Portugal: new legislative period begins in chaos

In Portugal the liberal-conservative PSD under Prime Minister designate Luís Montenegro has only managed to get its candidate elected as house speaker in the fourth round of voting. The right-wing Chega party, which gained a number of seats in the elections, had also put forward a candidate - apparently in contradiction to what had been agreed - meaning that Montenegro had to compete for the votes of the Socialists (PS). Commentators see more difficulties on the horizon.

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Correio da Manhã (PT) /

Stability depends on the Socialists

For Correio da Manhã, Portugal's ability to act now depends above all on Socialist opposition leader Pedro Nuno Santos:

“What is certain is that the election of the second most important figure in the state has confirmed the difficulties that the future executive will face in governing. And how long it can continue to govern is now increasingly questionable. As far as Chega is concerned, the matter seems to be settled. Since Montenegro will not back down, Chega's support cannot be counted on. Now it's up to Pedro Nuno Santos. How long the Socialist leader is willing to hold hands with the PSD is currently the big question, regardless of what cabinet comes to power under Montenegro.”

Expresso (PT) /

Montenegro no master in back-room deal-making

For Expresso the episode shows that the prime minister designate lacks the necessary political skills for the job:

“The shadow games, the half-words, the hidden deals, the covert blackmail only work in combination with great political artistry. The kind we know from ex-prime minister António Costa, whose skills in this area few could match. And which Luís Montenegro is far from possessing. If he doesn't have them, he should avoid playing with fire. The PSD will have to make decisions and accept the price. If it wants to enter into agreements with Chega, it will have to stand by them openly. If it wants to achieve something with the PS, it can't make deals with Chega first.”

El País (ES) /

Democratic erosion

In an article in El País, political scientist Marina Costa Lobo writes:

“Chega's weight in parliament has changed the political jigsaw puzzle in Portugal and could even block the entire democratic system. ... Chega is a product of the democratic erosion in Portugal. ... Many voters have abandoned the responsible stance they had stoically maintained since the beginning of the euro crisis in protest at the political incompetence of the systemic parties or because they recognise in Chega attitudes that were not previously represented in Portugal's political space. The challenge for the traditional parties now consists in reconciling with this electorate.”