Portugal

For decades, the far right had been relegated to the fringes of Portuguese society. The military coup on April 25, 1974, which kickstarted the Carnation Revolution, overthrew a 48-year-long fascist dictatorship. Most of the electorate then stood on the left or centre-left, and the far-right parties never managed to reach the Parliament despite various attempts and tactical reorganisations.

Everything changed with the 2019 legislative election. For the first time in decades, a far-right party, the recently created Chega headed by André Ventura, managed to elect a parliamentarian. The political crisis lived by the traditional right-wing parties, CDS-PP and PPD-PSD, a product of the Troika austerity measures they implemented in Portugal, which gave way to creating new organisations on the right, like Chega and Iniciativa Liberal.

Current Situation 

Introduction

Introduction

For decades, the far right had been relegated to the fringes of Portuguese society. The military coup on April 25, 1974, which kickstarted the Carnation Revolution, overthrew a 48-year-long fascist dictatorship. Most of the electorate then stood on the left or centre-left, and the far-right parties never managed to reach the Parliament despite various attempts and tactical reorganisations.

Everything changed with the 2019 legislative election. For the first time in decades, a far-right party, the recently created Chega headed by André Ventura, managed to elect a parliamentarian. The political crisis lived by the traditional right-wing parties, CDS-PP and PPD-PSD, a product of the Troika austerity measures they implemented in Portugal, which gave way to creating new organisations on the right, like Chega and Iniciativa Liberal.

At the same time, the media attention received by Chega broke the media isolation that other far-right projects had been confronted with in the past. Hate speech (anti-Romanyism, homophobia and transphobia, racism and xenophobia) started to be normalised in Portuguese society on levels never before seen.

Various polls indicated Chega’s electoral growth, draining CDS-PP, so the right-wing parties started to normalise Chega. It was then presented as just another party inside the democratic system, despite Chega calling itself “anti-system.” The first concrete example of this normalisation came in October 2020, after the regional election in the autonomous region of the Azores.

The socialists (PS) won the election without an absolute majority. To reach a majority and form government, PSD established a parliamentary agreement with Chega for the remainder of the legislature after the latter elected two deputies. This agreement was seen as the first step towards a possible parliamentary agreement on a national level or even a governmental coalition in the next legislature if PSD needs Chega to form a government.

André Ventura and Chega took another important step with the January 2021 presidential elections, earning disproportionate media coverage compared to other presidential candidates. Ventura came third in the elections, even without moderating his positions. He got 12% of the votes, about half a million overall, and came close to his self-established objective: to come second.

Chega continued to radicalise its discourse, and by the middle of 2021, the polls signalled it had more than 6% of the overall voting intentions. In the regional elections of September 2021, the party elected 19 city councillors and 171 municipal deputies. In the January 2022 snap election, Chega gained 7,18% of the votes and went from one to 12 parliamentarians.

A few months after the elections, Chega started one councillor after another. Currently, only 14 councillors remain. The other five councillors left the party due to political differences or were removed for having established an agreement with other parties without support from Chega’s national leadership. Chega has faced challenges captivating political cadres and stabilising its internal political life. Since its foundation, the party led by André Ventura has been in permanent internal upheaval. The party’s leadership, the most centralist in the Portuguese political scene, has responded to internal problems with the suppression of the democratic rights of its members and reinforced the powers of the president, Ventura. The president of Chega has the power to nominate all party candidates, regardless of the electoral act, and to coordinate or dissolve all national or regional political bodies of the party. Despite these contradictions and difficulties, everything indicates that, similar to what happens in most European countries, the extreme right is here to stay.

Status of the far-right in the country

Status of the far-right in the country

Chega’s arrival in Parliament has contributed to the normalisation of hate speech in the public sphere and undermined the principles of Portuguese democracy by creating a political climate prone to far-right, racist violence. The party uses a racist, xenophobic, misogynist, homophobic and transphobic rhetoric, while its agenda is deeply populist, centring on a penal, authoritarian and securitarian political program.

In August 2020, more than two dozen militants of the Resistência Nacional far-right group, since demobilised, organised a protest in front of the headquarters of SOS Racismo, the main anti-racist association in Portugal and one of the usual targets of the far-right. Furthermore, racist and xenophobic graffiti appeared in several schools and faculties, on the walls of the headquarters of SOS Racismo and in several refugee centres. In that same month, a community centre in Lisbon was also the target of a planned attack by three individuals, later identified by the centre’s activists as “neonazis”, something unprecedented in the last decades.

