Portugal’s election tilts right, governance outcome uncertain

In Portugal’s recent national elections, the electorate markedly shifted rightward, leaving the outcome of governance uncertain as the leading parties, the Socialist Party and the Democratic Alliance, nearly tied with 99% of ballots counted. This unexpected closeness contradicted predictions of a decisive win for the Democratic Alliance.

With almost all votes tallied, the Socialists secured 75 seats, and the Democratic Alliance 77, while the far-right Chega party surged to 46 seats, significantly outperforming expectations based on prior polls and their previous seat count of 12.

Both major parties had previously expressed intentions to exclude Chega from any government formation. However, the narrow margin between the Socialist and Democratic Alliances complicates these pledges, especially as former Prime Minister Antonio Costa indicated the final outcome might hinge on overseas votes, potentially leading to a tie between the major parties.

The Democratic Alliance claimed an early victory, signaling a perceived loss for the Socialist Party. The election, prompted by the resignation of Socialist Prime Minister Antonio Costa amid corruption investigations within his party, reflects a dramatic political landscape shift since Costa’s historic majority win just two years prior.

Chega, a far-right party established in 2019 and led by the controversial Andre Ventura, capitalized on corruption scandals affecting both major parties and campaigned on a platform of “cleaning” Portugal. Ventura claimed the election results signaled the end of Portugal’s bipartisan system, advocating for a right-wing government that includes Chega.

The election centered on economic issues, with many Portuguese grappling with low wages and high living costs. Former Prime Minister Costa suggested the votes for Chega might reflect a protest against inflation and corruption, questioning the longevity of such support within Portugal’s political system.–Web Desk