demand of André Ventura, leader of Chega, to enter the Government of Portugal. “If Luís Montenegro wants to rush the country into another election in seven or eight months, it will be his choice. Chega says he is available and on the other side they say no means no. We say yes, yes to build an alternative,” Ventura declared on Monday, at the end of the meeting with the President of the Republic, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, at the Belém palace.

Although Luís Montenegro and other leaders have repeated in public that the populists will not enter the Executive, the strategy of the far right remains firm around that demand. Chega is trying these days to mobilize the PSD politicians in favor of the agreement in the rear and, in public, Ventura tours sets to defend his right to co-govern after receiving more than a million votes. After his hour and a half audience with Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, the founder of Chega reported that at the moment “there was no understanding with AD that would guarantee the stability of the government for four years.”

The meeting of the Chega delegation with the head of state was delicate. Shortly before the elections, the weekly Express He reported that Rebelo de Sousa would block Chega’s presence in the Government and on election night Ventura recriminated this veto. On Monday, according to Ventura, Rebelo de Sousa denied the news and said that he would not hinder the entry of the far right into the governorship. The President of the Republic posted a note on his website reminding that he does not comment on interviews with political leaders. This afternoon he will receive the general secretary of the PS, Pedro Nuno Santos, and on Wednesday, Luís Montenegro.

Socialists in opposition

After assuming the leadership of the party just three months ago, in a hastily put together process to resolve the crisis caused by the resignation of António Costa, Pedro Nuno Santos wants to establish himself at the head of the opposition, shake off the errors of the government of Costa and put together a project that will win back the lost voters. The PS was unable to retain the support of more than half a million people in these elections who had trusted the party in January 2022, when they gave it a historic absolute majority.

The Socialist Party, according to what its national secretary, Alexandra Leitão, told this newspaper, would only claim the right to govern in two situations: if they become the force with the most seats or if, in the event of a tie with AD, they obtain a greater number of votes. . However, Leitão considered that these were “very unlikely” scenarios.

The provisional scrutiny advanced by Public points out that Chega is the party with the most votes in Europe and AD, in the rest. The PS is second in Europe and third on the other continents. At the moment, the votes of 140,000 voters have been counted, with a very high percentage of votes annulled for failing to comply with the identification requirement. Participation from abroad is usually very low (barely 11% in previous elections), but on this occasion it has accompanied the massive participation that has been registered in Portugal, which on Sunday reached 66.23%.

Chega’s far-right, which received 1.1 million votes, could reach 50 seats in the Assembly of the Republic if it finally obtains two more. If the large electoral influx of emigrants continues the pattern of last Sunday, André Ventura’s party could continue to give surprises, since a large part of its support comes from former abstentionists.

Leitão also points out that the Portuguese community in Brazil, one of the largest, has sympathy for Bolsonarism, a current that will be oriented towards Chega. The harmony between André Ventura and Jair Bolsonaro was evident during the protest organized by Chega against the presence of President Lula in the Assembly of the Republic to commemorate the Carnation Revolution last year.

It is expected that the President of the Republic will entrust Luís Montenegro with the formation of the next Government. The PSD seems willing to negotiate measure by measure with the opposition. The litmus test will be the vote on the State Budget for 2025. The socialist Santos has already announced that they will vote against to make it clear that they are an alternative. Some PS leaders advocate facilitating governmental stability in Montenegro. Others, on the contrary, warn about the risk of weakening the organization if they become a crutch for the governability of the center-right. The PS will meet its national commission, the highest body between congresses, on Saturday to analyze the electoral scenario and define the strategy.

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