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The centre-right party wins a close election in Portugal as the far-right party surges


First, in eight years, the centre-right Social Democrat-led Democratic Alliance defeated the Socialist Party, but they had little chance of forming a majority.


Portugal's political future is uncertain after a Sunday general election. An unprecedented surge in support for a populist party that finished third left the two moderate mainstream parties without a majority. 


After counting all votes in Portugal, the centre-right Social Democrat-led Democratic Alliance won 79 seats in the 230-seat National Assembly.


After eight years in power, the centre-left Socialist Party won 77 seats.


After a suspenseful election night, foreign voters will decide the final four parliamentary seats. The votes may need to be counted over two weeks.


The hard-right Chega (Enough) party placed third with 48 seats, a historic result that challenged politics as usual and showed a rightward shift in the EU.


In an election with a 66% turnout, the highest in Portugal in years, smaller parties won the rest.


The moderate Social Democrats and Socialists have alternated in power in Portugal for decades, but the rise of a radical right party signalled a political shift and likely political uncertainty.


A minority government with fewer than 116 MPs must rely on opposition parties to pass legislation. Chega's support could help the Social Democrats form a government.


Chega, five years old, tripled its vote in 2022. As a kingmaker, the party could give the Social Democrats a parliamentary majority.


Despite mainstream parties' efforts, Chega must be addressed.


"One thing is for sure tonight: the two-party system in Portugal is finished," said Chega leader Andre Ventura.


He said the Social Democrats should join Chega in parliament to form a majority. He said, "We have a mandate to govern.


However, Social Democrat leader Luis Montenegro, who would likely become prime minister if his alliance wins, said he would keep his campaign promise to shut out Chega and refuse to negotiate power-sharing with populists. He planned to form a government alone.


Ventura, a former law professor and television soccer pundit, is willing to drop some of his party's most controversial proposals, such as chemical castration for some sex offenders and life prison sentences, if it helps his party form a governing alliance with other right-of-centre parties.


However, his support for national sovereignty over EU integration and his plan to allow police to strike could derail his government coalition bid.


Anti-corruption was Chega's campaign theme. After eight years as prime minister, António Costa resigned in November amid a corruption investigation involving his chief of staff, prompting the early election. Costa hasn't been charged.


That seemed to hurt Socialists in the election.


Public dissatisfaction with politics-as-usual began before graft outcries. Low wages, a high cost of living, a housing crisis, and general healthcare failures caused dissatisfaction, which was worsened last year by inflation and interest rates.


Chega has caused more discontent.


Lisbon-based 55-year-old financial manager Sonia Ferreira called the vote "decisive" because the continent must stop hard-right parties.


We are seeing very extremist movements across the EU, and we must all be cautious», she said.


The resignation of two Social Democrats' top officials in a graft scandal embarrassed them before the campaign.


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