These cases led the European Network Against Racism (ENAR) to issue an alert on the “very worrying increase in racist attacks from the far-right in Portugal”, stressing that anti-racist activists “are not safe” and calling for an “urgent response from the Portuguese authorities”.

The biggest concern in Portugal is, without a doubt, Chega, as it has achieved what the far-right has been trying to achieve for decades. Ergue-te! (“Rise!”, former Partido Nacional Renovador, PNR) was completely overtaken electorally by André Ventura’s party, which led to a worsening of its economic capabilities and a significant reduction in cadres and mobilisation capacity – many of its militants fled to Chega.

The violent far-right (Portugal Hammerskins and Blood & Honor Portugal) remains residual and, following several police operations is currently under siege. In 2016, Portugal Hammerskins were responsible for the consecutive beatings of 18 black people, LBGTQ+ people, and communist militants as part of recruitment rituals. The Polícia Judiciária launched yet another anti-terrorist operation against them. No fewer than 27 members, including their leaders, stand accused of crimes of racial, religious or sexual discrimination, serious offences against physical integrity, incitement to violence, aggravated attempted murder, violent harm, possession of a prohibited weapon, theft, drug trafficking and arms trafficking.

Blood & Honor Portugal has avoided participating in violent actions to avoid attracting the authorities’ attention, organising sporadic music shows in Porto and participating in protests against the restrictions derived from the COVID-19 pandemic. However, they ally themselves with the neo-fascist and identitarian group Escudo Identitário, which has been losing its capacity to mobilise members since 2020.

One of the most recent concerns is the growing sympathy of Portuguese citizens for accelerationist movements on different platforms and social networks. The Annual Report on Internal Security (RASI) for 2021, published in May 2022 and elaborated by security forces and services, confirms this. It is a national trend that follows other countries, such as the United States and Germany. At the same time, the ideological infiltration of the far-right in the security forces (PSP and GNR) is a concern, with several cases of racism and police violence having been made public in recent years, such as when agents of a police station in Alfragide, on the outskirts of Lisbon, tortured five people of colour.

This infiltration, organic or ideological, of the far-right into the security forces is a significant concern. Its most visible face is the Movimento Zero (M0), a semi-clandestine organisation composed of elements of the Public Security Police (PSP), the National Republican Guard (GNR) and the Prison Guard Corps (CGP). M0 was born in 2015 after several PSP agents were accused and convicted of kidnapping and torturing a group of young black men from the Cova da Moura neighbourhood on the outskirts of Lisbon.

M0 takes inspiration from the “Blue Lives Matter” movement and the Spanish JUSAPOL. The movement organises itself through social networks, including Telegram, and expresses itself publicly through announcements and statements. One of its main mottos is “For Portugal, for the police”, and despite advocating for an improvement in the working conditions of the security forces, its main focus is to guarantee that these security forces receive more autonomy and acting power.

This far-right movement takes advantage of bad working conditions to recruit new members and promote its hate speech. Its main political objective is the normalisation of racism and police violence in society, transforming police officers into victims of a corrupt political system and racialised subjects into suspects and aggressors. All recently convicted police officers are sympathisers or members of the M0 or the far-right party Chega.

Status of antifascists in the country

Status of antifascists in the country

The Portuguese far-right has always been considered marginal; therefore, there has never been an autonomous anti-fascist movement with a prolonged existence. This does not mean there were no sporadic demonstrations against the extreme right.

Starting in 2019, with the emergence of Chega, radical-left militants came together to create the Frente Unitária Antifascista (FUA). They organised the biggest antifascist demonstration in recent years against a far-right event in August 2019 in Lisbon. However, due to internal disagreements, the FUA ended up disappearing, and another, even smaller group emerged: the Rede Unitária Antifascista (RUA). It has no mobilisation capacity and does not exceed a few dozen members if so. Militant anti-fascism organised under the Antifa banner is residual in Portugal.

The anti-fascist struggle thus falls on the parties with a parliamentary seat (Bloco de Esquerda, Partido Comunista Português, Livre and PS) in a logic of parliamentary confrontation with Chega. The occasional anti-racist demonstrations or protests for and by migrants, feminists and LGBTI+ have also had an anti-fascist character. The same phenomenon has been observed with the annual demonstrations for the celebration of the 25th of April, which take place all over the country and which have been attracting more and more young people concerned about the growth of the far-right and the naturalisation of hate speech.

