Sunday, June 9, 2024

EUROPEAN ELECTION RESULTS


 

The results of the four-day EU Parliamentary elections across all 27 member states show an overall majority for the centrist parties, despite the predicted surge from the far-right groups. 

The 720 seats in parliament for the next five years will primarily consist of centre-right candidates with 186 seats, and an alliance of socialists and democrats holding 137.

The parliament will be fragmented in that the centrists do not always agree on all matters, and the far-right populists are very much divided in opinions between different countries.

It was a fair election with about 630 million eligible voters. The number of candidates was allocated according to each country’s population.

Portugal has elected its 21 parliamentarians to serve in Brussels The socialist group did best with eight seats, and the centre-right have seven.  The Left , Renew Europe, and the Identify and Democracy groups each have two. Portugal’s far-right missed out altogether. This has been the ninth EU election held in Portugal

Among the exit poll highlights:

The European People’s Party won 186 seats, a gain of 10 over the last parliament.

Socialist groups won 133, down six.

Renew Europe liberals, won 82, down 20.

ECR conservatives and reformists, won 70 seats, up one.

The far-right did especially well in Italy where Prime Minister Giorgie Meloni won a strong majority that boosts her leadership both at home and in Europe.

Marine Le Pen’s National Rally in France produced a historic win. It has caused President Emmanuel Macron to suddenly and surprisingly dissolve the French parliament and call a snap national election.

In Poland, Prime Minister Donald Tusk has said his country is a beacon of hope for Europe as his centrist pro-Europe Civic Coalition did well in the EU elections.

In Spain, the Socialist Workers Party is vying for first place with the conservative People’s Party. The hard-right is in third place.

 

This summary has been corrected since the exit polls on Sunday night

Wednesday, June 5, 2024

CUTTING NON-EU IMMIGRATION



Portugal’s new government has announced a plan to restrict immigration for non-European Union citizens. Until now, under previous Socialist administrations, the arrangements have been very open.

The announcement came just days before the European Union elections in which immigration will be one of the hottest topics across all 27-member states.

Portugal’s Prime Minister Luis Montenegro aims to put an end to a liberal arrangement whereby immigrants could move into Portugal without an employment contract and only request a residency permit after a year of social security payments. The change will mean that non-EU citizens will no longer be allowed to “abuse” the system. They will need an employment contract to stay here.

The foreign population in Portugal has doubled in the last five years. A million or so people from abroad – roughly a tenth of Portugal’s total population – are now living in this country. Last year, 189,000 immigrants were legally accepted. Many Asian immigrants have found jobs on farms or in restaurants. Around 400,000 immigrant applications are currently pending, according to Montenegro.

“We need people in Portugal willing to help us build a fairer and more prosperous society,” he said this week. “But we cannot go to the other extreme and have wide-open doors.”

Entry of qualified professionals, students, people from Portuguese-speaking countries, and people seeking family reunions will be prioritised.

The move by Montenegro’s centre-right government is still too weak, according to the far-right Chega (Enough) party. Its founder and leader, Andre Ventura, has expressed strong opposition to the presence of non-EU immigrants, particularly from Islamic countries. Similar attitudes are shared by far-right parties across the continent, especially in Germany, where immigrants used to be welcomed before the height of the immigration crisis triggered by Syria’s civil war in 2015, and Italy, which has become the favoured entry point for immigrants illegally crossing the Mediterranean Sea.

The EU has already approved a pact that will see hardened borders and shared responsibilities among member states. EU economy ministers officially signed the landmark Migration and Asylum pact last month. It ended eight years of work to rewrite the rule book for people entering Europe without authorisation. The majority of members backed the 10 pieces of legislation in the agreement. Hungary and Poland opposed it as they have long rejected the idea that all European countries should take in a share of arriving immigrants.

The new rules will only come into effect in 2026. They lay out the process for screening people to establish whether they qualify for some kind of asylum protection, or should be deported.

 

We will up-date readers about the elections over the weekend.


Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Tightening ties within Europe



Portuguese prime minister and Ukraine president in Lisbon

 

With campaigning at its height  for the European Parliamentary elections, the ferocity of Russian attacks on Ukraine has intensified, and allied intelligence officials are now tracking an increase in Russian low-level sabotage operations in Europe.

