The center-right narrowly wins the elections in Portugal and the ultras demand to enter the Government |

The Portuguese have turned to the right in the early elections held this Sunday in Portugal, although the victory of the conservative Democratic Alliance (AD) coalition was so close that the uncertainty lasted until around one in the morning. The final count will not be known for a few days. With 99% counted, AD had 79 deputies compared to 77 for the socialists, but four seats have yet to be assigned, which are chosen in the emigrants’ constituencies and which will not be known for a few weeks.

The fragmentation of the Assembly of the Republic will remain the same, with the presence of eight formations (three on the right and five on the left), although this time with a clear preponderance of the right-wing bloc. The country’s turn, two years after granting an absolute majority to the PS, has been forceful and mainly punishes the party where the current political crisis has been brewing due to the resignation of its prime minister, António Costa, last November. Participation reached 66.23%, an unusually high figure that was not reached in any of the five previous electoral events.

If the night began with some polls that predicted a clear victory for the change project of Luís Montenegro, at the head of the AD, the progress of the scrutiny showed a greater socialist resistance than anticipated. Although the candidacy of Pedro Nuno Santos, who succeeded Costa in the leadership of the party, has experienced a significant setback compared to 2022, when they achieved a historic absolute majority with 120 deputies. Despite the small distance in votes (AD led the PS by 2,000 votes with 99% of the count), Pedro Nuno Santos recognized his defeat and settled any speculation about his future. “The PS will be the opposition and will not leave that leadership to Chega,” warned the socialist leader. “Our journey begins today to win back the disaffected,” he said. In his intervention he assured that he will not hinder the formation of Luís Montenegro’s government, but he also warned that he will not be “the support” of the conservative executive.

The socialist leader, Pedro Nuno Santos, during the speech in which he acknowledged his defeat in Lisbon.ANTONIO PEDRO SANTOS (EFE)

Overall, the result of the early elections held this Sunday raised great uncertainty about the governability of the country, since AD ​​would only gain an absolute majority with Chega, the resounding winner of the night. The advance of André Ventura’s far-right party was unappealable and exceeded one million votes. Its presence in Parliament, with 99% of the count, went from 12 to 48 deputies, it achieved representation in all the districts of the country, except Bragança, in the north, and it became the most voted in the Algarve, where the extreme The right won the two seats that the socialists lost. Ventura, who consolidates his position as a third parliamentary force, was ecstatic about “the end of the two-party system.” Upon his arrival at the headquarters where he celebrated his victory, he assured that the results showed that the Portuguese want a Government of AD and Chega. An idea that he reiterated in his celebration speech: “The people said that the right has to govern and our mandate is to govern Portugal for the next four years.” Ventura interpreted the results as “a reckoning” against the “left-wing kidnapping” of institutions and promised to immediately begin “to liberate Portugal from the extreme left” and “from gender ideology.”

André Ventura celebrates his breakthrough in Sunday's elections in Lisbon.
André Ventura celebrates his breakthrough in Sunday’s elections in Lisbon.PEDRO_ROCHA (REUTERS)

Montenegro’s response would arrive after one o’clock. Faced with insistent questions from the press, the AD leader made it clear that he will not open the door of the Government to the extreme right. “Naturally, I will keep my word,” he said. “It would be a tremendous evil towards me, towards my party and towards democracy if I did not comply,” he added. Montenegro also hoped that “Socialist Party and Chega will not build a negative alliance” against the future conservative government. “What is expected of the PS is not that they adhere to our proposals, but that they respect what the people have chosen,” he indicated. Montenegro, which will convey its availability to form a Government to the President of the Republic, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, who will now begin the round of consultations with all parties, admitted that a “great challenge” awaits it that requires “a lot of capacity for dialogue on my part.” part”. “In the same way that we were able to add in this candidacy, we are going to add in the Government,” he stressed.

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For these elections, Montenegro decided to recover a historic coalition, the Democratic Alliance, with which its party won elections for the first time after the end of the dictatorship. Along with the Social Democratic Party (PSD, center-right), the coalition includes the Democratic and Social Center-Popular Party (CDS-PP, conservative right) and the Popular Monarchist Party (PPM), two formations that did not have a presence in the Assembly of the Republic. The monarchists are an anecdotal force, although the CDS-PP is a historical party that participated in the drafting of the Portuguese Constitution. Sunday’s results mean the return of the CDS to the Chamber and, furthermore, its entry into the Government.

In his speech, Montenegro did not clarify whether he would invite representatives of the Liberal Initiative (IL) to participate in his future cabinet, a group with an ultra-liberal vision in the economy and public policies. Its leader, Rui Rocha, and Montenegro were photographed during a lunch a few months ago to express their willingness to reach post-election agreements. The Liberals will have eight seats, the same as in the last legislature.

Chega’s rapid growth

Sunday’s result confirms Chega as a political party with rapid growth in just five years. From the socialist ranks it was regretted that the advance of the extreme right occurs when the 50 years of the Carnation Revolution are going to be celebrated, which ended the dictatorship in Portugal in 1974. “The Socialist Party must make a strong opposition and prepare to face what is coming, which is expected to not be good for the Portuguese,” stressed Minister Ana Catarina Mendes. “It is the socialists who must be vigilant and not let democracy fall,” she added.

António Costa, who had stated during the campaign that the extreme right would not grow as much as the polls predicted, pointed out this Sunday that the reasons for Chega’s rise will have to be analyzed. “We have to try to understand how much is structural and how much could result from elections held in an atypical situation, after an inflation crisis and a huge rise in interest rates. We have to see how much it responds to a fundamental change in Portuguese society and how much it is a protest vote,” he indicated.

In the left bloc, the only joy was for Livre, who went from one to four deputies and will be able to form a parliamentary group. The Left Bloc retained the five seats without the renewal in leadership with the economist Mariana Mortágua benefiting it at the polls, while the Portuguese Communist Party, which was running for the first time with Paulo Raimundo, lost two of the six deputies that he had, some in symbolic fiefdoms of the Alentejo, which have gone into the hands of Chega.

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