Our national drill sergeant in the persona of President Marcelo may well find it necessary to tie straw to the left and hay to the right legs of the new recruits who will soon be reporting for duty at the S. Bento barracks. Only in this way may they be reminded of their electoral manifestos in which promises were made to what has proved to be a disparate body of voters

The old political concept of a linear arrangement of parties ranging from communists on the “far left” to fascists on the “far right” with a central hotchpotch of Socialists, Liberals, Conservatives. Democrats, Monarchists and Republicans is being replaced by a circular diagram without extremities. Blame that on popularism if you will, but old beliefs and mores have nuanced to such a degree that no particular party can nowadays claim a monopoly in its application of policies.

Antis and pros to controversies such as the control of immigration, climate change, euthanasia, law enforcement and bellicosity are no longer capable of being contained within any particular party box of tricks. They all overlap according to whatever politicians consider to be of the most appeal to the voters of (almost) universal suffrage whose response is predictably capricious.

Psephologists who have attempted to analyse the uncertain data collected by exit pollsters after the supposedly secret ballot of 10th March are concluding that the 1.1 million votes for the party Chega have come largely from the Socialist party and discontented abstentionists drawn mainly from the “blue collar ranks” of males with secondary education. If so, their previous political convictions (or their lack) may dilute the more extreme views of the founding militants who will compose the 48 mandates which now present a third dynamic force in parliament.

Be that as it may, one must concede that the political spectrum is at a cross-roads whereby the traditional concept of western democracy is increasingly fragile and is challenged by either a return to benevolent despotism or, more likely, a cyber-disciplined selection of our governance by the lords of the internet assisted by the robots of AI.

A century ago, that prescient Influencer, Winston Churchill, stated “The best argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with the average voter”. A brief search of the political commentaries made by cybernauts on 10 March might well draw the same conclusion.

The outlook is bleak. A second election this year could well be caused by populist frustration and result in bringing the discontents of Chega to the foreground of national socialism by becoming the second or even the first force in a broken parliament.

Drill sergeant Marcelo may decisively forestall this lamentable threat to the Portuguese democratic system by emulating more powerful contemporary Presidents in the appointment of a coalition of able and well qualified ministers drawn from all levels of society. But this can only be an ephemeral solution in an increasing danger of global revolution.