Portugal’s Political Divisions Mar Election of President of Parliament; Governing Challenges Loom for New Prime Minister Luis Montenegro

Portugal’s Parliament Speaker Election Ends in Failure

The election of the President of Parliament in Portugal faced a third unsuccessful attempt on March 10th, highlighting deep political divisions in the newly elected “Assembleia da República.” Despite all candidates failing to secure the necessary absolute majority of 116 votes, even in the final round of voting, MPs will reconvene on Wednesday to try again, with parties nominating new candidates. This situation sets a challenging tone for the new Prime Minister of Portugal, Luis Montenegro, who leads the conservative alliance Democratic Alliance (AD).

At the constitutive meeting in Lisbon, Montenegro’s candidate for President of Parliament, José Pedro Aguiar-Branco, came in second with 88 votes, trailing behind Francisco Assis of the Socialist Party PS who received 90 votes. However, despite his party winning the most seats in the recent election and narrowly defeating long-standing socialists, Montenegro assumed his role as Prime Minister without any support from Chega, a right-wing populist party led by André Ventura. Chega won over 50 seats and added complexity to governing.

Given the unlikelihood of a “grand coalition” between conservatives and socialists and Montenegro’s refusal to collaborate with Chega, governing is expected to be challenging. If Montenegro fails to secure a majority in the upcoming parliamentary vote on his government program, another election may loom. As Montenegro prepares to present his cabinet on Thursday and officially take office on April 2nd, Portugal’s political landscape remains uncertain.

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