The rise of the far right in Portugal – the end of the “Portuguese exception”

Rajko Petrović ORCID logo

Published on 21 April 2023

ABSTRACT: The paper analyzes the sudden rise of the Portuguese extreme right, which marked the end of the “Portuguese exception”, i.e., the long-standing unwritten rule that Portugal is the only member state of the European Union in which the extreme right has not won any elections, whether presidential, parliamentary, or European, did not achieve significant results. It attempts to explain the causes of the rise of CHEGA, a far-right, conservative and ultra-nationalist Portuguese party which, to everyone’s surprise, won 12 seats in the 2022 parliamentary elections and became the third-strongest party in the Portuguese parliament. I will first analyze the general political and social context in Portugal, the results of the previous few election cycles, and, finally, the CHEGA program. Using the historical method, the case study method and the comparative analysis method, I argue that the economic crisis, the rise of xenophobia, dissatisfaction with the Portuguese political establishment and the rise of feminism and left-wing ideas in universities and the media decisively contributed to this unprecedented success of the Portuguese far right. The scholarly contribution of the work is its analysis of the political situation in Portugal, a country unfairly neglected in Serbian political analysis, and in its analysis of the further spread of the far-right wave throughout Europe.

KEY WORDS: Portugal, CHEGA, extreme right, parliamentary elections, xenophobia.