The Russian operations could involve fake polls and propaganda fraud. The sabotaging is part of an effort to undermine support for Ukraine, according to intelligence sources. The operations have also involved arson or attempted arson attacks on a wide range of targets, including a warehouse in England, a paint factory in Poland, homes in Latvia, and an IKEA store in Lithuania. So far, no such damage has been reported in Portugal.

Portugal’s Prime Minister, Luis Montenegro, has been  to Berlin for talks with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz. It was a very cordial meeting.

“We’re both committed to making Portuguese-German relations more intense,” said Mr Montenegro.

“We stand close to many of the challenges posed to Europe,” he said, and went on to praise the support Germany has been giving to Ukraine to defend itself against the Russian invasion.

He added that the Portuguese government was working to reach the “audacious” 2% budget target for defence expenditure as agreed with NATO. “Our commitment to NATO is full. From this perspective, we understand that words alone are not enough. This commitment must be materialised in action.”

The German chancellor said that Portugal had been “a reliable ally” and “a good friend for the European Union.” At the end of the meeting it was announced that there would be boosts to the cultural, economic, and political  relations between the two countries.

Ukraine’s President, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, paid a six-hour working visit to Portugal on Tuesday. It was described as “part of a shared intention to deepen the excellent relations between the two states, with a particular focus on strengthening cooperation in the field of security and defence.” Advance voting for the European Parliamentary elections has just begun (Wednesday May 29). Voting at polling stations will take place between June 6 and 9. Polling stations in Portugal will be open on the last day, the 9th. The overall turnout for the last EU parliamentary election in 2019 was low: 40.8%. A survey published earlier this year predicted the turnout this time would be significantly higher.

Young people, including first time voters, are being strongly urged to take part. The total number of people casting their ballots in the 27 member states for 720 parliamentary seats could be in excess of 373 million.

More publicity than ever is being given to the prospects of the far-right winning a majority of seats in this election. The populist parties have strong support in Austria, Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Italy, Poland, and Portugal. However, the far-right remains divided, which may mean relative weakness in Strasbourg and Brussels. The centrists may well prevail.

As we reported recently, to be eligible to vote in Portugal, you need to be over the age of 18 and fit into one of four categories:

+  Portuguese citizens registered on the electoral roll of the national territory.

+  Portuguese citizens residing abroad who have not chosen to vote in another EU country.

+  Citizens of other EU countries registered in Portugal who choose to vote for Portuguese members of the European Parliament.

+  Brazilian citizens with a citizen’s card or identity card with equal political rights.

Polling stations will be in municipal council offices or at locations posted on notices in local council offices on voting day.

Friday, May 24, 2024

EUROPEAN ELECTIONS IN JUNE : WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW



Ursula von der Leyen


The incumber of centrist parties are expected to keep control of the European Union parliament in the June6-9 elections despite a big swing to the far-right.

Ursula von der Leyen, the born-in-Brussels EU commissioner, has declared: “I am ready to keep serving our people and our continent with the passion, confidence and experience needed in these challenging times. I want to build a majority for a strong Europe, because we don’t have the luxury to be weak in the world. Let’s do it together. Let’s stand for democracy prosperity, and security. Let’s fight for our Europe.”

The elections will take place June 6-9 to choose 720 representatives for the parliament in Strasbourg. In Portugal, the election will be on June 9 to choose 21 parliamentarians. Because of their larger populations, eight of the 28 EU countries have more seats in the assembly. Germany tops the list with 96 seats. France has 81.The three smallest nations have only six each.

All of Portugal’s candidates have already been presented by their political parties or coalitions. They were required to be Portuguese citizens, Brazilians with an equal status of political rights, or citizens of other EU countries registered in Portugal. The full list is published (in Portuguese) on the website of the General Secretariat of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. It will also be published on June 9 in notices outside and inside the polling stations.

To be eligible to vote you need to be over the age of 18 and fit into one of four categories:

+  Portuguese citizens registered on the electoral roll of the national territory.

+  Portuguese citizens residing abroad who have not chosen to vote in another EU country.

+  Citizens of other EU countries registered in Portugal who choose to vote for Portuguese members of the European Parliament.

+  Brazilian citizens with a citizen’s card or identity card with equal political rights.

