The rise of radical politics in Portugal?

By Paula Martins, in News, Politics · 26-02-2021 01:00:00 · 10 Comments

Across the world, extremist political views are growing, both on the left, the right and in other forms, with extremism promising to answer citizens’ needs. Portugal has not been the exception to this, but has some particularities and social framing reveals the Portuguese people to be generally very balanced in their political choices.

First of all, what do we consider as extremism? “Extremisms or radicalisms will always be linked to movements, parties or people who use the demagogy technique, that is, someone who says something is wrong, but does not present a credible alternative. It is about easy criticism and making criticism according to what they know people want to hear”, says João Paulo Pereira, PhD in Psychology.

When analysing the Portuguese society, we can say that usually people tend to follow balanced perspectives, as explained by João Paulo Pereira. However, the current climate of insecurity is now a favourable, almost fertile ground, for the proliferation of some ideas that try to provide an answer to the problems that people are experiencing at the moment. “In a context in which people are emotionally involved, people tend to quickly move towards radicalism”, he told The Portugal News.

“There are people at the moment in Portugal who are experiencing very complicated times and that is why it is not difficult for these people, led by a survival instinct, to let themselves be led to certain types of ideas without discussing their viability”, he states.

However, he trusts that “the Portuguese people have maturity. People also want greater balance. I believe that impact will not happen.”

Do we have extremism in Portugal? In his opinion, extremism in Portugal exists, but doesn´t pose a great risk: “It will have its high point under determined circumstances”, but not a very predominant presence.

The Chega party, led by André Ventura, has gained notoriety as a right-wing party in Portugal. The party has in their agenda the implementation of measures that have caused controversy, and even some books about this phenomenon have already been written.

Some of the most controversial measures are: Chemical castration for paedophiles, life imprisonment (in Portugal the maximum penalty provided in the Criminal Code is up to 25 years), application of income tax equal for all, (without respecting the principle of contributive capacity that justifies the existence of progressive rates,) and a ban on abortion (except in cases dangerous to the woman, foetal malformation or sexual abuse).

However, in spite of all criticism that has been targeted towards the party, the Presidential candidate of Chega achieved 11 percent of the votes in the recent election. This result represents an increase in Chega’s followers, even taking into account that the context of a presidential election is different from a legislative election, first being more focused on the individual that will be chosen to be the president of the Republic.

João Paulo Pereira sees this far-right party as a “circumstance” because it’s not representative of the Portuguese people. “Chega is based on a single person. If we remove him from the scene the rest is almost empty, there is no alternative protagonist there. He grabbed a set of ideas that he found relevant and that could answer some of the Portuguese's needs. I think it's like a match, lit, burned and then extinguished, I may be wrong but I don't see this discourse of Chega staying in what represents the Portuguese people”.

“Extremisms are even part of the democratic balance”, he says, adding that: “these radical positions are often essential for balance because only in understanding that this radicalism doesn’t work or doesn’t have answers that people expect, will people try to find and discuss other options. Things are not perfect, what exist are answers which are closer to the expectations that people have”.

Even on 25 April 1974, the Portuguese revolution, known as the Carnation Revolution, which ended more than 40 years of dictatorial regime in Portugal, took place without much turmoil. Then, after the revolution, during successive provisional governments: “There was turmoil of radicalism on the right and radicalism on the left, until we found a certain balance, which is perfectly normal, and is what is happening in Portugal. Although the Portuguese are known for being balanced people, we do not escape this rule”, he told The Portugal News.

“Left-wing radicalism, right-wing, anarchists, will always exist in societies. In fact they are part of the balance of any society. Now, the issue is trying to understand what its representativeness is and I think that in Portugal we are experiencing an illusion of representativeness of some extremisms. I may be wrong but it is what I think according to what is being learned from the Portuguese people, especially since April ‘74”, he said.

Concluding, “I believe in the Portuguese ability to decide” in key times, even when some “Portuguese reveal some racist or other kinds of extremist speech, the representativeness of the Portuguese people is not like that”.

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This article on political extremism is biased, and is simply a cover to attack Chega, as it does not deal with left-wing extremism, for instance, the existence of a Communist Party in Portugal today. I strongly oppose any form of Socialism which is a failed and bankrupt ideology based on the mistaken notion that everyone should be equal on the finishing line, and that the State has all the answers to people's problems. Usually the State IS the problem!
I also think Chega's supporters might be misguided in thinking it is an antidote to Socialism. Chega is an authoritarian, nationalistic and anti-immigration party, but there is little evidence that it is in any way free-market other than perhaps favouring limited State intervention.

