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Europe’s Far-Right Gathers in Portugal, Shows Support for Chega Ahead of Election

Still in celebratory mood after a shock win for Dutch populist Geert Wilders, some of Europe’s far-right leaders gathered in Lisbon on Friday in a show of support for their Portuguese counterpart ahead of a snap election in March.

Andre Ventura, leader of Portugal’s far-right party Chega, welcomed members of Europe’s Identity and Democracy alliance, including France’s Marine Le Pen and co-leader of Alternative for Germany Tino Chrupalla.

The gathering came days after Wilders, beating all predictions, booked major gains in the Dutch election on an anti-immigration platform. But his hopes of building a coalition hit an early hurdle.

“In Portugal, as in other European countries, the left has reached the end of its cycle… trust in us (far-right) is growing, in Austria, in Germany, in France, in Portugal,” Le Pen told reporters in Lisbon.

Portuguese Socialist Prime Minister Antonio Costa stepped down on Nov. 7 over an investigation into alleged illegalities in his government’s handling of lithium, hydrogen and data centre deals.

President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa called an election for March 10.

Established in 2019, Chega stunned the nation when it grabbed 1.3% of the vote in an election that year, winning the far-right’s first seat since the end of Portugal’s dictatorship in 1974.

It then managed to increase its share to around 7% in the 2022 election, emerging as the third-largest parliamentary force. A survey released on Friday by Intercampus showed support for Chega could now grow to 13.5%.

Prospects of Chega gaining further support are worrying rights groups who say he fuels racism and xenophobia.

Ventura was fined in 2020 for discriminatory remarks against the Roma people, and also criticises the Black community. At the height of the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020, he organised a demonstration to deny racism was a problem.

“I am happy to be by his side today,” Le Pen wrote of Ventura on X.

The same Intercampus poll showed Costa’s Socialist Party (PS), which will elect a new leader next month, with 23.6% of the vote and centre-right opposition Social Democrats (PSD) with 21.9%. Other polls show PSD ahead.

According to Friday’s poll, PSD would need Chega’s support to establish a government but party leader Luis Montenegro has so far ruled out any such alliance.

“If (Chega) doesn’t win the election but there is a right-wing parliamentary majority, (I hope) there’s the capacity to create an alternative,” Ventura said.

Source : Reuters