Unlike other countries, such as the United Kingdom or Germany, Portugal has no tradition of permanently monitoring the far-right. SOS Racismo assumed this role from the early 1990s until 2010 but stopped doing so due to a lack of resources. From then on, this monitoring work has ceased, except for sporadic journalistic reports, which contribute to ignorance concerning the far-right (its ideological currents, militants and differences between groups) among the progressive camp.

Historic Developments

Historic developments

The military coup on April 25, 1974, shocked supporters of the Estado Novo regime. Caught by surprise, and the Revolution taking the streets, the far right reorganised itself, creating new parties and movements. They ended up outlawed following the ”silent majority” demonstration on September 28, 1974, and the Spinolist coup attempt on March 11, 1975.

Exile and clandestinity were two of the options for far-right militants, and joining extreme right-wing bombing networks was a solution to continue the political struggle. They joined the ranks of the Exército de Libertação de Portugal (ELP), the Movimento Democrático de Libertação de Portugal (MDLP) and Plano Maria da Fonte. They set Portugal on fire, and the left was their target, mainly the militants and the Partido Comunista Português (PCP) headquarters.

However, with the November 25th 1975 coup, the liberal-democratic regime was consolidated, and the political far right was demobilised, although sporadic terrorist attacks continued for a few more years. The CDS, although permeable to far-right infiltration of militants and Estado Novo cadres, was too moderate in their eyes, and Francisco Sá Carneiro’s PPD was seen as too liberal.

Factions of the far-right opted for a new identitarian strategy to establish personal and political ties between youth organisations and right-wing intellectuals so that one day, an independent political alternative could be created. These factions used the celebrations of national holidays such as the 10th of June, “Day of the Race”, and the 1st of December, “Day of Independence”, to approach one another and create connections as other movements emerged, such as the Movimento de Reconstrução Nacional (MIRN), headed by the former General Kaúlza de Arriaga.

Between 1977 and 1985, Portugal witnessed the reorganisation of the far-right, even if it couldn’t break its political and electoral isolation. From then on, this political field was fragmented into numerous groups, like the newsroom staff of political-cultural war magazines or small collectives that managed to mobilise a few dozen people in the streets.

At the beginning of the 21st century, the extreme right reorganised itself again with the formation of the Partido Nacional de Renovador (PNR, now Ergue-te!), Portugal Hammerskins and, later, Blood & Honor Portugal. PNR allied itself with Mário Machado, founder of the Frente Nacional and Portugal Hammerskins, and this union was unfortunate for them.

Boneheads acted as the party’s assault troops, and several police operations in 2006 and 2007 demonstrated how the PNR was, in practice, controlled by neo-Nazis, permanently damaging its image with their electorate. The party never managed to elect deputies in the legislative or European elections it ran, nor leave the fringes of Portuguese politics, being overtaken by Chega in 2019.

Having lost its status as the main far-right party, PNR’s leadership renamed it Ergue-te! (“Rise Up!”). The party is currently experiencing a deep crisis of cadres and militancy and facing an unsustainable debt.

International relationships

International relationships

Even if it was residual for many decades, the truth is that the Portuguese far-right did not stop establishing international relations with other groups and personalities. Portugal Hammerskins is part of the Hammerskins international network and Blood & Honor. In their respective networks, they have close contacts with the Spanish branch.

The neo-fascist Escudo Identitário has relations with the Hogar Social Madrid, with the Italians from CasaPound, on which the group is based, and with the Ukrainian National Corps, the political arm of the Azov Regiment.

More recently, Chega assumed its international connections as one of its main paths to legitimisation. In July 2021, Chega joined the far-right European group Identity and Democracy, although it does not have any MEPs.

During the campaign for the Portuguese presidential elections in 2021, Marine Le Pen, leader of the French União Nacional, landed in Lisbon to show support for her Portuguese counterpart and, later, Matteo Salvini of the Italian Liga, did the same in May 2021. Ventura tried to get closer to the Bolsonaro clan without success so far. In January 2021, the Portuguese far-right party established links with Renan Antônio dos Santos, one of the coordinators of the Movimento Brazil Livre (MBL), responsible for spreading pro-Bolsonaro lies. Antônio dos Santos offered to help Chega on social media campaigns.