 Polling stations will be in municipal council offices or at locations posted on notices in local council offices on voting day.

The biggest change within the EU in the coming elections is a strong shift to far-right populist parties. This will of course be to the detriment of the so-called “super grand coalition” of three centrist groups. A populist coalition of Christian Democrats, conservatives and radical right MEPs might even emerge for the first time as a majority.

The far-right Chega (Enough) party did remarkably well in finishing third in this year’s general election in Portugal .Other far-right parties are doing much better in other EU countries. The shift could be so significant that it impacts  the ability of the European Commissions and Council to make foreign policy decisions, including implementing the next phase of the European Green Deal.

Of huge importance over the next five years of the next EU Parliament’s rule will be maintaining the continent’s defence security in view of the war in Ukraine and uncertainty over the continuing allegiance of the United States.

Make no mistake, these are massively important election coming up.

 

Friday, May 17, 2024

Portugal standing by Ukraine


Peaceful Portugal remains a firm ally of Ukraine, which is now under increasing bombardments, with fears of eventual defeat by Russia

Russia’s advances have intensified so much recently that there are worsening worries in the Western world about Ukraine’s prospects for survival as a sovereign nation.

President Vladimir Putin has been visiting his “friend” Chairman Xi Jinping in China while Russia’s latest electronic warfare techniques have been weakening Ukraine’s air defences provided by the United States and NATO.

Portugal has long been an adherent member of both the European Union and NATO. There has always been a basic agreement on foreign policy between the two main political parties, the centre-right Democratic Alliance and the centre-left Socialist Party, both of which have been running the country alternatively since soon after the Carnation Revolution in 1975.

The foreign policy consensus is as strong as ever, grounded on its European integration alongside its trans-Atlantic solidarity. “Portugal’s European integration is the cornerstone of democratic consolidation, and democracy is the source of legitimacy for Portugal’s accession to the EU,” said Nuno Severiano  Texeira , director of the Portuguese Institute of Foreign Relations, and former defence minister between 2005 and 2009. Only the Communists with little says  in the Portuguese Assembly regard what is going on in Ukraine as merely a “civil war.”

Domestic issues prevail, and so Portugal has only been able to help Ukraine’s war effort financially in a modest way. In terms of military assistance, Portugal has only allocated €70 million. However, Portuga’s military assistance has been noticeable in NATO front-line countries, particularly Romania and the Baltic states

While located on the far west of continental Europe, Portugal is well aware of concerns that should Russia take over Ukraine its aggression may move westward. This could be encouraged should the United States downgrade its economic and military assistance to Ukraine, or no longer be relied upon to support NATO. These are strong  possibilities if Donald Trump is returned to the White House in November’s presidential election

That aside, Daniel Marcos, professor at the Faculty of Human and Social Sciences at the new university in Lisbon, is  quoted by Joao Ruela Ribeiro in the “Eastern Europe bi-monthly magazine as saying: “Since the beginning of the Russian aggression , Portugal, following the tradition of transatlantic and European solidarity, has been on Ukraine’s side. First of all by condemning the external aggression which threatened Ukraine’s sovereignty , and secondly by giving its allies who border Russia  assurances that Portugal will be as assertive as possible regarding the security of NATO and EU territory.”

The Eastern European, which is widely read in central as well as eastern EU countries, recognises Portugal’s respect for Ukraine’s war efforts.  It notes that Ukraine is a matter of concern within Portuguese society in general, not only among politicians, but even more so than some other EU countries.

Last July, the president of Ukraine and the prime minister of Portugal, adopted a joint declaration reiterating their “unequivocal condemnation of Russia’s war “


Thursday, May 16, 2024

Info from UK Embassy in Lisbon

 



The UK Department of Health and Social Care is strongly advising UK nationals in Portugal who hold an S1 and receive UK health care cover, to confirm their contact details with the NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA). This will ensure that DHSC can provide all S1 holders with important information regarding their coverage and entitlements. The S1 is the form issued by the UK to state pensioners and other groups such as posted workers, when they need to register for healthcare in Portugal.

