Right turn in Portugal. After eight years of government by the socialist António Costa, the conservative Democratic Alliance (AD) coalition, led by Luís Montenegro, has won with a narrow advantage the close legislative elections held this Sunday with 29.81% of the votes with more than 98 % scrutinized, without yet knowing the total number of seats it has achieved.

In second place is the Socialist Party (PS), with Pedro Nuno Santos at the head, which garners 28.71% of the votes, a result that represents a blow with respect to the absolute majority obtained with 41.37% of the votes. the votes two years ago.

Chega’s extreme right is consolidating itself as the third force with 18.22% of the votes, a percentage that almost triples that achieved in 2022. Fourth place goes to the right-wing Liberal Initiative party, with 4.91%, closely followed closely to the left of Bloco, with a voting percentage of 4.38%, according to data from the Ministry of Internal Administration (of the Interior). Next are the alliance of communists and environmentalists CDU and the leftist green Livre, with around 3% each.

The count paints an uncertain scenario without absolute majorities (116 deputies), so the pacts will be essential to form a government. While the sum of left-wing parties does not seem enough, the extreme right could have a key role as the third most voted force, but the leader of the conservative coalition has actively and passively ruled out a possible agreement with Chega, ensuring that opinions and policies of its leader, André Ventura, are “often xenophobic, racist, populist and excessively demagogic.” The socialist candidate, for his part, even admitted that he would allow a conservative minority government to act as a firewall against the extreme right.

It also remains to be seen how the conservatives would ensure the stability of the legislature. It is not certain that, if the Democratic Alliance decides to move forward with a minority government, Chega will provide the necessary support to approve the budgets and guarantee the continuity of a center-right government.

The Portuguese neighbor has gone to the polls in an early election forced by the resignation of Prime Minister Costa last November following an investigation into alleged irregularities in energy businesses and a data center, although there is no formal accusation against him. The campaign has been dominated precisely by corruption and governance, with the polls showing a growth of the extreme right at a time when the country is preparing to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Carnation Revolution that ended the Salazar dictatorship.

Conservatives and socialists have arrived at the meeting evenly matched, but the latest polls pointed to a victory for the Democratic Alliance, led by the conservative Social Democratic Party (PSD). However, the uncertainty about the results has been total, mainly due to the margin of error in the surveys and the large percentage of undecided people. In the elections, which concluded at 8:00 p.m. local time with the closing of the polling stations in the Azores archipelago, the 230 seats in the Assembly of the Republic are at stake. By mid-afternoon, participation was 51.96%, an increase of more than six points compared to the last elections, two years ago.

With the results in hand, the right could return to power after eight years in opposition. Led by Costa, the socialists have governed since they evicted the conservatives from power in 2015 with an agreement between leftist forces, and then won the 2019 and 2022 elections, the year in which they surprised and won with an absolute majority after present themselves as the option to stop the extreme right.

Costa’s resignation brought Montenegro back to life after his critics did not predict political life beyond the European elections in June 2024. Former parliamentary leader of Passos Coelho, he has no government experience. He succeeded Rui Rio as head of the PSD after his defeat in the 2022 elections. In these elections he has run in coalition with the conservative Christian Democratic Party (CDS) and the irrelevant Popular Monarchist Party (PPM).

In the opinion of Vicente Valentim, political scientist and researcher at the University of Oxford, the Portuguese elections mark the end of the two-party system, since Chega’s extreme right “grows spectacularly.” “Without a majority on the left or right that excludes Chega, the traditional patterns of alternation in government are no longer viable,” he writes on X (formerly Twitter). The expert sees two great possibilities for the future: “The first, the majority parties are willing to negotiate between blocs (that is, left and right) and alternation becomes possible by excluding the extreme right. Alternatively, the two blocs crystallize and polarize, so that the country has coalitions of the great left or the great right (the latter includes the extreme right).”

“The actions of the center-left in the coming months are crucial to deciding which path is taken. If they allow a center-right minority government, they press for the first route. If they don’t, they push for the second one,” he continues. “I think this is a decisive moment for the country. While both options are possible at this time, whichever is chosen now is likely to become fixed, making it more difficult to deviate from it in the future.”

Source: www.eldiario.es

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