By Len Port
Leaders of European far-right parties gathered in Lisbon at the end of the week to show solidarity with Portugal’s Chega Party that hopes to win the snap election in March next year.
Chega’s leader, Andre Ventura, welcomed his counterparts, including France’s Marine Le Pen. The gathering celebrated the surprise gains by Geert Wilder’s far-right party in the Dutch general election a few days earlier.
Chega, third in Portugal’s dissolved parliament, is hopeful of taking over from the long-standing Socialist Party, currently disgraced by a corruption investigation.
Chega, meaning “enough”, is a national conservative party, formed by Ventura in 2019, that has been gaining much support ever since.
Similar parties are the strongest, or gaining strength, in Switzerland Italy, Greece, Hungry, Poland, Finland, Sweden, Serbia and Spain.
The move to the far-right has included a convergence with centre-right groups. This has involved national coalitions as well as shifts within the European Union – and it looks set to continue.
It is expected to change major policies in Brussels after the EU election in less than a year from now. For example, it could press for an eastward expansion of the EU in the continent, and maybe a change in trading arrangements with China.
A predominantly far-right European Council would have a different attitude to the United States should Donald Trump be re-elected president.
The most concerning problem for far-rightists in Europe is mass immigration from Africa.
Results in next year’s election in Portugal, and even before that in other EU countries, are sure to play a key role in the way Europe progresses in the next few years with illegal immigration.
What Portugal and all other countries in Europe want to stop is an unmanageable number of immigrants entering illegally, especially by human traffickers. Greece and Italy have been inundated this year. The problem continues to move westward confronting marine and other authorities in Spain and Portugal.
In contrast, the number of Portuguese citizens going to live in the United Kingdom fell by 41% in the 12 months to September this year, according to official statistics published by the British government.
Portugal wants its useful citizens back from the UK and elsewhere, including the United States. A support program is in place until at least the end of this year to financially help emigrants and their families returning from abroad who want to find jobs for themselves or set up companies.
The arrangement includes citizens who left Portugal between the end of 2015 and started working in this country before the end of this year. It is not yet clear, but it seems very possible this deadline will be extended.
Len Port, born in Northern Ireland, worked as a news reporter and correspondent, mainly in Hong Kong and South Africa, before moving to Portugal many years ago.