André Ventura had 496 653 votes in the presidential elections, a third place in the candidate ranking and 11.90% of the votes. The Chega leader never hid that these elections were meant to fuel his party. The objective of “crushing the left” failed, because it stayed behind Ana Gomes, but gained support for the idea that a reconfiguration to the right is underway. The next stage is the municipal elections in October 2021. Chega has no local authority and this will be the next challenge: gaining muscle on the ground.
André Ventura explained what is at stake to the magazine Olá: «If Chega already has some local impact or if he lives on the figure of a leader, which is bad». In other words: it will be the first fight for a party that was born in 2019 and elected, in the first legislative elections, its leader as the only deputy. Regarding municipalities, winning mandates in Alentejo, where Ventura had a good score in the presidential elections, will be one of the priorities. What about names? Ventura left a compliment to Hernâni Carvalho, a journalist, who was already an independent candidate in 2009 to Odivelas with the support of the PSD.
Asked by Nascer do SOL, in which municipality he would like to see the journalist as a candidate with the support of Chega, Ventura replied: «Eventually in Lisbon, but I never talked to him about it».
The presidential result provoked a frenzy on the right, with the PSD immediately announcing, through the voice of David Justino, that «with this Chega it is impossible to talk». And he said it the day after the elections. This was the first reaction of the Social Democratic leadership to Ventura’s phrase on the election night: “There are no duplicates after this night.
Today [domingo] it was clear in Portugal and for Europe and the world that there will be no government in Portugal without Chega being a fundamental part. There is no turning back. PSD, listen well, there will be no government in Portugal without Chega! »
Two days later, it was the turn of Rui Rio, president of the PSD, to say of his justice: «Chega, to have conversations with the PSD, has to moderate. Chega has not moderated, there is no conversation at all ».
Warning Signs in PSD
This statement came after a meeting with the leader of the CDS, Francisco Rodrigues dos Santos, to settle needles on local coalitions. Rio recalled that with Chega there will be no agreements. «This agreement will not say that there are only coalitions with the CDS and with no one else. (…) The only issue on which we are in agreement is that there will not be with Chega but, apart from Chega, it will soon be seen ”, explained Rui Rio, alongside Francisco Rodrigues dos Santos, who subscribed to the idea.
The same applies to legislatures for both parties. In other words, a kind of ‘health fence’ was clear to Chega when it comes to pre-electoral understandings.
Ventura has already answered: «What does the PSD mean by moderating? It means that I abandon most of my flags. And what happens next to this electorate? Imagine that from today to tomorrow I stop talking about justice, penalties, the castration of pedophiles, the reform of the tax system. This is what the PSD wants », shot Chega’s only deputy. Now, for André Ventura, the PSD «wants Chega to become a new CDS».
Ventura accused the PSD and CDS of “political bullying” for imposing the exclusion of Chega in the right-wing municipal agreements.
«Now, if a party like Chega has a base in the Azores in support of the PSD, we cannot have another reasoning at work here or in other elections», warned Ventura, yesterday, in Parliament, leaving a veiled threat about the breach of agreement in the Azores to support the PSD Regional Government.
In the PSD, Ventura’s results were seen as a warning sign that it is necessary to win back the electorate. And among social democrats, there are those who point the finger at Rio for the speech he made on the electoral night, when he highlighted Ventura’s results in Alentejo, in lands where the PCP has good local authority. Pedro Rodrigues, PSD deputy, pointed out Rio’s “bankruptcy of leadership”, with evident signs of reconfiguration on the right.
Carlos Carreiras, mayor of Cascais, preferred to highlight that he won the candidate he supported, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa. Furthermore, the result of the head of state «came to demonstrate that extremist and radical candidacies, both on the left and on the right, had a result below what they had in mind. In the case of André Ventura, it is increasingly considered a protest vote, ”he declared to Nascer do SOL. In short, the vote in Ventura was for those who “wanted to protest against the system and voted for that party, but in no way fidelity to the local elections”. However, he considers that “the right has an obligation to reflect on the growth of Chega”.
Guilherme Silva already considered at Nascer do SOL that the growth of André Ventura “is done at the expense of the PSD and CDS electorate”. Therefore, “it is necessary to understand what are the causes to avoid the decrease. Rui Rio has to rethink the strategy and prevent this space from growing at the expense of the PSD ».
Who also left serious internal warnings to the PSD and to the right was Paulo Rangel. The main face of the PSD in Brussels (which has already said no to Rui Rio for an autonomous candidacy in Porto) considered that, for now, the vote in Ventura was a protest. But it can become systemic. “For the PSD and the CDS, the risks of protest votes turning to structural and systemic voting must be taken seriously,” he wrote in Público.