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Portugal’s center-right leader invited to form government

by editor

Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa invited Luís Montenegro, leader of the center-right Democratic Alliance coalition, to form a government following tight elections which saw a resurgence of the far right.

Montenegro’s Democratic Alliance narrowly won national elections earlier this month, securing 80 seats in the 230-seat parliament but failing to secure a governing majority. The center-right coalition was closely followed by the Socialist Party with 78 seats, and far-right Chega party with 50 seats.

Although in-person voting concluded nearly two weeks ago, the final four seats in the parliament were not allocated until Wednesday, when the votes sent in by mail from abroad were tallied. Chega gained two seats thanks to the considerable support it received from Portuguese voters residing in Luxembourg, Switzerland and Brazil; the Democratic Alliance and the Socialist Party gained one additional seat each.

Rebelo de Sousa asked Montenegro to form a government early Thursday morning, following the confirmation of the final tally. The center-right politician is expected to unveil his Cabinet next week and be sworn in as prime minister on April 2.

“We’re going to give young people hope, we’re going to have a strong economy and public services that respond to people’s problems,” Montenegro said on social media. “We’re going to deliver change.”

March’s elections, which registered above-average turnout, were called after the abrupt resignation of the Socialist Party’s António Costa in the wake of an influence-peddling probe last fall.

The election results were a blow for the socialists, who had their worst showing since 2011, while it was a victory for the populist Chega party, which is set to play a decisive role in Portugal’s political future.

Neither left-wing nor center-right parties hold enough seats to form a governing majority in parliament, which means that in order to pass legislation, Montenegro will need to forge across-the-aisle deals or negotiate with Chega — something he has repeatedly vowed not to do.

Although Rebelo de Sousa could dissolve parliament and call new elections as soon as next fall, the Portuguese president has stated he would prefer not to send voters back to the polls until his mandate concludes in 2026.

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