In the presidential elections held in Portugal on January 24, Sunday, incumbent president Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa from the center-right Social Democratic Party (PSD) won with an overwhelming majority, securing 60% of the votes polled. Socialist Party (PS)-backed candidate Ana Gomes managed to reach a far second with 13% of the votes. Far-right Chega (CH) candidate Andre Ventira finished in third place by securing around 12% votes. Portuguese Communist Party (PCP) candidate Joao Ferreira and the Left Bloc (BE) candidate Marisa Matias secured 4.3% and 3.95% of the votes, respectively. Only 39.49% of the total electorate voted in the elections amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
All the opinion polls had predicted the re-election of the president in the first round itself with over 50% of the votes. But the rise of CH with around 12% votes, close to the vote share of the PS which is leading the incumbent Portuguese government headed by Antonio Costa, has created political tremors.
In the elections to the 230-seat Portuguese parliament held in October 2019, the PS won 106 seats and 36.7% of the votes, while the PSD ended up with 77 seats and 27.9% votes. CH won only one seat with 1.3% of the votes. BE and the Communist-Greens coalition (CDU) won 19 and 12 seats, respectively.
While far right parties such as Matteo Salvini’s League in Italy, the Vox party in Spain, and Marine Le Pen’s National Rally in France, have made some recent advances, Portugal had stayed relatively away from far-right extremism. The rise of CH into the mainstream during this election has sent a warning signal and caused alarm among progressive sections in the country.
Regarding the results, PS president Carlos César appreciated the people’s support in defeating right-wing extremism in the country. Meanwhile, PCP general secretary Jerónimo de Sousa said, “the now re-elected President of the Republic will exercise a second term with an alignment now even more explicit with the objectives, interests and agenda of the right, which has never ceased to be present in important decisions adopted in the performance of their duties.”