By Billy Bissett from Porto on 02-03-2021 01:48

We're losing our freedom world wide

By Tony from Other on 27-02-2021 10:09

A world Government is coming. That's why every country is becoming more radical and oppressive. Next they'll invent a microscopic computer chip, that can have all your personal information, ID, bank information, etc. and etc. They'll inject it into your forehead or right hand. They'll do away with plastic cards, and money. Without it you cannot buy or sell. They'll trace people everywhere they go, via satellite. No more freedom. By Antonio Magano. Canada

By Tony Magano from Other on 27-02-2021 10:06

We are headed towards a world dictarship. It starts by world governments taking away our civil liberties. Next they'll inject you with a microscopic computer chip on your right hand or on your forehead. They'll trace you with sattellites in the sky. We're headed towards a world Government. No more freedom of speech, circulation, doing the things we want. The Anti-Christ is coming. 666. That's is number. By Tony Magano, Canada.

By Tony Magano from Other on 27-02-2021 09:03

Maybe if the globalists and capitalists hadn't screwed the world up so much then socialism would be able to operate efficiently. At least the Portuguese have the option to move to another country if they so wish

By Baz from UK on 27-02-2021 12:03

The Portuguese are tired of the rhetoric conversation of the traditional political parties and nothing much happens, they rub shoulders and divide the seats in the Parliament- smoking the peace pipe. People keep carrying the load of the expenses made by short-sighted "politicians. Not having another party, Chega is enough to say BASTA, while it matures or other alternative arises.
Seems the "Democratic" Parties are becoming greed and looking after themselves.
Even our European partners make a mockery of the Portuguese politicians with so many dodgy deals. We are assisting an assault on the structures of Portugal from several national identities with foregnein partenships leaving the Country in dire straits with its obligations.
Portugueses are not look for extremisms, they only looking for an Equal, Caring, Respectful Human Society, where his childrens can grow, live happily and have opportunities without the need to emigrate. Portugal for long, long time has been sending his Childrens to emigrate, and on the other hand welcome other Nations with open arms. Shame Portugal, his grand childrens which still didnt born but already have a massive debit to pay!
Portugueses need better Leaders and Teachers, teachers who can teach honesty, Integrity, Responsability,Compassion, Solidarity, Respect, Freedom, Equality.
Proud Portuguese.

By Inacio from Other on 26-02-2021 06:20

It's difficult to know where to start with Anna's comments. She's confused about the definition of socialism; the State socialist systems of the old Soviet Union and eastern Europe were very different things from democratic socialist policies practised on the West. She seems to praise the latter in the form of Scandinavian countries; after all, who can argue with the redistribution of resources to maximise the welfare of all the people and reduce inequality. A predominantly free market economy does exactly the opposite: increases inequality, reduces public services, drives down workers' rights and minimum wages. It divides society and encourages the growth of extreme politics. How can a worker become self sufficient when being exploited with a zero hours contract and low wage? There is no suggestion that Portugal has anything other than a moderate democratic socialist government, and this is to the benefit of all in the long run.

By Felix from UK on 26-02-2021 02:57

Hmm I wonder who is paying this journalist?
Not one of the good things about Chega is stated. People! Think for yourselves! Ask some questions. Don’t be sheep.

By L Lennon from Lisbon on 26-02-2021 11:30

The Portuguese are tired of socialist policies that are keeping the country and its population poor and stopping the country from growing. We need less government interference and a more entrepreneurial system. History has shown us time and time again that socialism does not work. People always refer to Scandinavia but let’s not forget that Scandinavian countries are capitalist how they run their business and economy. They are just better at redistributing the resources that their capitalist system generates.
I personally don’t like Andre Ventura rude remarks but I’ll vote for Chega as I’de rather live in a free market capitalist system where freedom of speech and the sanctuary of the individual is respected than live is a socialist system where people are getting poorer, government bigger and more powerful, there are more taxes to pay for these freeloaders. We don’t want saving we just want the government to move out of the way so we can become self sufficient. And please these funds coming from the EU are destroying the nation with more debt and bad deals. Those monies don’t even filter back into the population. Years ago I used to vote for the left but now, I’m very disappointed with them!

By Anna from Lisbon on 26-02-2021 11:16

Aside from the Chega Party, Portugal does not have a strong Right Wing party. PSD is as pink as PS but just lighter shade of Pink. The IRS Tax system is rigged to keep the population impoverished... as it is, there is little incentive for the middle class to work and earn more as the government takes the lions share of earnings in taxes from the additional earnings!... leaving less disposable income for the Tax Payer and which in turn impedes economic growth and wealth. Unfortunately, Socialism is alive and strong in Portugal and will continue to keep its middle class under its thumb fuelling continued immigration, brain-drain, and "under the table" transactions. Portugal needs and deserves a change after 40+ years of unaffordable Socialism.

By E.Medeiros from Lisbon on 26-02-2021 08:31
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