In September 2021, Santiago Abascal, leader of the Spanish VOX, participated in one of Chega’s rallies in Lisbon. Despite belonging to the European family of “Identity and Democracy”, Ventura’s party has sought to establish links with all far-right parties with electoral expression in the Global North.

Political Landscape

Political landscape

Chega is the only far-right party with seats in the Portuguese parliament, winning 7.1% of the votes (12 deputies) in the January 2022 election. The party’s consolidation in the Portuguese political system took new steps with the municipal elections of September 2021:  19 councillors were elected (some have since left the party), although the goal of becoming the third national political force has failed. The party also elected 171 municipal deputies and 205 parish council members.

Connections between Chega and extra-parliamentary far-right groups are well-known. Former militants of the Escudo Identitário integrated a list for the then newly formed Juventude do Chega (Chega’s Youth), and Movimento Zero had leaders of the party in its organisation. In fact, at the November 2019 M0 demonstration in front of the Assembly of the Republic, André Ventura, wearing the movement’s t-shirt, was carried in arms to give his speech on a scaffold.

In August 2021, the weekly newspaper Expresso, citing judicial sources, reported that members of Portugal Hammerskins had joined André Ventura’s party. The aim is to use its political force as a broader platform to recruit members for the organisation.

Media Landscape

Media Landscape

There are two key far-right publications in Portugal: the publisher Contra-Corrente (which publishes a theory magazine) and the weekly newspaper O Diabo, with a very small circulation. The publisher mainly publishes historical books on fascism and fascist thought, accelerationist ideologues, and essays on the theory of the great replacement and “gender ideology.” The weekly newspaper focuses on narratives that discredit the democratic political regime.

However, the normalisation of far-right ideas and narratives in and by traditional media is more important than these publications, as they have a very limited reach. In addition to the so-called declarative journalism (news without context consisting of mere statements by André Ventura, for example), there has been a certain promotion of Chega, giving it more importance than it often has.

On April 25 this year, as the country celebrated the 48th anniversary of the end of the Estado Novo dictatorship, CNN Portugal interviewed André Ventura during prime time, with Ventura propagating far-right narratives. Another example is the case of a neo-Nazi militant who went to fight in the Russo-Ukrainian war alongside other neo-Nazis: she was presented as a mere volunteer nurse, also by CNN Portugal.

The daily newspaper I and the weekly SOL share the same newsroom and are two major promoters of Chega and André Ventura. They regularly publish positive news concerning the party and its leader, with the weekly NOVO opting for the same route.

Financial Landscape

Financial landscape

The 2022 legislative elections guaranteed Chega public funding of 4.55 million euros over the next four years of the legislature, guaranteeing the party sufficient means to develop its party activity. Until then, the party depended on a small public subsidy that it started to receive when it elected one deputy in 2019 and on its ability to raise funds from militants or donors external to the party.

Chega promoted several meetings with renowned Portuguese businessmen from various industries like hospitality and tourism, real estate, agriculture and high finance to convince them to fund the party. Journalistic investigations and audits by the Entidade das Contas dos Partidos do Tribunal Constitucional have shown that the party received significant donations from some of the biggest Portuguese bankers and entrepreneurs, which demonstrates that the racist, authoritarian and economically ultra-liberal ideology of the party led by Ventura has the support of the most relevant sectors of the Portuguese economic elite.

The party is also said to have sought international funding from banks owned by oligarchs close to Vladimir Putin. The Russian Federation’s invasion of Ukraine ended up thwarting that plan.

Reports

Quarterly Reports

Quarterly reports give in-depth insights into the most pressing recent social and political developments in each country as they pertain to the local far-right networks and their international allies.

