“They think they are voting against the system, but end up reinforcing the worst that the system has to offer”: in Portugal, the worrying trivialization of the far right

“They think they are voting against the system, but end up reinforcing the worst that the system has to offer”: in Portugal, the worrying trivialization of the far right
“They think they are voting against the system, but end up reinforcing the worst that the system has to offer”: in Portugal, the worrying trivialization of the far right

Lisbon, Evora (Portugal), special correspondent.

Along Republic Avenue in Lisbon, political parties, both left and right, are displayed in large format. No allusion to the European elections, only vestiges of the campaign of March 10. The left bloc asserts, with the famous photo of the revolution (in black and white tinted with red) in support, that “ April 25 is on the streets “. “ Don’t vote for the past », appears to respond to Liberal Initiative (right), while swearing about the advantages that liberal countries would offer to workers with an illustration inspired by the socialist realist style!

Enough to lose your bearings, if you have any at all. “ I’m going to vote for him : we need a new revolution! » indicates Miguel, 27, pointing to the enormous portrait of the leader of Chega, who is however not a candidate. “ His party is the only one that wants to protect the Portuguese and improve the lives of young people. There is too much unemployment, all my friends want to leave the country », assures this Lisboe who says he can barely get by by multiplying odd jobs.

A strong rejection of elected officials and parties

A few weeks before the June 9 election, the possibility of seeing the far-right Chega (Enough) party repeat the incredible breakthrough of the early legislative elections of March 10 concerns many progressive activists in Portugal. By obtaining 18% of the vote, the party founded in 2019 by former member of the Social Democratic Party (PSD, right) André Ventura had made a frightening leap, going from 12 deputies to 50, thus establishing itself as the third force politics of the country.

While everything indicates that the next elections will see a rise of the far right in many countries of the European Union, there is little chance that the homeland of José Saramago, which has long been believed to be “vaccinated” against fascist ideas, this time stands as an exception. Having failed to elect any MEP in 2019, Ventura hopes to obtain this year “ a historic result » which would promote “ a grand European (far-right) coalition, from Hungary to Lisbon » (Observador, March 25, 2024).

Have Portuguese voters turned their backs on the values ​​resulting from the captains’ uprising of 1974? “ Not at all, Avril is more alive than ever! » Sandro almost protests. Retired from the transport sector, he proudly wears a red carnation in his buttonhole, like many Lisbon residents to mark their attachment to the celebrations of the 50th anniversary of the revolution and the end of the fascist regime established by António Salazar. Setpoint ” April 25: always/fascism never again! “, chanted by activists of all ages still resonates in the streets of Lisbon.

The first results of a study revealed at the end of April prove him right: according to the Higher Institute of Social and Political Sciences of the University of Lisbon, the majority of the population would judge the legacy of April 25, 1974 positively. second part of this study, published more recently by the daily Publicproduces new elements: a very high membership rate “ with populist ideas “, as well as a very strong rejection of elected officials and political parties, widely accused of ” corrupted “.

A winning combination for the anti-elite and anti-system positions that Chega has made a specialty of, whether in his speeches or in his communication on social networks. “ We may have lost the battle of ideasadmits Sandro. Today, people and especially young people reduce the April 25 revolution to the achievement of freedom and democracy. However, it was much more than that: the social struggles and conquests are just as important, but this part of history is not transmitted to new generations. The fight against fascism, even less. »

Chega attracts young people

Very present on social networks, André Ventura’s party knows how to appeal to young people: 25% of voters aged 18 to 34 supported it last March. “ Left-wing parties do not use social media; the PS is only for old people “, explains Catarina. “ Chega offers solutions; they are false but at least they speak to young people », continues this history student at the New University of Lisbon, who does not yet know which left-wing party she will vote for.

Well aware that the far-right party bases its popularity on a speech “ terribly demagogic “, she admits to having been able to establish itself in the media landscape as a disruptive force. “ It’s the perfect trap for young people who have no political culture, their anti-system positions are just a facade, but it works “, she laments.

