Latest poll put PS in lead, unless right teams up with CHEGA

PS 26.4%; PSD’s AD alliance 20.8%; CHEGA 16.6%

With PSD MPs ‘switching to CHEGA’ – criticising the party for internal pettiness – the latest opinion poll has shown that in spite of their record PS Socialists continue to lead citizens’ voting intentions for Portugal’s legislative elections on March 10.

The January barometer taken by Intercampus for Correio da Manhã/ CMTV and Jornal de Negócios shows that 26.4% of those queried would vote Socialist, notwithstanding the country’s various ‘crises’.

The centre-right AD alliance (bringing together PSD, CDS, independents and PPM, a party many have never heard of) mustered 20.8%, leading commentators to suggest the alliance has done very little to increase the PSD’s chances. Indeed, there is the interpretation that people’s intentions to vote PSD (not AD) are higher than vice-versa.

CHEGA meantime is growing in popularity, seeing the percentage of people who say they will vote for the party constantly maligned for being ‘extreme right-wing’ to 16.6%.

As Correio da Manhã’s text today explains, the right could manage a slight advantage over any permutation of the left by joining forces with CHEGA, something that up until now PSD leader Luís Montenegro has rejected in no uncertain terms.

The reality is that PS have no qualms of joining forces with any of the smaller parties to create a new kind of ‘geringonça’ (the left wing alliance that snatched victory from defeat in 2015). But, on the basis of this most recent poll, even that would only get the left 41.2% of the nation’s vote, against a possible 42.8% if AD embraced CHEGA and Iniciativa Liberal.

CM stresses that “the data shows that 14.5% of Portuguese are undecided for these elections, but almost everyone (95%) guarantees that they will vote on March 10”.

And this will be the driving factor in the upcoming election campaign: “The key to power is in decoding what will persuade the universe of Portuguese who are currently undecided”, says the paper. “The campaign will be decisive”.

CM adds that this particular poll was taken before the AD congress last weekend, and so “will not incorporate the effects, if any, of the speech by (PSD leader) Luís Montenegro”, which was “praised by the right” (as one would expect in such a congress).

Mr Montenegro’s speech did give a glimpse of the alliance’s manifesto: AD seeks (like the PS) to increase the minimum wage, increase minimum pensions, reduce IRC (business tax) in phases to 15%, reduce IRS contributions for the under-35s, return teachers the salaries ‘frozen’ by previous governments, and use private health providers to tackle health service waiting lists.

But the nuts and bolts of how the alliance means to effect these changes, as well as the full list of AD’s intentions, will have to wait for a few more days.

In fact, Bloco de Esquerda is the only party so far that seems to have nailed its colours to the mast: coordinator Mariana Mortágua announced the party’s electoral programme last weekend. It focuses on social justice, combat of poverty, housing, health, education and salaries. With regard to housing, BE seeks to prohibit the sale of homes to non-residents (with the exception of Portugese emigrés living abroad, foreign residents in Portugal and properties in low density areas); limit AL short-term rentals, end fiscal benefits like NHR and ensure that 25% of all new constructions are for ‘accessible housing’.

BE’s main thrust is to ‘change the labour market’ by introducing a four-day working week (of 35 hours).

Once the manifestos of all parties are available, the Resident will be publishing them.

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