Portugal - January 2023
Portugal - January 2023

The Portuguese far-right party Chega was hit by several blows in the last three months. An investigative piece by the recent Portuguese Consortium of Investigative Journalists uncovered the connections between Chega and a far-right police movement while showing that there is a huge problem of structural racism in the Portuguese police. 
But that wasn’t the only thing setting Chega back. The Constitutional Court rejected the statutes that govern the party’s internal life, saying that the power held by Chega’s leader, André Ventura, was a “serious obstacle to the party’s internal democracy.”
On the other hand, the denialist movement is still alive in Portugal, and Hells Angels are again active in the country. And they came back with a murder.
The hate speech of 591 policemen
This year was marked by a major journalistic investigation into the Portuguese security forces’ hate speech. A team of anonymous digital investigators identified 591 policemen from all over the country making racist, xenophobic, sexist, and homophobic interactions – comments, likes, posts – on Facebook. A lot of these interactions were collected in Facebook groups exclusive to police forces and closed to the public.
The digital investigators shared this database with the Portuguese Consortium of Investigative Journalists, and this story was published on the major Portuguese outlets – SIC, Público, and Expresso – and on a non-profit investigative media platform, Setenta e Quatro.
An analysis made by the Consortium of Investigative Journalists – of more than three thousand images collected by the digital investigators – of the database found that 72% of the almost 600 policemen’s interactions were racist, xenophobic, sexist, and homophobic; 42% made violent threats against politicians, women, minorities and alleged criminals. The policemen demonstrated, likewise, an utmost disrespect towards the rule of law.
The victims of the police racist comments were the Roma community, the African community from the suburbs of Lisbon’s Metropolitan Area, left politicians, Mamadou Ba, a black activist, and Joacine Katar Moreira, a Bissau-Guinea-born former lawmaker. The policemen also threatened to collectively rape Fernanda Câncio, a Portuguese journalist that writes regularly about the police forces.
Another interesting finding of the Consortium of Investigative Journalists was that almost 76% of these policemen were sympathetic to the far-right party Chega and its leader, André Ventura; more than 50% liked movements to the right of Chega, such as the identitarians – and lots of them showed admiration for António de Oliveira Salazar, the Portuguese fascist dictator.
The connections between Chega and Movimento Zero, a police forces movement similar to Blue Lives Matter, were also made clear by the journalists.
This in-depth report confirms the repeated warnings of structural racism in the Portuguese police forces made by the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance, the anti-discrimination body of the Council of Europe.
The reaction of the Portuguese authorities against the numerous reports that show that the Portuguese police have a systemic problem of racism and a connection to far-right ideals, however, has been repeated denial of the problem.
However, because of the scale of the investigative report made by the Consortium of Investigative Journalists, the Portuguese government and the judicial authorities were forced to act – it set the media agenda for several days after the story was published, on the 16th of November.   
Both police forces, Polícia de Segurança Pública and Guarda Nacional Republicana, and the Inspeção Geral da Administração Interna, the disciplinary body that oversees the police, launched an investigation about these racist interactions on Facebook, ordered by the Interior Ministry. The Attorney General’s Office, in turn, also launched an investigation after the publication of the investigative stories.
The Government promised to launch an Observatory against Hate Speech at the beginning of 2020, and after the report, it finally seems that it is going to fulfill that promise before the end of 2022.
The report also triggered a hearing: the Interior Minister and the leaders of IGAI, GNR, and PSP were in Parliament to answer questions from the Portuguese lawmakers about the reports made by the Consortium of Investigative Journalists.   
Every Portuguese party represented in Parliament condemned the behavior of the policemen demonstrated by the journalists, except, of course, CHEGA. The far-right party denied that there was a problem in the Portuguese police and launched an attack against the journalists to try to hurt their credibility. The party’s propaganda paper published a piece about the reporters, supposedly demonstrating their connections to the “far-left”. This piece was reproduced in several foreign far-right outlets (here and here, for example), showing a high degree of European coordination.  
 
