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  • Writer's picture@ Cynthia Adina Kirkwood

Scrappy Chega’s Not #3 in Portugal

Andre Ventura, Chega's leader (Photo by Lusa/Nuno Veiga)


Chega failed to achieve its objective of becoming the third national force in the September 26 elections. However, it did gain 19 councilors in seven districts of the country, reported SAPO 24.

The controversial far-right party won only 205,266 votes, nearly half of the 405,303 of the CDU (Coligaçao Democratica Unitaria), which is a coalition of the Partido Comunista Portugues (PCP) and the Partido Ecologista “Os Verdes” (PEV).

During the election night, Andre Ventura, the leader of the far-right and controversial party, admitted that the “victory was not total” but insisted that the party “made history” in Portugal.

On the national stage, voters cast ballots in 308 municipalities and 3,092 parishes. Partido Socialista (PS) registered a victory, which lost its luster in the face of the Partido Social Democrata’s (PSD) triumphs in key municipalities, including Lisbon, Coimbra and Funchal, reported RTP Noticias (September 27). PS won the presidencies of 149 municipal councils; PSD 113; Ind 21; CDU 19,and CDS 6, according to SIC Noticias (September 27).

After running for 220 municipalities, Chega will have 19 councilors in seven districts: six in Lisbon (in the municipalities of Azambuja, Cascais, Odivelas, Loures, Vila Franca de Xira, Sintra); four in Santarem (Benavente, Entroncamento, Salvaterra de Magos, Santarem); two in Beja (Moura, Serpa); two in Faro (Loule, Portimao); two in Setubal (Seixal, Sesimbra); one in Braga (Vila Verde), and one in Viseu (Mangualde), according to SAPO 24 (September 27).

Ventura responded to journalists’ questions about possible post-electoral coalitions in municipalities, where the party now has a presence. The leader of the party, which harbors anti-establishment sentiments, said that Chega “will not be anyone’s crutch” and that if these parties did not want to ally themselves before, Chega does not want it later.

“There will be no municipal agreement between PSD and Chega. There will be no platform for understanding until this happens at the national level. We are not for sale,” said Ventura, a former football commentator with a penchant for making grand and, sometimes, derogatory statements.

Also, Ventura failed to win the presidency of the Municipal Assembly of Moura and placed third, reported Publico (September 26). Partido Socialista (PS) won 2,675 votes, followed by CDU (Coligaçao Democratica Unitaria) (PCP-PEV) with 2,540 and Chega with 946 votes.

In Moura, Chega elected one councilor and six municipal deputies. The party won 14.3 percent of the votes, far from the 30.85 percent won by Andre Ventura in the presidential elections in January, according to SAPO 24.

In total, Chega elected 171 municipal deputies and 205 members of parish councils, but no presidents.

In the legislative elections on October 6, 2019, Chega obtained 67,502 votes – 1.29 percent of the total – electing Ventura as the party’s sole deputy in Parliament.

In the presidential elections on January 24, Ventura had 497,746 votes, or 11.69 percent, placing third.

From Braga on the night of the September 26 elections, Ventura said:

“We are in many cities in third or fourth place.”

In 2020, the party placed third in monetary contributions, surpassing Partido Socialista (PS).

“An Expresso analysis of the 2020 annual accounts of the nine parties with parliamentary seats shows that Chega has become the political force in Portugal with the third highest declared amount of contributions and donations, totaling €335,000 raised last year, slightly above what the Partido Socialista managed to collect (€330,000), reported the Expresso (August 13).

Although Ventura’s party fundraising is far from that of the PCP (Partido Comunista Portugues) (1921), which reached €3.4 million, and from the PSD (Partido Social Democrata) (1974) with €2.5 million, Chega (2019) raised far more than other parties that also recently have arrived in the Assembly of the Republic, reported the Expresso. The Iniciativa Liberal (2017) received four times less (€81,000). In the case of PAN (Partido das Pessoas, dos Animais e da Natureza) (2009), the gap is even greater at 22 times less with €15,000, although its representation in Parliament is much higher than that of its rivals: three deputies compared with one from Chega and one from Inciativa Liberal.

Also, last year, CDS-PP (Partido Popular) (1974) raised €69,623; Bloco de Esquerda (BE) (1999) received €65,926, and PEV (Partido Ecologista “Os Verdes”) (1982) raised €7,270.

Created in April 2019, a year and a half after the Inciativa Liberal, Chega has seen an exponential increase in aid received in the following year, since Ventura became a parliamentary deputy. Dues and contributions rose 1450 percent and donations grew 257 percent in 2020.

In the September 26 election, 46.3 percent abstained from voting, reported SIC Noticias (September 27). In 2017, abstention had dropped to 45 percent from the record of 47.4 percent in 2013, according to SAPO24 (September 27). In 1974, 35 percent abstained from voting, according to SIC Noticias (September 26).

The rate of blank votes, in which a voter willfully marks a ballot wrongly or not at all, dropped to 2.52 percent from 2.63 percent four years ago, reported SAPO 24. In addition, the null rate decreased to 1.61 percent from 1.91 percent.

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