Portugal holds elections with a Covid record and the rise of the far right

Portugal celebrates this Sunday Presidential elections under the extraordinary condition of the pandemic, since the country in the last week has chained records of new infections and tougher measures. Although the current president, the conservative Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, is still outlined as an overwhelming favorite, the low participation anticipated by the current maximums of contagions will clearly favor the emerging far-right deputy André Ventura, for whom the possibility of forcing an unprecedented second round would already mean an unprecedented victory with a view to their future aspirations.

The polls give Rebelo de Sousa approximately between 58% and 62% of the votes while, at a great distance, Ventura is in a situation of technical tie (around 12% or 13%) as the second most voted candidate, side by side with the candidate Ana Gomes, the latter an exceptional case: socialist deputy who appears with the support of two other parties, People-Animals-Nature (PAN) and Livre, given that the prime minister and socialist leader, António Costa, has eluded its endorsement. The rest of the seven candidates does not rise above 10%.


Ventura is an anomalous figure in the politics of Portugal, a country that had distinguished itself by nipping at the roots the emergence of the extreme right that has marked the last years of European politics. In 2021, two years after the creation of his party Enough! (Enough!), the containment dam seems to have registered its first cracks, which has meant the end of Portuguese exceptionalism in the face of the rise of the radicals. His rhetoric, in principle, is indiscernible in many respects from coreligionists of the European extreme right such as Marine Le Pen O Matteo Salvini. Through inflammatory language on social media, this 37-year-old lawyer and soccer program star proposes the unbridled hunt for illegal immigration, tougher prison sentences, chemical castration for pedophiles and convicted rapists and reduction of the number of deputies in Parliament as part of an all-out fight against national “elites”.

At other times, however, the virulence of his speech knows no rival in Europe: his party proposed to vote on the possibility of removing the ovaries of women who had abortions, he has advocated for the expulsion of the deputy from the country Joacine Katar, of black race, and has come to question the sacrosanct legacy of the Carnation Revolution that ended the dictatorship in 1974, reports Ep.

Ventura is a source of controversy, not even popular protests like the one organized last week – with a symbol of red lips after Ventura told his Left Bloc rival, Marisa Matías, that “it looked like a doll “For putting on makeup, or acts of violence such as the one that occurred on Thursday in Setúbal, where a group of protesters stoned him after a campaign rally, seems to have taken a toll on him: his party has risen nine points in the polls in just two years and has emerged as a key figure to form a government in the Azores.

The 11% in voting intention that the polls give him pales in comparison to the minimum of 60% that President Rebelo de Sousa will obtain, but experts assume that the supporters of the deputy (or, as he calls them, the “Popular Army Portuguese “), they will deposit their ballot against all odds in the middle of an unprecedented health crisis since the beginning of the pandemic.

The Portuguese health authorities have notified this week both records of cases and deaths from Covid-19 in 24 hours, at a time when a lockdown is in force that has even tightened in recent days due to the worrying increase in infections in a country that will reach these elections around 600,000 positives and 9,500 deaths. Faced with the crisis, Rebelo de Sousa has earned the admiration of his supporters for his pragmatism and his statesman ways, to become a figure of stability that has reinforced the figure of the president far beyond the limited powers exercised in national politics.

In fact, Prime Minister Costa has abstained from supporting Gomes in these elections, unofficially so as not to snatch votes from the veteran president, and on the other hand to avoid a guaranteed defeat, which has generated some tension with the socialist candidate. “I publicly expressed my dissatisfaction with his attitude when launching a right-wing candidate,” Gomes lamented in statements to the newspaper ‘El Observador’. However, Rebelo de Sousa’s long association with power has been exploited by Ventura to put the president in the bag of those “elites” that he intends to expel one day, and the president has been unable to recover the disaffection of the electorate that is has passed to the side of Chega!

“Just need 70% abstention so that a second round is almost inevitable, “the Portuguese president warned this week, about what would be an unprecedented phenomenon in almost half a century of democracy. The polls do not rule out that percentage at all, although they estimate that it will be around 65%. However, three polls published this Friday assume that the president will be re-elected in the first round.

He Eurosondage survey for Porto Canal and the weekly Sol reveals that De Sousa would be elected with 61.8% of the votes. For its part, the Aximage barometer says that the current president of the Republic would be elected in the first round with 59.4% of the voting intentions. Finally, and according to the survey carried out by ISCTE / ICS, the president would collect 58%. In this poll, however, Marcelo has dropped eight points from December to now.

Source: LA INFORMACIÓN – Lo último by www.lainformacion.com.

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