Portuguese Parliament in Lisbon
The centre-left PS (Socialist Party) had led a minority Government since 2015 under the leadership of former Lisbon Mayor António Costa, with the agreement of the CDU (alliance of the Communists and Greens) and the Left Bloc. Both the latter parties joined the centre-right, right-wing and others in voting down Costa’s budget. Both have suffered. Badly.
Although opinion polls suggested a resurgence from the centre-right PSD (Social Democratic Party), when the results were announced, they had actually lost three seats. The PS had gained nine - enough to claim a majority in the 230-seat assembly. At the news, PS supporters rejoiced; there was an impromptu rendition of Grândola. But the CDU lost half their seats, and the Left Bloc lost 14 of their 19, their worst result since 2002.
António Costa - a majority at the third attempt
The right-wing People’s Party fared yet worse: they were wiped out. So who else gained ground? The Liberal Initiative, which is libertarian rather than social liberal, gained seven seats. And Chega (which means “enough”) gained eleven, to become the third largest party in the Assembly. But Chega will not be getting a hearing from the PS.
As the BBC has reported, Chega’s leader André Ventura “hailed Sunday's result as marking the end of ‘soft’ opposition to the Socialists”. However, “[António] Costa said that if, as expected, Portugal's president now asks him to form a government, he will in future be open to dialogue with all political forces except Chega”. Why so?
André Ventura - big poll gains but ...
Because Chega, like Geert Wilders’ PVV, is, effectively, The Fash. Ventura has been described as “belligerent”; others would simply call him a gobshite. He’s a racist bigot. He’s called for “a new dictatorship”, for Portugal’s Roma population to be put into camps, has called in Parliament for a black Deputada to be “returned to her country of origin”, and has even called for women who have abortions to have their ovaries removed.
The Man Who Would Be Salazar has now added a demand for sex offenders to be chemically castrated to his wish-list. He’s also criticised Portugal’s Covid-19 vaccine rollout, despite the country double-jabbing a higher percentage of its population well ahead of its neighbours - and, whisper it quietly, well ahead of the UK.
... will probably end up powerless - like him
But Ventura will not be able to wield influence - other than sounding off - if Costa decides not to listen to him. And the PS majority will likely increase further: four seats are yet to be called, these being two for citizens living elsewhere in Europe, and two for citizens living in the rest of the world. In 2019, the PS and PSD each scored two of the four.
So after the impromptu rendition of Grândola has died down, Portugal has a bittersweet result: the centre-left now has a majority and can provide stable Government for the next four years, but the parties that precipitated the poll have to regroup after serious losses.
Also, the country now has its own Geert Wilders. The Fash never really went away.
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