Sunday, June 16, 2024

Discover the new Portuguese parties of the upcoming European Parliament

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António Costa’s third government, formed in March 2022, faced numerous scandals that significantly affected the two major parties in Portugal, particularly the Socialist Party (PS) and the centre-right Democratic Alliance (AD), a coalition led by the Social Democratic Party (PSD). Consequently, smaller parties such as the far-right Chega (Enough), the Liberal Initiative, and the LIVRE left-environmentalist party have increased their political influence.

The shift from the traditional two-party system was evident in the snap elections of March 10, where the AD won 80 seats in the 230-seat National Assembly, while the PS secured 78 seats. The smaller parties also saw gains. The surprise was the victory of Chega, which increased its seats from 12 to 50, securing 18.1% of votes. Chega’s leader, André Ventura, expressed interest in forming a coalition government with AD, but his demands were seen as excessive. There were concerns that Chega’s participation could threaten the country’s stability, so the two main parties, PSD and PS, made a historic decision on March 27 to reject any collaboration with Chega, understanding the potential threats it posed to the country’s political landscape and its participation in the EU.

However, the rise of the three parties will also affect the June European elections in Portugal, as polls indicate they will win seats in the European Parliament for the first time!

A fiercely anti-EU far-right

Chega was founded in 2019 and contested the general, gaining a maigre 1.3%, conquering one seat in the Portuguese Assembly, and European elections receiving 1.5%. However, the party was able to exploit the scandals that emerged in the country, use social media to distort facts on immigration and the achievements of the European Union and spread hate speech against migrants, the Roma community, LGBTQ+ people, and Muslims. André Ventura called the Roma a safety problem for the country.  

Portugal seemed immune to the far right until 2022, when Chega, promising to fight corruption, rose spectacularly, receiving 7.3% and winning 12 seats. Now, polls indicate that the party’s support is 16-17%, allowing it to win up to 5 seats in the European Parliament.

Chega is a member of the Identity and Democracy group of European far-right parties, along with Marine Le Pen, Matteo Salvini, Geert Wilders, and the Austrian FPÖ.

The party questions EU achievements such as CAP, the Green Deal, and Schengen, among others, and uses populist rhetoric and disinformation to attract votes.

It encourages the farmers’ movement, as other far-right parties do in Europe, understanding that conservative rural communities are a source of political support.  

“The real culprits for the destruction of our agriculture and the rural world are the globalist bureaucrats in Brussels. Through the 2030 Agenda, they impose their climate fanaticism, destroying our producers, who are unable to compete with products from other countries!”

Chega promotes a non-inclusive society attacking vulnerable groups such as the LGBTI community.

“Gender ideology has taken schools, institutions, culture and even language by storm. With CHEGA in the European Parliament, there will not be another cent of public money for any association that promotes gender ideology,” the party recently posted on X.

André Ventura promotes Islamophobia, as he did with a video recorded in Syria in 2013, and exploits any attack committed by a Muslim or refugee in any country in Europe to demonstrate the fault of immigration policy.

After the cordon sanitaire imposed around his party, André Ventura intensified its attacks against the European institutions and its leaders, including the European Commission’s President Ursula von der Leyen.

“Ursula von der Leyen represents everything we despise in politics: corruption, as she is being investigated for the contracts she made during the COVID-19 pandemic, uncontrolled immigration, for which she is directly responsible, the nefarious 2030 Agenda, climate fanaticism and the great economic and globalist interests. It is nothing more than a puppet at the service of the great European elites, who attack the sovereignty of the people and the freedom of all of us!” Ventura posted on X on May 31.

Concerning the war in Ukraine, Chega took the side of the Ukrainians, and Ventura condemned the Russian attack on Ukraine “without reservations, without mincing words”. However, the top candidate for the European elections, António Tânger-Corrêa, appointed by Ventura as the vice-president of the party, recently wrote on Facebook a text showing solidarity with the “victims of thoughtless, idiotic and dangerous decisions (not to say anything else) by the Kyiv Government”. He also noted that all those who condemned the Russian invasion didn’tdidn’t react ” when the United States and its Allies and NATO attacked, invaded and occupied, under false pretexts, territories thousands of kilometres away, as was the case with Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, to name just the most recent”.

