Portugal’s extreme right and independent left gain ground in elections

 In Events, News

Despite Portugal’s sitting president Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa winning a comfortable majority in Sunday’s presidential elections, both the extreme right and independent left gained ground in Portugal’s electoral landscape on anti-corruption tickets.

As expected, university academic and constitutional law expert Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa has been reelected for a second term in office with 60.70% of the votes or 2,533,799 votes. The abstention rate was between 56-60%.
However, in a striking break with tradition, Portugal’s mostly agricultural and wine-making region of the Alentejo, which traditionally has always voted for the far-left Bloco Esquerda or Communist parties, instead voted for a far-right populist candidate from a relatively new political party called Chega (Enough) and its young and charismatic leader André Ventura who came in third place in the elections overall with 11.90% of the votes (496,653).
In second place with 541,345 votes comes the independent candidate and anti-corruption and anti money-laundering battle axe Ana Gomes (12.97%) who ran on a pro-European ticket and who was also supported by two minor parties PAN, an environmental and animal rights party, and Livre, a liberal socialist party that also stands for the environment.
The Portuguese far left lost even more ground in these elections than previous ones with its candidate João Ferreira, supported by the Portuguese Communist Party with 4.32% (180,473) in fourth place, while Marisa Matias, with the support of the left-wing Bloco Esquerda came in fifth with 3.95% (164,731 votes).
The significance of this election is not so much in who won, a popular candidate widely seen as a unifying figure in Portuguese central ground politics, but who saw their votes eroded which were bot the centre-right PSD party and centre left governing PS party.
It means that at the next legislative general elections, the PSD may have to horse trade with Chega, a party whose leader on election night slammed the “minorities” in Portuguese society that were “dragging the country down” and infamous on his stance against the gipsy community in Portugal.
In his election victory speech, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa said the country’s main focus had to be the coronavirus pandemic with 742 patients in intensive care in Portugal’s hospitals with 275 deaths registered on the 24 hours prior to Sunday 24 January. Portugal currently is leading the way Internationally in terms of infections per 100,000 heads of population.
Making two clear messages, the president elect said that by reinforcing their votes the electorate wanted “more and better” in terms of closeness the people, economic, political and social convergence, stability, in building bridges and thoroughness in social justice and, with a matter of urgency, the management of the pandemic.
The second was to persuade lawmakers to consider a review before the next elections of what needed to be revised in order to overturn objections to postal votes which would only serve to prejudice the Portuguese community overseas.
The president said that the elections showed “quite clearly what the Portuguese want and don’t want for the next five years”.
“The Portuguese do not want a never-ending pandemic, an economic crisis without an end in sight, poverty getting worse, a further lag behind other societies, particularly European, a political system that is slow when it comes to reading change, a radicalism and extremism in people, their attitudes and in social and political life.”
Instead, the voting public want a pandemic that is controlled as fast as possible, a recovery in employment, incomes, growth, investment, exports, and in the internal market. An effective future for micro, small and medium companies, a Portuguese presidency of the European Union which strengthens Portugal’s role in Europe and the World.
“European funds that are well managed in terms of transparency and effectiveness, a reconstruction that goes beyond mere recovery, in qualification, climate and environment, in energy, digital, but also on other areas of the economy and in justice, the fight against corruption, in reforming the State, and in defence and security,” said Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa.