Portugal, technical draw: what now?


After the technical parity in the results between left and right, Portugal can now enter a few weeks of uncertainty. The question of who will be the head of government and whether he will have the necessary majority so that the Assembly of the Republic does not overthrow him could last a few weeks. Always in the event that the centre-right candidate, Lus Montenegro, keeps his commitment not to make agreements with Chega’s radical right.

The Assembly of the Republic will be constituted only at the end of March or the beginning of April, when the 230 deputies will have been elected (the last four, elected by Portuguese residents abroad, will be known on 28 March). From then on, President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa will begin consultations with all parties represented to explore the nomination of the next prime minister.

The Portuguese Constitution confers broad powers on the head of state -more than those the King has in Spain-. Rebelo de Sousa will be able to appoint the prime minister who, in his opinion, will have greater parliamentary support, but he will do so with a large degree of autonomy.

Once appointed, as established by Article 192 of the Constitution, the Prime Minister will have a maximum of 10 days to present his government program to Parliament: the Assembly of the Republic is the only legislative chamber of the Portuguese State. At that time, the Legislature will have the option to reject the program by a supermajority – thus overthrowing the government – ​​or to let it continue, although probably in a minority.

The next few weeks will be fundamental in being able to forge alliances. The most likely minority prime minister will be Lus Montenegro, who could ask for the Socialist Party (PS) or Chega to abstain, depending on the price each will make him pay.

Should he fail to avoid the Assembly’s rejection, the government would fall and Rebelo de Sousa would likely appoint a caretaker prime minister with the sole objective of holding elections again within six months, as Portugal’s Magna Carta provides that a At least six months pass from the beginning of the new legislature before returning to the polls. In the latter case, of maximum instability, the elections would probably be held at the end of the year.

The director of Political Context of LLYC Portugal and former parliamentary leader of the CDS-PP, Nuno Magalhes, considers it more likely that the Chamber will let the new Portuguese government take office, both with the abstention of the left and the right. From that moment on, the new minority Executive will have to work hard to carry forward every initiative of the Assembly of the Republic.

Sectors of the PSD and the other two parties that make up the centre-right Democratic Alliance coalition are in favor of seeking an agreement between AD and Chega. The leader of the radical right, André Ventura, is betting on directly entering the government with ministries, which Montenegro seems very difficult to accept given the explicit and firm rejection he supported throughout the electoral campaign of the possibility of an agreement with Chega. .

Another possibility is a minimum agreement with the PS so that it does not overthrow the legislature and does not force elections that no one wants. In this second case, Montenegro could be prime minister, but its weakness would be greater since it would be at the mercy of the Socialist Party, which will not make it easy for it to govern, and of Chega, which will not hesitate to form parliament and will be ungovernable if the leader of AD will decide to maintain the sanitary cordon that you said to extend around them.