Presidential elections in Portugal: how far will the extreme right go?

“I want, first of all, to thank you for this initiative, which is the first of its kind in Portugal”, says André Ventura, leader of the ultra-right Chega!

A drive-in movie theater near Porto has been André Ventura’s solution to circumvent the pandemic in this presidential campaign in Portugal.

With his party Chega! (Enough!), The leader and candidate appeals to the voters fed up with the the state political, unemployment and economic problems. And he does so with the support of party members, such as José Lourenço, who defends his strong right-wing alternative.

“Chega! Could become as much a political success as it could fail. It could take a meteoric rise and then plummet. We know it and we don’t want it to happen.”, says José Lourenço, leader of Chega! in Oporto.

The anti-establishment party has gained support beyond the borders of Portugal, drawing the attention of the leader of the National Grouping in France, Marine Le Pen, who visited Lisbon in early January.

The party’s policy is seen as anti-immigration and xenophobic, something that Chega! denies. However, his apparent rise comes at a time when Portugal documents growing racial violence.

A Portuguese from Senegal claims to have received a message with death threats against him. As an anti-racist activist, define Chega! with multiple labels.

“Chega! They are two things. One does not exclude the other. Xenophobia and racism are almost twin brothers, using medical language. Whenever there is xenophobia there is racism and vice versa, since they are concepts supported by the idea of ​​excluding someone”says Mamadou Ba, leader of the NGO SOS Racismo.

But what are the real chances that Chega! dominate the political landscape? Political scientist Carlos Jalali says that public dissatisfaction is a relevant dimension to consider along with voters who are reluctant to share their opinions publicly.

“We knew that there is this latent dissatisfaction, that it had no place to find an echo and that now, with Chega !, it is beginning to have it, although the party still represents only 1% of the electorate in legislative elections. In the current context it seems very Chega! unlikely to become a dominant force in the political system. It will be interesting to see if there is this effect of the timid Chega voter! This happened in the US presidential elections. “, explains Carlos Jalali, political scientist, University of Aveiro.

“Will the silent voters vote this Sunday the 24th? That is the big question. Another challenge facing this election is the pandemic, which could also have an impact on who and how many people go to the polls.”, says Pedro Sacadura, Euronews special envoy.