Portugal: Luis Montenegro's Government Mystery

Portugal: Luis Montenegro's Government Mystery

Luis Montenegro, the newly appointed Prime Minister of Portugal who chose Brussels for the first trip abroad of his term.
© European Parliament

In November 2023, António Costa, Portuguese Prime Minister since 2015, announced his resignation following a corruption scandal. On Sunday, March 10, Portuguese citizens went to the polls to renew their membership in the Assembly of the Republic, the unicameral chamber of the Portuguese Parliament.

New legislative elections were held in Portugal on Sunday, March 10, with increased participation. 66.2% of Portuguese went to the polls, while in the last elections 50% of voters abstained from voting. Once the votes were counted, no clear majority emerged.

Close results

For 8 years, the Socialists were in power, but during the early legislative elections, the Socialist Party lost to the center-right party. The Democratic Alliance won the elections with 30% of the votes, while the party of the outgoing Prime Minister received 29%, a difference of no more than 2,000 votes between the two parties. Following these results, the Democratic Alliance won 79 seats in the Council of the Republic, while the Socialist Party won 77 seats. The difference is small, but between 2022 and these new elections, the Socialist Party lost 40 seats in Parliament.

After these elections, neither party obtained an absolute majority, which requires 116 seats. In addition, the Liberal parties scored too low for the Democratic Alliance to form a coalition. For his part, Pedro Nuno Santos, who succeeds Antonio Costa at the head of the Socialist Party, announced that he would not prevent the formation of a minority government, but that his party would be in opposition.

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The absence of an absolute majority and the impossibility of forming a coalition threatens to cause instability within the country but also difficulties in passing laws or the budget. To facilitate some decisions, the President of the Republic may intervene and act as arbitrator. Despite this being a highly fragmented parliament, it cannot be dissolved within the next six months.

Big change and the rise of the extreme right

What is notable about this election is not the victory of the center-right party. But the end of the socialist era in a European country was the last country that did not have a right-wing government on the old continent. It is also important to note the progress made by the far-right party, which has doubled its points in two years. This big change is happening as Portugal prepares to commemorate the Carnation Revolution as well as the 50th anniversary of the end of the far-right Salazar dictatorship.

Far-right party Shiga!Means Enough ! In Portuguese, it is a nationalist party that speaks against corruption, immigration and minorities. The party won 48 seats in the legislative elections, an increase of 36 seats over the previous elections. The party leader offered to participate in the government in order to stabilize Portugal. Luis Montenegro, Prime Minister appointed by the President of the Republic and leader of the Democratic Alliance that won the elections, announced his categorical refusal to lead a coalition with… Shiga!.

Big challenge

After results Shiga!The National Rally party in France and the Alternative for Germany party in Germany congratulated Andre Ventura, leader of the far-right Portuguese party. In the face of the advance of the far right in Portugal, questions arise about the development of populism in Europe and its consequences for the European elections next June. If the Portuguese Assembly is not dissolved within the next six months, the Portuguese will be called to the polls again, like other Europeans, to elect their representatives to the European Parliament.

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About the Author: Germano Álvares

"Desbravador de cerveja apaixonado. Álcool alcoólico incurável. Geek de bacon. Viciado em web em geral."

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