Picture credit: Horacio Villalobos - Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images)

Portugal must be more than an EU vassal

As elections approach, can Portugal break the stultifying hold of a progressive, big state worldview?

Artillery Row

As right-wing populists surge across Europe, there are some countries that are resisting this trend. Britain looks as if it is about to elect Keir Starmer, and the Left also look set to win upcoming elections in Portugal in March. 

Ever since Portugal became a democracy in 1974 the Left have dominated elections, and with the recent resignation of Socialist Prime Minister Antonio Costa amid a green energy corruption scandal, a troubling reality has been exposed. Odd as it may seem despite the scandal, a renewed left-wing victory is seemingly inevitable in Portugal. 

For starters, Portugal has an influential Communist Party, unashamedly promoting its red flag and terror symbols, casting a dark shadow on the nation’s democratic ethos. The spectacle of Lisbon draped in red to commemorate the party’s centennial in 2021 was a stark reminder of its nefarious influence, especially when it even found a place supporting a minority Left-wing government as recently two years ago and might, God forbid, once again come to power in 2024.

The EU, through its cohesion funds and a network of regulations, has played a pivotal role in cementing Portugal’s anti-free market philosophy

On the Socialist front, following Costa’s departure, a newly elected leader has emerged: The former Infrastructure Minister, Pedro Nuno Santos, an ideological zealot and a left-wing populist in the style of Jeremy Corbyn. Yet unlike in Britain, Portugal has formed a political consensus that favours Corbynist ideas. 

Santos advocates for welfare programmes that make vast numbers of people dependent on state-handouts. This growing reliance has obscured the nation’s traditional culture, initially anchored in the principles of freedom, subsidiarity, and Christian values.

The socialist consensus is so powerful that even the Social Democrats, often identified as Portugal’s centre-right party, share a striking resemblance with the Socialists. This convergence has led Portugal’s political pendulum to swing so far left that even ostensibly right-wing parties now endorse public companies and state intervention. 

The EU, through its cohesion funds and a network of regulations, has played a pivotal role in cementing Portugal’s anti-free market philosophy. Portugal has a proud history, equally as proud as Britain’s; Portugal invented the compass, astrolabe, and caravels to create one the most prominent Christian empires. And yet now we are an EU vassal state. 

Amid these challenges, hope arises as younger generations are distancing themselves from the status quo and traditional media, seeking real change and embracing ideologies resonant with tradition, liberty and individual freedom. Novel parties signal a wave of new conservatism, championing values of family, nation, free markets, and freedom of speech. Notably, in pre-election polls the populist and right wing parties Chega and IL parties are now at 20% in total. The tide is turning, though perhaps too slowly and too late. 

As the nation hurtles toward another election, Portugal approaches a crossroads, facing 50 years of left-wing policies with a limited spectrum of political alternatives. The convergence of political, economic, and regulatory forces, coupled with the left’s dominance and appeasement of European regulations, poses a real threat to the nation’s identity and economic viability.

As elections loom, a stark divide emerges: state dependent citizens clinging to socialism, hindering progress, while a younger, educated, and proud generation aims to break free. These citizens aspire to cast votes that pave the way for a new trajectory, one upholding democracy and sovereignty, steering Portugal toward a brighter future.

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