Portugal Election Leans Right, Stunning Progressive Europeans

By Victor Winston, updated on March 11, 2024

In a turn of events that signals a seismic shift in the political landscape of Portugal nearly half a century after the Carnation Revolution, the far-right Chega party emerges as a pivotal figure.

The recent national elections in Portugal have left the country on the brink of a new political era, with the far right set to play a significant role in shaping its future governance, CNBC reported.

In an election that saw the political landscape significantly fragmented, the center-right Democratic Alliance coalition, despite winning, fell short of a clear majority. This development leaves the nation in a precarious state of uncertainty, with the Socialist Party and its leader, outgoing Prime Minister António Costa, also unable to command a majority.

The third-largest political force in the country now is the far-right Chega party, which has managed to secure at least 48 seats in the 230-seat parliament. This ascension is of particular note given the party's anti-establishment and far-right stance. Other political entities have expressed a reluctance to collaborate with Chega, raising concerns about Portugal's near-term governability.

Pedro Nuno Santos, the socialist leader, has stated, "I would not block Democratic Alliance leader Luís Montenegro’s bid to form a government, but that he also won’t help him pass bills."

The Far Right's Ascendancy in Portugal: A Reflection of Broader European Trends

Given the constitutional stipulation that prevents calling new elections within six months of the last, the earliest possible date for another election would be mid-November at the earliest. This adds another layer of complexity to the already tangled political scenario.

President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa is expected to play a crucial role in the coming days as he meets with leaders from all parties that have won seats in the parliament to discuss potential paths forward.

There is an expectation that Luís Montenegro will assume the role of Prime Minister next month. However, uncertainties swirl around whether his administration will adopt the 2024 budget previously passed under Costa's leadership or if he will seek the support of the far right, potentially triggering fresh elections.

Pedro Nuno Santos has indicated plans to solidify his foothold within the Socialist Party, aiming to present a robust alternative to the anticipated right-wing government.

Europe's Political Landscape and the Portuguese Elections

This shift in Portugal's political dynamics is seen as a blow to Europe's social democrats, leaving them in control of only a handful of EU member countries.

Almost fifty years ago, the Carnation Revolution ended the Estado Novo dictatorship, ushering in a new era of democracy in Portugal. Last year, Prime Minister António Costa stepped down amidst an influence-peddling investigation, though he managed to pass the 2024 budget before his resignation. The past months have seen the Socialist Party brace for a leadership transition from Costa to Santos.

The national elections on Sunday have left Portugal teetering on the brink of a new and unpredictable political era. President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa's upcoming discussions with party leaders will be closely watched, as will the moves of Luís Montenegro in the coming weeks.

Conclusion

Portugal's latest national elections signal a potential shift in the country's political future and reflect broader trends across Europe. The rise of the Chega party, the challenges in forming a new government, and the uncertainty surrounding the approval of the 2024 budget paint a complex picture of the days ahead. As the country stares down potential fresh elections and contemplates its next steps, the international community watches on, keenly aware of the precedent Portugal may set for the rest of Europe.

About Victor Winston

Victor is a freelance writer and researcher who focuses on national politics, geopolitics, and economics.

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