Portuguese judge defends neonazi by attacking an anti-racist activist.
On the 27th of October, 2022, judge Carlos Alexandre issued an instructive decision to proceed with a defamation and injury lawsuit filed by neo-Nazi Mário Machado against anti-racist activist Mamadou Ba. To sum it up, the activist of Senegalese origin will go to court early next year for the alleged defamation of the Portuguese most famous white supremacist and former leader of Hammerskins Portugal.  
Mamadou Ba wrote on his Facebook in June 2020 that Mário Machado was “one of the main figures responsible for the murderer of Alcindo Monteiro”. 
Alcindo Monteiro was a 27-year-old Portuguese citizen born in Cape Verde murdered by white supremacists on the night of the 11th of June 1995. The white supremacists were celebrating the 10th of June, the former “Day of the Race,” and beat several black citizens during that night, injuring five and killing Monteiro. Mário Machado was among the nine white nationalists detained that night by the police and was condemned to four years and three months in prison.
While Mário Machado was not the material murderer of Alcindo Monteiro (that was João Martins, the person Mamadou Ba was actually talking about on his Facebook post), the court in 1997 said it clearly: “All the defendants involved in each of the aggressions against the victims described above acted in concerted efforts, wanting to achieve the physical integrity and lives of the victims, as they were black, which they achieved.”
Mário Machado has been a famous far-right personality since then and has captured sensationalist attention from the mainstream media. He was the leader of Frente Nacional (National Front), the armed arm of the fascist party Partido Nacional Renovador (PNR), and the neo-nazi organization Nova Ordem Social (New Social Order). Machado has been indicted for crimes of racial discrimination, aggression, kidnapping, and illegal possession of weapons.  
Mamadou Ba, on the other hand, is the favorite target of far-right attacks and insults. After doing his Ph.D. in Canada, nowadays, Mamadou Ba has been one of the faces of the anti-racist struggle in Portugal for the last 15 years, being the spokesperson for the association SOS Racismo, created in the 1990s. Mamadou had to live under police protection a couple of years ago because of the racist threats he received. 
Judge Carlos Alexandre, in turn, has been widely proclaimed by the far-right because of his involvement in corruption cases highly covered by the media, like the prosecution of José Sócrates, Portugal’s former center-left prime minister. Alexandre has a similar populist judicial posture to Sergio Moro, the Brazilian judge of the Lava Jato case who ended up occupying the Justice Ministry of Jair Bolsonaro’s administration. The CHEGA’s leader, for example, has flirted with the possibility of Alexandre being the party’s candidate for the Presidency of the Republic. There are also several far-right Facebook pages dedicated exclusively to supporting the judge, some managed by PNR officials. Carlos Alexandre, who sometimes gives interviews, has never condemned such pages. 
When Carlos Alexandre announced the decision to proceed with the defamation and injury lawsuit filed by Mário Machado against Mamadou Ba, he wrote that the anti-racist activist could not “substitute itself for the courts and invoke the right to freedom of expression.” And stated: “Can a person carry an anathema all his life, imputing to him the participation, in any capacity, in a homicide, whose deed has already been introduced in court and object of a thorough judgment and with the judgment of the supreme court of justice, where he is acquitted of this specific crime, but condemned by another? And call that freedom of speech?”
This decision was even weirder if we take into account that the Attorney General’s Office accused Mário Machado of incitement to hatred and violence and also of illegal weapon possession a few days before the 27th of October. 
 