 

The request comes as DHSC will be undertaking a programme later this year to check whether there have been changes to the personal circumstances of S1 holders. This will ensure that people who are entitled to healthcare and UK benefits continue to receive them but also that DHSC does not keep paying for cover that is no longer necessary, such as when an S1 holder moves back to the UK. On average, this costs the UK taxpayer approximately £5,300 a year. A UK-insured state pensioner living in Portugal will therefore need to ensure they inform the NHSBSA if their circumstances have changed. 

A spokesperson for the Department stated:

 

“S1 holders need to contact the NHS Business Services Authority to confirm their contact details are up-to-date to ensure they don’t face any issues with their health cover and entitlements should we need to contact them.”

 

The message is directed at all S1 holders, who are mainly state pensioners living in Portugal but also include other groups such as posted workers, who register the S1 form with the Portuguese authorities, once they qualify and are resident in the country.

 

All S1 holders should contact NHSBSA and confirm their contact details on s1applications@nhsbsa.nhs.uk. Alternatively they can be contacted by post at Overseas Healthcare Services, NHSBSA, Bridge House, 152 Pilgrim Street, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 6SN, UK. Remember to include your full name and date of birth in any correspondence.

 

Tuesday, May 14, 2024

FATIMA – the fully story

 


Pilgrims from around the world are currently visiting the Sanctuary of Fatima in Portugal for the 106th anniversary of the first of six reported sightings of apparitions of the Virgin Mary.

You can obtain a completely unbiased account of the complex story of Fatima here: https://www.amazon.com/F%C3%A1tima-Phenomenon-Divine-Grace-Delusion-ebook/dp/B007XC7Q32

Friday, May 10, 2024

A RECORD HOT SUMMER LIKELY



Portugal is bracing itself for possibly the hottest summer ever, while globally, last month was the hottest April on record.  

According to Copernicus, the European Union’s climate monitoring service, April marked the continuation of an unprecedented 11-month streak of record-breaking conditions. Despite what the scientists say, some people argue that extreme weather conditions existed long before humans inhabited the Earth, so they feel there is no need to worry. Many older people tend to ignore the importance of reaching a “net zero” emission balance, and the deadline year of 2030 never mind 2050. They leave this concern to the young who will still be around.

Whether the planet was extremely hot or cold many thousands of years ago is irrelevant to the current concerns about environmental destruction caused by man-made greenhouse gas emissions threatening Portugal and elsewhere this summer

The notion that countries must just socially and economically adapt to extreme climate change is ridiculous. Brazil is one of the countries most affected recently, with major floods engulfing entire cities.

Portugal is as well prepared as possible for more wildfires, droughts and floods, as well as rising sea levels.

Portugal  has achieved a 60% renewable share in electricity generation. It aims to achieve an 80% share within the next two years. This is achievable because Portugal has abandoned the use of coal and is relying increasingly on hydro, wind and solar sources. 

Overall, Portugal has strong policies and targets in place. Although it is doing comparatively well in Europe, critics point out a number of extra measures the government could be taking. Experts want to see more support for low-income households, a faster phase-out of fossil fuel subsidies and improvements in the transport sector.

The major greenhouse gas emitting countries are still not doing nearly enough to address extreme climate challenges; The United States is focused on its November presidential election and providing support for the war in the Middle East. Russia is concentrating on its war in Ukraine. India has become a hub for ‘laundering’ Russian oil.and selling it to the West, thus helping overcome US and European sanctions against Russia. China is steeped in its own conflicts, and its desire to be the number one country in the world. 

All of the superpowers are failing to solve the existential global warming crisis they have largely created.

 

Friday, May 3, 2024

LAND GRABBING IN THE ALGARVE

 

Orla Dargan

An Irish woman is still traumatised and living in hiding because of aggressive intrusions and violent threats, arising from a land dispute – and is just one example of what is being described as criminal land grabbing activities.   

Orla Dargan,65, is daughter of a CEO/chairman of the international Aer Lingus airline, and chairman of CRH plc, the largest global manufacturer and distributor of construction materials. After retiring as a city investment banker in London, Ms Dargan bought a home in the Algarve in 2016 for €180,000, and planned a rebuilding programme costing €600,000. However, her happy life in the small, tranquil town of Santa Barbara de Nexe in the central Algarve was to turn into a nightmare.

