Portugal threatens EU stability with threat of far-right election Chega | World | New
Political analyst Carlos Jalali has warned that Portugal’s January 24 presidential election could see the new, anti-establishment Chega party provoke an upheaval similar to that of Donald Trump. He said the small far-right party could benefit from the support of “timid voters” amid growing public discontent. If Chega were to become a “dominant force” in the country’s political landscape after this weekend’s poll, the result could see further instability shake the European Union.
Mr Jalai told Euronews that there was “latent discontent and Chega is starting to reflect it, although the party represents only 1% of the electorate”.
He continued: “In the current context, it seems highly unlikely that Chega can become a dominant force in the political system in Portugal.
“It will be interesting to see if there is this shy voter effect, just like what happened with Trump’s presidential election in 2016.”
Chega’s sudden rise has already caused a shock wave in Portuguese politics, with opinion polls predicting the party candidate André Ventura will win up to 11 percent of the popular vote.
JUST IN: European Commission changes retirement age rules to give Barnier a job on Brexit
Portugal took over the presidency of the European Council this week from Germany and will remain in place until June.
Brussels is on track to take on the Spanish government over a dispute that could see Madrid cut pensions in exchange for supporting the Covid rescue.
There are fears that fierce opposition to reforms in Spain may be the first in a series of clashes between the European Union and its central and southern European member states, which are the main beneficiaries of the cash for the coronavirus.
The £ 665 billion recovery plan has been welcomed by cash-strapped member states such as Spain and Italy, both of which have been hit hard by the pandemic.
But the money comes with a catch: before they can get any money from the recovery fund, EU governments must prepare plans on how to spend it under the guidance of the Commission.
READ MORE: EU ‘superstate’ plot finally revealed as new post-Brexit lines erupt
Countries that fail to implement reforms agreed with the European Commission could see future Covid recovery fund payments withheld – Spain is expected to receive £ 124 billion spread over the next six years.
An EU diplomat said: “It’s not just about investments in the economy – it’s about reforms needed to ensure that all of us in Europe can better handle the next crisis.”
Member states are due to submit final drafts of their so-called recovery and resilience plans by April, setting out both their demand for EU funds and proposals for investment and economic reform.
EU Trade Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis, one of the EU’s executive vice-presidents, said disbursements from the Covid stimulus fund would be contingent upon reaching “specific and measurable milestones” and that “it remains” a lot of work to do ”.