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Right-wing Chega poised to tip teetering Socialist ‘balance’ in Azores

Right-wing party Chega is poised to tip the teetering Socialist balance in the Azores. After 24 years in which PS Socialists have run the regional government, plans are afoot to turn last week’s fragile election result ‘upside down’ – very much as PS Socialists did on the mainland in 2015 when the centre-right ‘technically’ won the elections, but with no working majority.

Says Expresso “half the work” on what newspapers are calling the ‘geringonça’ (contraption) of the right is done: the PSD is ready to close agreement with the CDS and PPM for a three-pronged coalition headed up by the party’s Azorean figurehead José Manuel Bolieiro. But to get the strength the coalition would need to ‘guarantee stability’ further pacts will be needed with PAN, Iniciativa Liberal and Chega.

Among Chega’s aims for society is the chemical castration of pedophiles, forced labour for prisoners, progressive reduction of income tax, and the limiting of posts for prime minister and President of the Republic to ‘people born in Portugal’.

They may be hard to stomach by many but have resonated with a considerable number of voters. 

Chega already has one ‘dynamic’ MP in Lisbon (André Ventura) and now has two in the Azores. 

PAN and Iniciativa Liberal only have one each in both places – hence Chega’s sudden key element of clout.

For now, ‘negotiations are ongoing’. CDS (3 MPs) and PAN have rejected outright the idea of a government that supports Chega’s non-PC objectives – but all these parties by their very nature are keen on the idea of ‘power’.

Ventura however has said there is no requirement for a PSD-led coalition in the Azores to take on any of Chega’s ambitions. The party will nonetheless give such a coalition its support (in order to get rid of the Socialists).

Thus the PS also is trying to get as many minority stragglers onside that it can.

The Socialists currently have 25 seats in the regional government, buoyed up by two more won by Bloco de Esquerda. To have an absolute majority they need two more. 

It’s a tense time of political juggling that needs to be settled, one way or the other, by November 9.

It’s also indication of what is happening ‘nationally’. Público today says for the first time since the elections, polls are showing citizens’ voting intentions swinging to the right: “the Aximage barometer shows the Socialists are now getting less support than the PSD, CDS, Chega and Iniciativa Liberal together”, says the paper.

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