On returning from a visit to Ireland in 2021, Ms Dargan found her boundary fence had been broken. Diggers had ploughed in, and waste water had been poured onto her property. A land dispute eventually went to a Faro court where a judge ruled that Ms Dargan rightfully owned her property and there should be no illegal incursions. Ms Dargan  continued to do her best to cope with the aggressive side of the dispute, but ended up fleeing and moving from place to place in Portugal and Spain, hiding in fear of her life.

“Everyone, including my lawyer, still tells me I am at risk, but the authorities in Portugal, including the police, have not been doing anything about it.” As a possible solution to protect her property, she has now invited a number of British army veterans to live there.

Ms Dargan’s is not alone in suffering this sort of intimidation in the Algarve, according to a specialist land investigator, David Mapley, he describes land grabbing, as “an economic war being conducted due to the relative impoverishment of the Portuguese versus the "wealthy" foreigners arriving and driving up local property prices.”

Mr Mapley, who mostly deals with property crimes, says that “too often unsuspecting foreigners are rendered offside in a catastrophic way, spending years, money and stress in order to restore a property status quo.”

This is hardly the happy retirement most people dream of, he says, adding: “The glacial judicial system, indifference of the police, and ineptitude and corruptibility of lawyers, all well recognised by Portuguese, result in a one-sided battle for ‘AlGrab’, where miscreants can pretty much get away with what they want.

“As a result, misrepresentation, fraud, land boundary disputes, land and home theft, or neighbourly intimidation are commonplace.”

Monday, April 29, 2024

FATIMA ANNIVERSAY, MAY 13


paperback


May 13 marks another anniversary of the first of six reported apparitions of the Blessed Mary near the village of Fatima in central Portugal in 2017.

If you would like to read a fully researched and  unbiased account of one of the most extraordinary chapters in Portugal’s history, get a copy of The Fatima Phenomenon  -Devine Grace, Delusion or Pious Fraud?

It is available here:

https://www.amazon.com/F%C3%A1tima-Phenomenon-Divine-Grace-Delusion-ebook/dp/B007XC7Q32



eBook

Friday, April 26, 2024

WARS BLOCKING CLIMATE ACTION

 

Friday, April 19, 2024

Latest news about Portugal and the EU



Prime Minister Luis Montenegro was speaking in Brussels this week when he emphasised that Portugal has a “very strong commitment” to the European Union, both in domestic and foreign policy, especially regarding Ukraine and the Middle East.

Portugal’s minister of foreign affairs personally told the Iranian ambassador to Lisbon that his country fully condemned Iran’s 13 April drone and missile attack on Israel, which some observers think was a failure and others consider a deliberately confusing plan.

The conflict in the Middle East was high on the agenda of Prime Minister Montenegro in the Spanish capital, Madrid, during his first official visit abroad.  Good Iberian neighbourliness was, of course, paramount.

Portugal joined the European Union in 1986 and has ever since been at the centre of EU decisions with all other members while contributing to EU policies.

Despite this close cooperation, more than half of Portugal’s population is reportedly unaware of the EU parliamentary elections on 9 June. That’s more than double the average in most other EU countries, according to Eurobarometer. The latest opinion poll suggests that more than 70% of EU citizens are likely to vote on 9 June.

Studies show that more than anything, EU voters want to increase the EU fight against poverty and social exclusion, as well as supporting public health institutions , economic  advancements and the creation of new jobs.

Defence and security are also high on the minds of voters, particularly because of Russia’s war in Ukraine.  While the war is also a serious issue in Portugal, it is even more so, of course, for voters in Denmark, Finland and Lithuania.

Portugal’s new minority centre-right Democratic Alliance (AD) government expects the country’s economy to grow by 1.5% this year. While not being able to depend on support from the second strongest centre-left Socialist Party, the AD fully expects to be constantly embattled by the far-right Chega party. Portugal’s latest snap election gave the AD 80 seats in parliament, the Socialists 78 and Chega 50. Angry debate and differences are thus inevitable.

Well before the EU elections, Portugal as a democratic republic will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of the 1974 ‘Carnation Revolution’ on 25th April, which ended a long period of dictatorship and colonial wars. The celebrations will include conferences, parades and other performance, many especially for young adults and children..