Chega’s lead candidate adopted the entire narrative used by Russia against Ukraine, supporting that Russia is under NATO siege and that “the Government of President Zelensky (and his companions) voluntarily ignored the country’scountry’s situation, opting to an alignment with Washington and supporting itself with elements from foreign forces, including confessed Nazis, such as the members of the Azov Battalion.”

Tânger Corrêa, a former diplomat, defends also several conspiracy theories, including antisemitism.

In the interview on Rádio Observador on May 10, António Tânger Corrêa defended a known conspiratorial theory about the September 11 attack, which stated that Jews (85% of workers) did not go to work that day at the World Trade Center, warned by Jewish centres.

Recently, he published a book, which was an editorial success among the people of Chega, in which he argues about the racist theory of great population replacement and the existence of a supposed ”Kalergi Plan” to say that “uncontrolled and savage immigration” is designed to control the European population. He also believes that “individuals in the Davos Economic Forum or the Bilderberg Group” control the world.

The liberals align with the EU values

The liberals in Portugal are also on the rise. The Iniciativa Liberal (IL – Liberal Initiative), a RENEW member, will be among the few liberal parties in Europe with a positive performance in the June elections. Founded in December 2017, IL participated in the 2019 general elections, winning one seat in the Assembly of the Republic. However, in the 2022 general elections and the snap elections of 2024, it elected 8 MPs with a 5%. The party is expected to win around 6%, elect 1-2 MEPs, and enter the European Parliament for the first time.

IL proposes completing the single market for services, capital, banking, digital, energy, and knowledge and eliminating rules that support bureaucracy.

“For every new European rule, we want two existing rules to be eliminated,” emphasises its electoral programme.

The Liberal Initiative calls for an “uncompromising defence of Freedom of Expression, refusing censorship mechanisms and combating cancel culture.”

While acknowledging the advantages of rapid technological advances, it also underlines that digital rights must be protected, always focusing on defending individual freedom and preventing monitoring and surveillance.

IL has a clear stance concerning the European taxpayers’ money and how the EU funds are allocated to member countries, connecting it with the rule of law and corruption.

Thus, it proposes a “rule of law conditionality mechanism,” depriving those who do not respect democratic rules of access to European money. In addition, it supports the “strengthening of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office to combat corruption and fraud in the use of European funds”.

Il supports Ukraine’s path towards the EU under the condition that it will fulfil the Copenhagen criteria.

The party clarifies that it will not support Ursula von Der Leyen for President of the European Commission, as she is under “investigation for the multimillion-dollar vaccine business at the time of the pandemic”, and instead will support the European Liberal candidate, Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmerman.

[Iniciativa Liberal@LiberalPT]

Undoubtedly, the charismatic leading candidate for the European elections, João Cotrim Figueiredo, has had a considerable role in IL’s electoral success since 2019. A fourth-generation businessman with a long career in light industry, he is against imposing more taxes.    

“Taxes are always about people. It’s the people who pay them. Trying to solve problems at the expense of people’s money is easy,” the liberal top candidate posted on X on June 3.

Left, green and pro-Europeans

The polls indicate that the third new Portuguese party in the European Parliament will be the left-wing, green, and Europeanist LIVRE. Founded in 2014, it entered the Assembly of the Republic only in 2019, with one seat.

The party supports a universal basic income, increasing the national minimum wage to €1,000 monthly and centres its campaigns on remote working, pregnant workers, workers with health problems, and caregivers. LIVRE supports the Green New Deal. Its programme also promotes animal welfare by calling to ban bullfighting, and lowering VAT from 23% to 6% on vets and pet food.

LIVRE fights to increase funds for research and education.

The lead candidate, Francisco Paupério, a biologist specialising in bioinformatics, explains that LIVRE will work in Brussels for “fiscal harmonisation”.

[LIVRE@LIVREpt]

“Unfortunately, despite having a single market, we have different tax rules, allowing companies to behave differently in different countries. And settle mainly in specific countries; countries almost considered ‘tax havens’ within the European Union”, said Paupério.

Thus, LIVRE proposes to “put an end to this exacerbated fiscal competitiveness”, not by imposing a “single rate” but rather by achieving a “greater harmonisation”.

The party condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine and supported the sanctions against Moscow.

LIVRE is expected to elect one seat in the European Parliament (5%) and participate in The Greens – European Free Alliance.

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