Portugal Elections: Center-Right Wins by Narrow Margin, while Far-Right Achieves Historic Result – MPI

Portugal Elections: Center-Right Wins by Narrow Margin, while Far-Right Achieves Historic Result


In the legislative elections held this Sunday (10) in Portugal, the center-right coalition, led by the Democratic Alliance (AD) of the Social Democratic Party (PSD), emerged victorious by a narrow margin over the Socialist Party (PS).

Additionally, there is a significant increase in votes for the far-right party, Chega, whose parliamentary seats could triple. This result indicates a shift in the Portuguese political landscape, with the rise of more right-wing political forces.

With the Assembly of the Republic, the Portuguese Parliament, composed of 230 deputies, the elected officials this Sunday will be responsible for forming a new government. With 99% of the ballots counted, the results indicate the following distribution among the three main parties:

  • Democratic Alliance (AD): 79 parliamentarians, representing 29.54% of the votes.
  • Socialist Party (PS): 77 parliamentarians, with 28.66% of the votes.
  • Chega (far-right): 48 parliamentarians, reaching 18.05% of the votes.

Although the exact composition of seats for each party has not yet been determined, it is certain that none of them obtained an absolute majority. According to the Portuguese newspaper “Público,” the AD can only form a majority if it forms an alliance with Chega, while the PS faces difficulties in conceiving a coalition government solely with other left-wing parties.

AD leader Luis Montenegro stated that the party will act responsibly, without confirming a possible coalition with the far-right. Meanwhile, the leader of the PS acknowledged the AD’s victory.

The elections ended at 7 p.m. in Lisbon, with about 33% abstention, a significantly lower percentage than the average of the most recent votes, indicating a high level of voter participation.

During the last decades, Portugal has been guided by two moderate-oriented parties: the Socialist Party (PS), center-left, and the Democratic Alliance (AD), center-right. However, in recent months, both parties have faced corruption allegations involving their politicians. In this context, the far-right party, Chega, obtained a significant vote, contrasting with its performance in previous elections, where it only garnered 7.2% of the votes.

Just a year ago, Portugal enjoyed a remarkably stable and solid government in Europe, with an absolute majority of the PS, something rare in the parliamentary systems of the continent. The years of deep financial crisis and the innovative pact known as “geringonça,” established in 2015 between socialists, communists, and radical left-wing parties, seemed to be a thing of the past.

However, in a matter of months, stability crumbled when, in November, Prime Minister António Costa, of the PS, resigned after it was announced that he was under investigation for corruption by the Public Prosecutor’s Office. This political turnaround revived the instability that had been left behind, plunging Portugal into a period of political uncertainty.

However, weeks after the resignation, the Public Prosecutor’s Office itself acknowledged its mistake: the accused was not the prime minister, but rather a namesake. The resignation precipitated the anticipation of elections in Portugal, originally scheduled for 2026.

It was in this context that, this Sunday, approximately 10.8 million Portuguese voters returned to the polls.

In Portugal, in legislative elections, votes are cast for a party. The party that receives the majority of votes can gain control of the legislature, provided it reaches a minimum number of seats in Parliament.

These are the leaders of the three main parties in Portugal:

Socialist Party:

Pedro Nuno Santos, 46 years old, is the leader of the Socialists. He is a deputy and has held the position of Minister of Housing and Infrastructure of Portugal. Santos resigned from the government due to two cases that caused controversy in the country: the financial rescue of the airline TAP and a dispute over the location of a new airport in Lisbon. Coming from an affluent family in northern Portugal, Santos briefly drove a Porsche in his youth, but soon sold the car, stating that he did not feel comfortable with it.

Social Democratic Party:

Luis Montenegro, 51 years old, is the leader of the Social Democratic Party (PSD). A lawyer by training, Montenegro has been in Parliament for 16 years. The PSD formed an electoral front, the Democratic Alliance, in collaboration with small center-right parties. In 2017, Montenegro was investigated by the police for suspected receipt of trips to football games paid for by a media company, but the case was later dismissed.


ndré Ventura, 41 years old, is the leader of the far-right party Chega. Although he is not expected to garner enough votes to become prime minister, Ventura’s party can play a crucial role in forming alliances after the elections, aiming to secure a parliamentary majority. Ventura, who was once a lawyer and tax law professor, is also known for his participation as a football commentator on television.

Elections in Portugal take place within the semi-presidential system, where there are figures of the president and the prime minister. On Sunday, voters will go to the polls to choose the deputies of the Assembly of the Republic, the Portuguese Parliament.

In the 2022 elections, the left-wing Socialist Party (PS) won 117 out of 230 seats in Parliament, thus securing an absolute majority to govern without depending on alliances.

However, if an absolute majority is not achieved, the winning party can seek associations with other political parties until reaching the minimum number of seats in Parliament required to form a government. The prime minister can also be appointed from one of these allied parties.

Up until this Sunday’s elections (10), the composition of the Portuguese Parliament was as follows:

  • The Socialist Party held 120 out of 230 seats in the Assembly of the Republic, ensuring the majority.
  • The second-largest bloc was the Social Democratic Party (PSD), with 77 deputies.
  • Chega, as the third force, had 12 deputies.

However, it is important to note that the PSD is now part of the Democratic Alliance, and it is expected that Chega will obtain a significantly larger number of deputies after these elections.

Division of the Assembly of the Republic of Portugal before the election:

  • Socialist Party controls the house
  • Socialist Party (government): 120
  • Social Democratic Party (opposition): 77
  • Chega (opposition): 12
  • Iniciativa Liberal (opposition): 8
  • Partido Comunista Português (opposition): 6
  • Bloco de Esquerda (opposition): 5
  • Independent parliamentarians (opposition): 2
  • Pessoas Animais Natureza (opposition): 1
  • Livre (opposition): 1
  • Socialist Party (government): 120

With a radical discourse, André Ventura, president of the Chega party, explores the theme of corruption in Portugal and addresses issues common to the far-right, such as combating a supposed “gender ideology” and taking a stance against immigration.

Ventura, who was once a football commentator and university professor, almost pursued a religious career as a priest. He often delivers his fiery speeches from pulpits, with the motto “Portugal needs cleansing.”

Ventura’s party has immigrants in the country as one of its main focuses, who currently represent nearly 8% of the population. According to the Portuguese Immigration and Border Service (SEF), the country ended the year with almost 800 thousand immigrants, the majority being Brazilians.

The early elections were called by Portugal’s president, Marcelo de Sousa, last year, after a series of unusual events in the country’s politics.

In November 2023, Portugal’s Public Prosecutor’s Office made public an investigation against then-Prime Minister, António Costa. Costa’s name was linked to an inquiry into an alleged irregular scheme involving the exploitation of lithium and green hydrogen. Faced with this investigation, Costa announced his resignation, denying any involvement in the scheme.

However, weeks later, the Public Prosecutor’s Office acknowledged that Costa had been mistakenly indicted, confused with a namesake. Costa’s resignation had already been accepted by the Portuguese president, Marcelo de Sousa, who acts as head of state in the country, while the prime minister is the head of government. The resignation was filed and published in the Official Gazette.

Before his resignation, Costa was serving his third term, the strongest one yet. In January 2022, after dissolving his “geringonça” government, Costa won the elections with an absolute majority.

Costa was recognized as one of the most stable and experienced government leaders in Europe, and his government was one of the main references for the left on the continent. Costa’s fall altered this scenario and is expected to result in intense negotiations for the formation of a new government after the results of this Sunday’s elections, according to the main projections.

Danielle Berry
Danielle Berry

an editor at MPI since 2023.


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