 

Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Solving Paris Olympics visa problems

 



By Marla Barret


As the countdown to the 2024 Olympics in Paris begins, Portuguese are gearing up to follow the games, but many may face unexpected hurdles in the form of visa requirements.


With the Olympics fast approaching, enthusiasts and supporters are busy making preparations, from travel arrangements to ensuring they have the necessary documentation to enter France for the event.

According to the latest information from SchengenVisaInfo.com, travelers heading to Paris for the Olympics may need to check their visa requirements carefully. The website provides a helpful tool for determining whether individuals require a visa based on their nationality and the duration of their stay. For Portuguese citizens, this means being aware of any visa requirements well in advance of their departure date.

In response to the visa challenges, As reported by VisaGuide.world "Ensuring that you have comprehensive coverage can provide peace of mind in case of any unforeseen circumstances or emergencies during your time abroad.

Despite the hurdles, the Portuguese remain determined to support their athletes and enjoy the spectacle of the Olympics. With anticipation building and excitement in the air, they are ready to witness their country's representatives compete on the world stage.

As the Olympics draw nearer, all eyes will be on the athletes as they prepare to showcase their talents in Paris. And for the Portuguese contingent, overcoming visa challenges is just another obstacle to navigating on the journey to experiencing the thrill of Olympic competition.

Friday, April 5, 2024

FIRST WEEK OF THE NEW PORTUGUESE GOVERNMENT


Parliament building in Lisbon


Prime Minister Luis Montenegro of Portugal’s new centre-right government said at his swearing-in ceremony on Tuesday this week that he expects to serve for the entire four-and-a-half-year term despite his party’s very narrow election victory and the country’s instability.

With just 80 seats in the 360-seat parliament, the minority government will only be able to pass legislation with support from the 78-seat centre-left Socialist Party. The biggest obstacle will be stiff opposition from the 50-seat far-right Chega (Enough) party. 

During the election campaign, Montenegro promised to lower taxes, increase salaries and pensions, and improve public services. As admirable as all that sounded, will he be able to garner sufficient support to deliver, even from the moderates in the new National Assembly?

Things started on a happy note with messages of congratulations from the European Union, the United States, and others. Portugal’s President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa promised a spirit of solidarity and cooperation. He said the new government required “careful dialogue” to increase its support base.  He recommended that the prime minister exercise patience rather than raising illusionary ambitions or expectations for the nation’s citizens.

The prime minister seemed to agree when he warned that Portugal had not become “rich” just because it had the budget surplus reported last year. To do so would be “dangerous, wrong and even irresponsible.”

He promised to reveal an emergency health programme by 2 June. He also announced that the government would seek dialogue with the parliamentarians of all parties to find a way to fight corruption.

The first cabinet meeting was held on Wednesday.  The following day the prime minister had a phone conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zekensky during which he pledged Portugal’s political, economic, humanitarian and military backing for Ukraine “for as long as it is needed.” Foreign Minister Paulo Rangel said there would be no repeat of the previous government’s “hesitation” in supporting Ukraine joining the EU.  The foreign minister also announced that the prime minister’s first foreign trip would be to Madrid.

A massive job certainly lies ahead for the prime minister who has never served in a government before. Few of his cabinet have either. Whether they will now be allowed to serve for a full term seems doubtful.

Friday, March 29, 2024

Problems loom for the new parliament

 


It seems clear that instability looms for the centre-right Democratic Alliance (AD), which will try to rule in the new Portuguese government with a very small majority.

The government’s agenda is to be debated in parliament on the 11th and 12th April. This has been announced by the assembly speaker, Pedro Aguiar Branco, who was chosen this week, but only after three failed voting sessions when the 230 members elected on March 10 manage to agree.

The AD alliance led by the Portuguese Socialist Party (PSD) with its 80 seats, and the Socialist Party (PS) with 78,  eventually compromised by agreeing to a rotating speaker arrangement in which the PSD’s Sr Branco will be in office for two years and then replaced by a PS speaker.

The far-right Chega party, which quadrupled its seats since the last parliament to 50, has already been showing opposition that could prove to be paralysing for the two mainstream parties. Founder and leader of Chega, Andre Ventura, has been seeking a long-term deal with the AD, but the AD Prime Minister Luis Montenegro, has repeatedly rejected any such cooperation in return for far-right support.   

