C: Pedro Pina | RTP | CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 | https://bit.ly/35DMVYM

New Portuguese party makes gains in elections

A new party, CHEGA, (the Portuguese for Enough!) has made a breakthrough in Portugal’s national elections, increasing its vote sixfold.  

The reaction of CHEGA leader André Ventura to his party’s increased electoral support and seats in Sunday’s elections to the legislative assembly was interesting.

When interviewed by Portuguese media as the overall result became clear, Ventura said that while he was pleased with CHEGA’s improvement, he was disappointed that the Socialist Party will now have an overall majority – and that he believed the election signals the beginning of an end to what he described as “soft opposition” to Socialist Prime Minister António Costa who had made a point of campaigning on his openness to coalition negotiations with every party other than CHEGA.

CHEGA was only founded in 2019 when Ventura was elected as its sole member of the Assembly with an overall vote for the party of just 1.3%. On Sunday, that share increased to 7.35% of the overall vote, with the party capturing over 385,000 votes, sufficient to elect 12 members of the Assembly.

The two far-left blocs lost 20 of their 32 seats, and it is clear that there has been a significant shift by former left supporters to CHEGA, just as many working class voters in other European countries have abandoned the left as it fully embraces the extremes of ultra-liberalism and identity politics.

The size of the CHEGA membership is also significant. It was already 40,000 in 2021 and has presumably risen along with the growth in electoral support.

That compares to 74,000 for the ruling Socialist Party. It may be an indication that it is a genuine mass movement rather than a temporary beneficiary of a protest vote. It will be interesting to see then whether it can solidify itself as a serious opposition with genuine roots in the community, just as some would argue that “Trumpist populism” in the United States has created a massive activist grassroots movement that is way bigger than the man himself and certainly bigger than the Republican Party.

Predictably most of the mainstream has confined its treatment of Ventura and CHEGA to Trump comparisons – Ventura is a former TV sports pundit – and some of its odder policies. Along of course with the general line that it is “far right” and engaged in “demonising the Roma community” and others of the “marginalized.”

What do they stand for? Well, if you read some websites you might get the impression that they are a single issue party that advocates the chemical castration of sex offenders. Of course, there is more to them than that and their main policies certainly do not place them on the “far right” of the political spectrum – if that appellation is meant to conjure up images of Nazism.

The liberal and left media and even the centre right in its current mode appear totally incapable of comprehending that there is a conservative right – often with connections to Catholic social teaching – which had not only been hostile to Nazism and played an honourable part in the resistance to it including at a time when the Communist International was in alliance with Hitler’s party, but which up until 20 years ago was represented within the European Christian Democratic parties before they like the democratic left went full on Woke in the greater part.

The main planks of the CHEGA platform are a critical attitude towards EU centralisation, similar to Poland and Hungary; strict controls on immigration and immigrant crime and social welfare dependency; opposition to abortion and transgender ideology; and lessening state taxes and bureaucracy to encourage domestic enterprise. The party sees these issues as central to strengthening traditional Portuguese society that many regard as under threat from the establishment’s soft attitude to the impact of mass immigration and liberalism.

One of their proposals to control immigration is that Portugal agree some sort of procedure with the former Portuguese colonies like Mozambique and Angola and with Brazil to ensure that people genuinely seeking work for example might be facilitated in getting employment permits. There is almost nobody in Portugal who considers that anyone coming from any of those countries is a legitimate asylum seeker.

The growth of the new right parties in most European countries has at least begun, as we have seen in Denmark, to force some states to reassess their unthinking embrace of forces that present a real threat to the foundations of political and social order.

Irish liberals often lament that this country was slow to adopt such deracinated liberalism but of course now they have succeeded in establishing their hegemony across almost all sectors of our society. Where Ireland has been behind the curve is that the significant part of the population that is at the very least critical of where all this is going is effectively placed beyond the bounds of political and public discourse.

The current consensus that includes virtually the entire political establishment between those parties currently in government and in opposition, is both reflective of that, and a guarantee that dissenting voices will continue to be either silenced or immediately set upon by the corporate and state-funded witch hunters of the far-left.

Other European countries, however, are proof that once people do begin to realise the negative consequences of the radical changes that this can be pretty rapidly manifested in shocks to the political system itself.

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