The restrictive pandemic measures are gone, but the denialist movement is still here.
The Portuguese government has ended all measures to contain the covid-19 pandemic. Wearing a mask is not compulsory anymore, except in health installations or nursing homes. It is not required to get any kind of test to get in restaurants or night places, nor even in cases of infection with the “new” coronavirus the citizens have any kind of restriction. The times when the daily reports dominated media attention are also long gone. Covid-19 has been treated as any other infectious disease by the Portuguese state and almost everyone in Portuguese society.
Almost everyone, but not everyone. The covid deniers movement essentially united around the extra-parliamentary party Alternativa Democrática Nacional (National Democratic Alternative, ADN), whose leader is Bruno Fialho, and the association Habeas Corpus, run by the former judge Rui Fonseca Castro, remains active. It organizes meetings with dozens of people from north to south of the country, including in the Azores and Madeira autonomous regions. In the intricacies of these groups, there are also very small groups: Cidadania XXI and Associação 21-26.
Riding on the constitutional review opened by the Assembly of the Republic, the denialists organized demonstrations once again in the city of Lisbon. What’s at stake are the bids to introduce in the Constitution of the Portuguese Republic the possibility to order a lockdown without a state of emergency, proposed by the Socialist Party (PS, center-left), which has an absolute majority in parliament, and the Social Democratic Party (PSD, center-right). If these proposals get a two-thirds majority in parliament (necessary for a constitutional review), to which the favorable votes of PS and the PSD would be enough, the isolation or internment of patients would be possible. 
The denialists saw this proposal as the confirmation of their conspiracy theories: the covid-19 pandemic is a farce to cover up to establish a sanitary dictatorship. It was with that certainty that they demonstrated on the night of the 11th of November in front of a hotel in Marquês de Pombal, where PSD’s highest officials were meeting to approve the party’s constitutional review project. The protest gathered a little more than a hundred protestors, and their posters said, “who falls asleep in democracy awakes in a dictatorship” or “perfect democracy has the appearance of a democracy.”  
The night would not end at the door of this hotel in the heart of the Portuguese capital. Just a few meters away, the Socialist party political commission was meeting with a similar purpose. After the protest near the social-democratic meeting, the demonstrators moved to Largo do Rato, where the headquarters of the Socialist party, the ruling party, is located. This shift to the PS’s headquarters opened room for the Portuguese denialists to question the prime minister, António Costa, and to deliver to him a document where they accuse the constitutional review project of his party of “destroying the cornerstones of the separation of powers.”
The party leaderships of both parties seem to be a bit sensitized to the denialist’s command words. The Assembly of the Republic will start discussing changes to the constitutional reviews proposed by the parliamentary parties.
Denialists worry Portuguese police and secret services.
The Portuguese police and secret services have attentively monitored the denialists groups since the former head of the Assembly of the Republic, the socialist António Ferro Rodrigues, was the target of several insults by the covid deniers after exiting a restaurant near parliament with his wife in September of 2021.
In August of the same year, the admiral Gouveia e Melo, the main person responsible for covid-19 vaccination, was also the target of insults and was even pushed several times by a group of denialists at the door of a vaccination center in Odivelas, in the outskirts of Lisbon.
The Portuguese security forces strengthened the safety of the covid deniers’ main targets, which include political representatives, also health professionals, and members of the vaccination coordination teams.
In the yearly security report published in May of 2022, the Portuguese security services raise a red flag. The report says there is a growing rapprochement between far-right movements of neonazi inspiration and the denialist movement and points to the radicalization of their “speech and action,” extending “the scope of their struggle based on conspiracy theories, and searching for international partners, passing from a protest movement to a movement against the system .”
 
Hells Angels’ Motard that is a defendant in the case of the attack against Los Bandidos was found dead in Algarve.
The 35 years-old members of the motard gang Hells Angels Motorcycle Club, Rui Silva, was found dead by the Guarda Nacional Republicana on the 4th of December of this year in the mountain range São Brás de Alportel, in Algarve. 
Rui Silva was stabbed several times in the neck and shot in the head once. The Portuguese authorities suspect it was an execution to settle a reckoning between Hells Angels members. The Judiciary Police says the body was found a few days after there was higher movement than usual of foreign Hells Angels members in the region.
The victim was one of the 89 Hells Angels members detained on the 18th of June after this motard gang group invaded a restaurant in Prior Velho, Loures, on the outskirts of Lisbon, where the neonazi Mário Machado was reunited with Los Bandidos members (Machado was part of this group back then). 
The “Hells Angels” entered through the front door of the restaurant, destroying tables and chairs and violently beating the rivals of “Los Bandidos”: six were injured, and three were hospitalized, among them a vice-president of “Los Bandidos” from Germany.
The “Hells Angels trial,” in which gang members are accused of hundreds of crimes, including criminal association, attempted murder, illegal possession of a firearm, extortion, and drug trafficking, is still on trial under tight measures of security. Rui Silva was one of the defendants, having been in custody for a while.
Prior to his alleged murder, he was under house arrest with an electronic bracelet awaiting trial in another case in which he was accused of theft and robbery by the Attorney General’s Office.
 