The new parliament faces massive challenges to bring stability to Portugal, which is regarded as Europe’s poorest nation despite strong growth since 2015 under repeated PS governments. The AD, perhaps with PS support, will have to try and improve low wage levels, the ongoing housing crisis, severe problems within the national health service, and the country’s ever-present corruption activities.

The new parliament is likely to be the most fragmented since the Carnation Revolution of 25th April 1974 when the coup by left-leaning military officers ended more than 40 years of dictatorship. The revolution turned Portugal’s focus from its colonial wars and fading worldwide empire to joining the many democracies on the European continent.  

Portugal now remains a peaceful country and a dedicated member of the European Union. It is not surprising, even though it has shocked many socialists, that the Chega (Enough) party has followed similar success among populist groups in several other European countries including Germany, Italy, Sweden, Poland and Spain, instigated among other things by the failure to properly control the influx of refugees.  

Chega appeals to many younger voters in Portugal as well as some of the older ones who have fond memories of the pre-revolution Salazar dictatorship days. They are dissatisfied with mainstream politicians and want the sort of basic changes that Andre Ventura, 41, is espousing.

He has been deeply critical of things ranging from road tolls to political cronyism, “50 years of corruption” and “50 years of taxes to support parasites.” He has called his party “the last hope.”

Let’s see.    


Thursday, March 21, 2024

Portugal election: counting completed




Prime Minister Montenegro

The more than 1.5 million Portuguese registered voters living abroad had the final say in the outcome of the March 10 parliamentary election.

The overall tally, concluded this week, showed 28.84% for the centre-right Democratic Alliance (AD) and 28% for the centre-left Socialist Party (PS).  The turnout was 59.8%.

With the counting finished, President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa  has appointed Luis Montenegro, leader of the Democratic Alliance as prime minister and asked him to form a new government.  The Democratic Alliance consists of the Portuguese Democratic Party (PSD) and two smaller parties.

The surge in voting for the far-right Chega party means it will play an unprecedented third-place role in the forthcoming National Assembly. Of the 230 seats, a majority would require 116. The DA secured 80, the PS 78, and Chega 50. 

According to data published by the Statista research organisation, roughly 65,000 Portuguese registered voters live in the United States and 57,000 in Canada. These are significant numbers compared with most in Portugal’s worldwide diaspora, but  far fewer than in France (396,000), Brazil  (259,000), the United Kingdom (170,000), and Switzerland (150,300).

The preferred option within the total of 10.9 million registered voters at home and abroad would have been a right-wing coalition government, but Montenegro has dismissed any notion of close collaboration with Chega.  A left-wing coalition was the second favourite, with an AD- PS coalition trailing well behind.

While a million voters are delighted that Chega quadrupled its seats in the Assembly since the 2022 election, this is causing grave concern among centrist and left-wing voters and parliamentarians.

The concern hinges on allegations - right or wrong - that Chega’s founder, Andre Ventura, is xenophobic and a racist. In the past he has harshly criticised the 50,000 Roma and 65,000 Muslim communities in Portugal .

Evilana Dias,  a board member with Portugal’s Association of African Descendants has long worked to quell racism in Portugal, and  has told Ashifa Kassam, European affairs correspondent  for the Guardian newspaper: “We had no idea that there were so many racists in Portugal. It’s like they were hidden.”

Others say that Chega’s remarkable gain is due to decades of socio-economic failure under the centrist governments. An Algarve voter, probably typical of many who voted for Chega, told us: “I am most certainly not a racist. I voted for Chega because Andre Ventura is a very strong, honest leader who is determined to stop corruption and stabilise the many issues that have been so badly mishandled in this country for years. We desperately need positive change and stability with more support for the police, doctors and nurses among others. Only Ventura and Chega can deliver that.”  

Apart from concerns over deteriorating living standards, public opinion polls all showed a lack of enthusiasm for both the new leader of the PS, Pedro Nuno Santos, and his centre-right counterpart.  Under Ventura, the far-right has quadrupled the number of its seats since the last election in 2022. Portuguese citizens living abroad will be very familiar with far-right parties as they have a powerful say in European democracies, including France, Germany, Italy, Hungary and Spain.