Further on, on Avenue de Berne, Mathilde is active at the entrance to the campus with signs to denounce the exploitation of fossil fuels. “ I’m progressive, but frankly, I don’t feel represented by any party », she confides, criticizing that on the left no one puts environmental issues at the heart of their political project. She knows she will vote on June 9 – “ For to block the far right and because women fought so that I could vote » –, but she has not yet decided on a political color.

The only certainty for this future anthropologist: she will participate in the national mobilization of youth for the climate in Lisbon, the day before the election. “ All the current problems that favor the rise of Chega arise from the ecological crisis », assures Mathilde, citing among other things climatic migrations and unemployment in the countryside. “ Look at what happened in Alentejo (southern part of the country, agricultural region – Editor’s note), with the droughts. Before, the Communist Party (PCP) was very strong there, now people vote for the extreme right », she concludes.

We can doubt the cause and effect link put forward by the student, but in the district of Évora, the most populous in Alentejo, the results of the latest legislative elections are revealing. With 11% of the votes, no communist deputy elected but a socialist candidate (33%), a representative of the right-wing coalition (22.5%) and for the first time a “cheguist”, elected with 20% of the votes.

A risk of extreme right-wing of society

The city of Évora, the capital of the region, is a red bastion. More than ten years since the communist Carlos Pinto de Sá has ruled the fortified city with cobbled streets and whitewashed walls. At the bus station, visitors are greeted by campaign slogans of the United Democratic Coalition (CDU, made up of the PCP and the environmentalist Green Party) and by posters promoting the upcoming Avante Festival (Ahead !, the newspaper of the Communist Party, founded in 1931). I am a native of the country, I have always voted CDU! » boasts Fernando, who is not a member of the PCP but a proud descendant of a “family very close to communist activism”.

The occupation of land and the fight against large landowners, agricultural cooperatives and “collective production units”, the agrarian reform initiated in 1974, terms which resonate in the imagination of this 35-year-old industrial engineer, keen of history and converted into tourism.

At the roundabout at Porte d’Aviz, a medieval entrance already six centuries old, a long sign bearing the Socialist Party logo invokes the red carnations of the revolution to praise these ” 50 years of freedom “. “ Market freedom? » quips Fernando. He is angry with the PS for having rolled out the red carpet for the far right: in “ usurping » the label of a left-wing party, while he pursued a liberal policy in power.

Far from solving the problems of the majority of the population, “ they only created bitterness “. Beyond the European elections, it is the risk of the extreme right of political life that concerns him, in the context of probable legislative news between now and the end of the year, the local elections of 2025 and the presidential elections of 2026.

An anti-system label that appeals

The PSD sees its executives moving towards Chega. The right will have no other choice but to harden its positions, whether out of ideological affinity or simply out of fear of seeing too large a portion of its voters sucked in.”he predicts.

Moreover, André Ventura announced a new deal with a former PSD deputy who will be in second position on the European list. “ In the end, Chega’s role is to take over from the PS and the PSD to continue to pursue neoliberal policies, but under a new face.according to Fernando for whom the anti-capitalist left – inaudible on television and on social networks – is struggling to find the right solution to “convince the disappointed and awaken the abstainers”and will pay the price on June 9.

The left has become too conformist », assures Bento, who runs a bookstore on rue Serpa-Pinto. This committed sixty-year-old, given the selection of books highlighted in the window, believes that “this has led to the field of protest being occupied by the extreme right, and (to) young people falling into the trap.” Bento claims to be part of a generation that is not afraid of the fascists and recounts having been to “front row seats to singGrândola, Vila Morena” facing Chega activists” came to Évora to hold their national convention in 2020.

But he does not want to label all the voters of this party as “xenophobic” or “racist”, even less young people. “ They think they are voting against the system, but end up reinforcing the worst that the system has to offer. » A few meters away, a “1143” graffitied on a white wall marks the passage of an activist from this small neo-Nazi group. The tag was covered with red carnations, painted with a stencil. All that remains is to transform the scarlet flower into a ballot paper.


We were unable to confirm your registration.


Your registration is confirmed.

-

-

PREV United Kingdom. Teenager arrested on suspicion of attempted murder at school
NEXT Dortmund – PSG TV broadcast: find out which channel to watch the match live on this Wednesday evening