Portugal’s political parties unite to (try and) stymy right-wing André Ventura’s election strategy

An across board selection of political parties has united today to try and stop the election strategy of right-wing Chega’s one and only MP André Ventura.

Ventura is contesting the upcoming presidential elections next month, after a year in which Chega has made some extraordinary ‘gains’ (click here)

It’s largely seen that Ventura/ Chega is hoping to consolidate on those gains and lure more ‘centre right’ voters to the cause before municipal elections scheduled for the summer.

To that end, Ventura has asked to ‘suspend’ his parliamentary mandate – while he contests the presidential elections – and substitute his presence in parliament with Chega’s ‘No. 2’.

He told Lusa early today that he was “confident” he would get what he wanted – and has been “satisfied” by a recent poll that puts him in 3rd position vis-a-vis voting intentions, only just behind Ana Gomes and a very long way behind President Marcelo.

No-one imagines President Marcelo will be ‘beaten’ – but equally unimaginable is for a right-wing candidate to come second in a country still haunted by decades of fascist dictatorship.

Thus PS (whose leader António Costa has dubbed Chega ‘the worst party that exists in Europe’), PSD (which doesn’t want to lose any more voters to Chega than it already has), Bloco de Esquerda (which loathes the right) and PCP communists (ditto) voted together today to ensure Ventura didn’t get an easy ride.

CDS-PP MP João Almeida had presented an ‘opinion’ (‘parecer’) in favour of Ventura’s requests. This was supported by PAN and two PS MPs.

What comes next will be have to be a new ‘opinion’, this time formulated by PS Socialists.

As Público explains, bearing in mind ‘the position assumed today’, it looks more than likely that the PS will come out against.

Where that leaves Ventura is debatable: he will go on promoting himself for president. Chega will simply have no voice in parliament for the next few weeks.

It’s more than likely that André Ventura will reap political ‘benefit’ whatever happens. He has said in the past that if Ana Gomes polls more votes than he does, he will resign. But then he ‘guaranteed’ months ago that if he ran for president, he wouldn’t suspend his parliamentary mandate…

As reports explain, under the statute for members of parliament, a parliamentary mandate can only be suspended in the case of a serious illness, for maternity or paternity leave, or because of judicial proceedings. However the law governing presidential elections allows candidates to be excused from their ‘respective functions, whether public or private’.

It is also possible that André Ventura might tackle this ‘setback’ by appealing to the Constitutional Court.

UPDATE Tuesday

The MP for Chega has announced his intention to appeal first to the Supreme Administrative Tribunal (forcing Socialist Ferro Rodrigues, as leader of parliament to make a decision on the rights or wrongs of this situation).

He has also intimated that he will appeal also to the Constitutional Court.

In the meantime, PS MP Pedro Delgado Alves has been tasked with coming up with the second ‘opinion’ on Ventura’s requests (to be voted on in parliamentary commission next Tuesday) saying that the situation could easily be dealt with through the parliamentary regime of ‘justified absences’.

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