Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Surge for far-right party in Portugal – as it happened

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Centre-right and centre-left neck and neck as counting nears completion

With 98% of results counted, the centre-right is holding only a very slim lead.

The Democratic Alliance is at 29.6%, the Socialist party at 28.7% and the far-right Chega at 18.1%.

Socialist party supporters react at the party’s electoral night headquarters in Lisbon. Photograph: Patrícia de Melo Moreira/AFP/Getty Images
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Key events

This blog is closing, our wrap of the night is here:

Summary of the evening

  • Portugal held a snap general election today.

  • The vote was triggered by the socialist prime minister, António Costa, resigning in November after an investigation was launched into alleged illegalities in his administration’s handling of large green investment projects.

  • The centre-right Democratic Alliance – an electoral platform made up of the large Social Democratic party (PSD) and two smaller conservative parties – took a lead in early exit polls.

  • As results came in, the gap between the centre-right alliance and the Socialist party narrowed, putting the centre-right and centre-left neck and neck, though the centre-right alliance maintained a small lead.

  • The far-right Chega party of André Ventura saw a huge surge, raising the prospect that it could play a key role in the formation of a new centre-right administration.

  • Figures from far-right parties in France, Spain, Germany and Hungary congratulated Chega on its performance.

  • Although the centre-right leader Luís Montenegro has explicitly ruled out any deals with Chega because of what he calls Ventura’s “often xenophobic, racist, populist and excessively demagogic” views, he is now likely to come under considerable pressure from his own party to do so to help the PSD into government.

  • A small portion of votes has yet to be counted and will be tallied over the next hours.

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Centre-right and centre-left neck and neck as counting nears completion

With 98% of results counted, the centre-right is holding only a very slim lead.

The Democratic Alliance is at 29.6%, the Socialist party at 28.7% and the far-right Chega at 18.1%.

Socialist party supporters react at the party’s electoral night headquarters in Lisbon. Photograph: Patrícia de Melo Moreira/AFP/Getty Images
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With close to all votes counted, here are the latest numbers:

Democratic Alliance: 29.8%

Socialist party: 28.7%

Chega: 18.2%

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Expresso reports that with 98% of the votes counted, the far-right Chega party has passed one million votes, electing 37 deputies thus far.

Portugal’s centre-right coalition on course for narrow victory as far-right makes gains

Sam Jones

Portugal’s centre-right is on course to narrowly defeat the incumbent Socialists but fall well short of a majority in a closely fought snap general election in which the far-right Chega party looks set to finish third, almost tripling its share of the vote and becoming a potential kingmaker.

With 95% of Sunday’s votes counted, the Democratic Alliance – an electoral platform made up of the large Social Democratic party (PSD) and two smaller conservative parties – was first with 30.8% of the vote, followed by the Socialist party on 28.4%.

Chega was in third place with 18.6%, raising the prospect that it could play a key role in the formation of a new centre-right administration. It is a huge surge for the populist, far-right party, which was founded five years ago by André Ventura, a former TV football pundit who was once a rising star in the PSD. The party broke through in the 2019 election, attracting 1.3% of the vote and gaining its first MP in Portugal’s 230-seat assembly. Three years later, it took 7.2% of the vote and won 12 seats.

Although the PSD’s leader, Luís Montenegro, has explicitly ruled out any deals with Chega because of what he calls Ventura’s “often xenophobic, racist, populist and excessively demagogic” views, he is now likely to come under considerable pressure from his own party to reach an agreement with the far-right party to help the PSD into government.

Even with the backing of the smaller centre-right Liberal Initiative – which was on course to finish fourth on around 4.5% – any potential minority government led by the Democratic Alliance would probably still have to rely on Chega’s support to pass legislation, leaving its stability in the hands of the far right.

Read the full story here.

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“Congratulations Andre Ventura for that great result,” wrote Santiago Abascal, the leader of Spain’s far-right Vox.

Congratulations for the far-right Chega have also arrived from Hungary.

Ádám Samu Balázs, head of the international secretariat for Viktor Orbán’s Fidesz party, called the results a “great breakthrough” for “our friend and ally” André Ventura.

“Without a left- or a right-wing majority that excludes Chega, the traditional patterns of alternation in government are no longer viable,” writes political scientist Vicente Valentim.

The Portuguese election marks the end of bipartism, as the far-right CH grows dramatically.

Without a left- or a right-wing majority that excludes CH, the traditional patterns of alternation in government are no longer viable.

I see two main possibilities going forward:

1/4

— Vicente Valentim (@ValentimVicente) March 10, 2024

Here are the latest figures, with counting still under way

Centre-right Democratic Alliance: 31%

Socialist party: 28.6%

Far-right Chega: 18.8%

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Jordan Bardella, president of France’s National Rally, has joined other voices across Europe’s far-right in congratulating Chega.

Les Portugais défendent leur identité et leur prospérité, et balayent les socialistes corrompus ! Félicitations à @AndreCVentura et à son jeune parti qui réalisent une très belle percée.

Amis de Chega, rendez-vous ensemble au Parlement européen au lendemain du 9 juin ! 🇫🇷🇵🇹 pic.twitter.com/ktF4dIdqeV

— Jordan Bardella (@J_Bardella) March 10, 2024

Harald Vilimsky, member of the European parliament for the Freedom Party of Austria, has also congratulated Chega.

Maximilian Krah, member of the European parliament for Alternative for Germany, said Chega is on the way to a “fantastic success”.

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Valérie Hayer, president of Renew Europe, has congratulated the small Liberal Initiative party.

Félicitations à @LiberalPT qui confirme, trois ans après ses premières élections, son ancrage durable dans la vie politique du Portugal.

Plein soutien à nos amis portugais pour les élections européennes de juin !

— Valérie Hayer (@ValerieHayer) March 10, 2024

Where does the counting stand?

It’s about 9:30pm local time.

Based on votes counted thus far, the centre-right Democratic Alliance is at 31.4%.

The Socialist party is at 28.7%, and the far-right Chega is at 19.1%.

Thank you to the many readers who shared their thoughts.

Derek, a British citizen living in Estoril, says: “I love Portugal but it has real problems…Too many young people leave so we need to make Portugal more attractive so that they stay! So a new start is needed whether from the right or the left.”

One Portuguese reader writes in: “André Ventura and the far-right being elevated into a kingmaker position like this is an absolute disaster, and is a dire sign regarding the future of the country.”

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