Portugal election: What a PSD win would mean for Boris Johnson as centre-right makes gains

Portugal's parliament rejects Costa's draft budget in 2021

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Portugal’s incumbent government, led by Socialist Party prime minister António Costa, is searching for a new mandate after a devastating defeat in the country’s parliament. Mr Costa failed to secure support from a bloc of left-wing parties in the Assembly of the Republic to pass his 2022 budget, which outlined how he aimed to spend $50 billion of EU funds. President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa called a snap election, and Mr Costa now faces off against a party that bears more in common with the UK’s Conservatives.

What would a Social Democratic Party win mean for Boris Johnson?

The incumbent socialists have run the Portuguese government since 2015, with Mr Costa now in his second term.

Over the last few years, his fragile minority administration has run on support from two other left-wing parties.

The Left Bloc and the Portuguese Communist Party had facilitated his rule until recently when they refused to support his 2022 budget.

Now, a fractured left has provided the country’s right-wing with a path to power.

Despite carrying a comfortable majority in early polls, Mr Costa has rapidly lost ground to the Portuguese centre-right.

The Social Democratic Party (PSD), according to recent polling, is now ahead of them.

One poll of nearly 1,000 Portuguese residents by Aximage Comunicação e Imagem Lda found they have obtained a slim lead.

Of the 965 people they interviewed, 34.5 percent said they would vote for the PSD.

The support puts them 0.7 percent ahead of the socialists, who are in second place on 33.8 precent.

As the primary centre-right presence in Portugal, on the surface, it would appear that PSD leader Rui Rio is the closest Mr Johnson would have to an ally in the country.

But the Prime Minister, who is most famous for backing the Brexit campaign, is politically far removed from his would-be Portuguese counterpart.

Mr Rio is socially to the left of his party and sponsors more centrist policymaking.

He has vocally supported abortion rights and policies even the British left-wing would oppose.

Mr Rio has declared his support for euthanasia and limited cannabis legalisation, specifically for medicinal purposes.

He has also worked with Mr Costa’s leadership to strengthen Portugal’s connection with the EU.

In April 2018, the pair agreed to create a 12-year strategy to keep EU structural funds invested in national development.

In reality, policy-wise, the British Conservatives are closest to Portugal’s sneaking hard-right party Chega.

Portuguese politician and former sports pundit Andre Ventura founded the party in April 2019 and entered the Assembly of the Republic for Lisbon in October.

The party’s manifesto for the latest round of voting is nationalist and social conservative and primarily advocates for reduced state intervention, harsher punishment for criminals, and benefit reduction.

Analysts have also described the party’s stance on the EU as Eurosceptic, and it has previously advocated for a Europe of sovereign nations.

They advocate for a bloc united by religious principles and minimal interference from the bloc in local politics.

Like the Conservatives, Chega has previously objected to the bloc’s migrant and refugee quotas.

At present, it is the third most popular party in the country, but at eight percent according to the Aximage Comunicação e Imagem Lda; unlikely to gain power.

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