The moderate right governs in Portugal with Luís Montenegro as the new prime minister

The moderate right governs in Portugal with Luís Montenegro as the new prime minister

Following uncertainty over the final results of the March 10 legislative elections, President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa appointed Luis Montenegro, leader of the center-right Democratic Alliance (AD) coalition, as the new Prime Minister. After eight years of socialist government, the European country is leaning to the right with pressure from the extreme right to participate in the Government of Montenegro.

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“There is no reason, internal or external, to doubt the ability for us to have a stable government.” It is the message of the new Prime Minister of Portugal, Luís Montenegro, after the narrow victory of his center-right party, the Democratic Alliance (AD), in the legislative elections.

His appointment, by President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, occurs after the electoral results were officially known. The vote of Portuguese residents abroad defined the dispute. The Montenegrin party won a total of 80 of the 230 seats in the National Assembly.

The Socialist Party – which was previously the Government – obtained 78 seats and the far-right party, Chega, obtained 50.

With these results, the conservative leader put an end to eight years of socialist governments led by António Costa, former prime minister who resigned in November amid investigations for alleged corruption.

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The future government will be announced on March 28 and will take office on April 2. However, Montenegro announced that next Thursday it will present to the president the composition of his team.

Without a majority in Parliament, it will have to dialogue with the rest of the parties, although Portuguese analysts and politicians believe that it will not be a strong government. Hence his promise of stability in the first hours after his appointment.

In a meeting with the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, Montenegro reinforced the message of tranquility, clarifying that, although it does not have an absolute majority in Parliament, “it has the trust of the voters.”

During his visit to Belgium, he also held a brief meeting with his predecessor, António Costa, in which they discussed the transition.

Willing to rule alone

Montenegro said that his party had the strength to govern alone, ruling out any type of negotiation with other political forces. With the PS as the opposition, the AD has to talk with other tendencies to reach agreements within Parliament for the approval of laws.

However, on several occasions he has said that he will not negotiate or allow the far-right Chega party, which is the third political force in Portugal, to govern. However, the leader of this organization, André Ventura, said that Montenegro would be responsible for any political instability if he maintains his position of excluding Chega from the negotiations.

To avoid tensions on his first day as prime minister, Montenegro told the press that out of a “sense of responsibility” he will dialogue with all parties, including the opposition.

One of the leader's first challenges to overcome is the approval of the budget, which already has detractors even before his appointment to office.

Chega threatened to vote against the bill and socialist leader Pedro Nuno Santos said Tuesday that it was “practically impossible” for his party to support AD's budget. However, the two parties mentioned that they are willing to negotiate.

The advance of the extreme right

With the arrival of the center-right to power, the appointment of Montenegro and the effervescence of the extreme right in Portugal, European leaders fear that this political trend will take on greater prominence in the next European Parliament elections.

According to polls, the center-right European People's Party (EPP) and the Socialists will maintain a majority of seats in the European Parliament. However, in several countries, right-wing populism and the anti-establishment speeches of some candidates have gained ground, which will be reflected in the number of seats they obtain in the June elections.

In the case of Portugal, the Chega party, with barely five years of existence, manages to be the third political force and shows the country's growing disenchantment with socialist governments. In 2019, Chega won one seat, by 2022 he won 12 and in these elections he won 50.

Ventura shares causes with other radical right parties across the continent. In recent years he has held meetings with Matteo Salvini, Italy's deputy prime minister and head of the right-wing populist party, the French far-right leader Marine Le Pen, and the leader of the neighboring Spanish far-right party Vox, Santiago Abascal.

With Reuters, EFE and local media

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Written by Editor TLN

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