Vote surge for Portuguese anti-immigration party

Chega! leader Andre Ventura campaigning for today’s Portuguese election

In today’s Portuguese general election the anti-immigration party Chega! (Enough!) advanced to third place after a huge advance from its 2019 vote.

With more than 99% of votes now counted, Chega! is on 7.1% and should have at least eleven MPs in the new Parliament. The party had only just been formed by the October 2019 election when it polled 1.3% and won a single parliamentary seat.

Portugal uses a proportional voting system very similar to that which the UK latterly had for European Parliamentary elections (and which allowed two BNP MEPs to be elected in 2009). This vote surge is one of the most rapid advances ever secured by an anti-immigration party.

For the time being, however, this progress will not fracture the Portuguese political system, because the main centre-left party seems to have won a clear victory over its conservative rivals, and will now have a choice of coalition partners: some combination of far left, green and centrist/liberal.

Moreover Chega! are reactionary populists rather than racial nationalists. Nevertheless, their success today is another welcome sign of voters across Europe being unafraid to express anti-immigration views that would until recently have been marginalised or suppressed. As with last year’s German elections, the defeat of mainstream conservatism could lead to serious questions being asked on the centre-right about their refusal even to consider coalitions with the anti-immigration right.

The far more radical racial nationalist party now known as Ergue-te (‘Rise Up’), which until mid-2020 was the ‘National Renovator Party’, polled only 0.1%. It has never achieved more than 0.5%, but this year seems to have been a record low, taking the party back to its first nationwide election effort in 2002.

A future issue of H&D will examine political trends in Iberia, taking account both of Chega! and of the recent advance of another essentially reactionary but anti-immigration party, Spain’s Vox.

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