Constitutional Court rejects the statutes of Chega and forces the party to convene a new congress.
This November, the Constitutional Court rejected Chega’s statutes for the second time, forcing the far-right party to convene a new Congress.
In Portugal, the Constitutional Court verifies if the statutes which govern the parties’ internal life are in accordance with the constitutional principles of the country. All amendments, therefore, must be validated by the court. 
The changes approved in Evora’s Congress in 2020, the last time the party convened before Viseu’s Congress in 2021, were rejected by the judges for procedural reasons: the main meeting of the party was convened without the changes to the internal rules of Chega being included in the Agenda. But this time, the decision was different and more severe. The Constitutional Court understood that the changes approved in Viseu violate Portugal’s fundamental law. 
In the judgment, the court accused the statutes of excessively concentrating the power in the party’s president’s hands. Among these excessive powers of the president of the party enumerated by the judges was the possibility to choose the composition of “an important set of internal bodies”; the “huge range of competencies” held by the president, including the nomination of all candidates for the Assembly of the Republic or the Presidency of the Republic; and the power to “immediately suspend or cease the functions of any national body or any of its members.” This is, in the opinion of the judges, a “serious obstacle to the party’s internal democracy.” 
The Constitutional Court also censured the “extension of the prohibition of registration” of members of the far-right party “in associations and bodies directly or indirectly associated with another party or dependent on it.” In the opinion of the judges, the “interpretive range” of this statutory provision includes “the prohibition of belonging to associations without any political-partisan character,” therefore clearly unconstitutional.
The judges also point the finger at the fact that the changes promoted at the last congress of the party forced members to moderate their “verbal and written language in private and in public.” “It results in a restriction on the fundamental rights of militants,” such as “free expression of thought,” the court explains.
Chega has a new congress to adopt the party’s statutes to the Constitution of the Portuguese Republic scheduled for January 2023. It may be that the third time’s a charm.

Portugal - June 2022
Portugal - June 2022

Far-right narratives (“great substitution/replacement”, “gender ideology”, and transphobia, etc.) continue to gain prominence in Portuguese society, either through the publication of opinion pieces in traditional media or through multi-platform media campaigns.
This is a direct consequence of Chega’s rise from one to 12 deputies in the Portuguese parliament. Their ideas and policy proposals continue the normalization of far-right narratives in public spaces. At the same time, we see a clear radicalization of certain sectors of the Portuguese traditional right.
The classic, violent far-right remains marginal. As has become customary, Ergue-te!Escudo Identitário and other smaller far-right groups celebrated the 10th of June, the Day of Portugal, Camões and Portuguese Communities. For these groups, it is known as the Day of the Race, as it was called during the days of the fascist dictatorship. They celebrated it with a gathering in Belém, a historical neighbourhood connected deeply with the history of the Portuguese “Discoveries” in the outskirts of Lisbon, and later on with another gathering at Largo de Camões, in the heart of the capital. A few dozen people were present to hear the speeches.
 
Updated in the national landscape
A possible alliance (coalition, parliamentary agreement) between PSD, the main centre-right party, and Chega has long been a strategic issue for the Portuguese right. Only alongside Chega can the traditional right return to the government while, at the same time, normalizing the extreme right. PSD’s new leadership, headed by Luís Montenegro, opted for an ambivalent position. On the one hand, he claims he will not make any alliances with a racist and xenophobic party. On the other hand, he praises the governance in the Azores, where Chega in the regional parliament supports PSD’s regional government.
Montenegro was elected at the end of last May and is still busy reorganizing PSD. In addition, PSD’s president does not have a seat in parliament, which allows André Ventura, Chega’s leader, to become the protagonist of the media spectacle of confrontation and opposition towards the socialist prime minister, António Costa. However, Chega has opted for another strategy: presenting unconstitutional bills (such as increasing the prison sentence for murder to 65 years, violating the 25-year limit stipulated by the Constitution) and clashing with the President of Assembly of the Republic, Augusto Santos Silva. This strategy aims to delegitimize the democratic institutions and give Chega all the media attention possible.
At the end of a plenary meeting during which Ventura and Augusto Santos Silva got into a verbal confrontation, the parliamentary leader of Chega, Pedro Pinto, threatened an advisor to the Socialist Party with physical violence. It was not an isolated case. That same day, an advisor from the far-right party questioned a journalist from RTP, Portugal’s public television company, about his news coverage. The Portuguese Union of Journalists then warned of Chega’s repeated aggressive attitudes towards journalists in a public statement. In early June, Chega’s deputy Pedro Frazão almost started a physical confrontation with PSD’s deputy André Coelho Lima in the halls of the parliament.
The civil war inside Chega shows no signs of settling down. An example is the loss of several elected officials in September 2021. The far-right party elected 19 councillors, but by mid-July, it had already lost a third of those (six out of 19) as a result of internal quarrels.
Chega has also tried to strengthen its international relations, especially with the European far-right group Identity & Democracy, which is already preparing for the 2024 European elections. Ventura participated in an I&D conference in Antwerp on the 23rd of June.
After the conference, the far-right leader gave a brief interview to the French identitarian media outlet Breizh-Info, known for spreading far-right disinformation and conspiracy theories. The connection between Chega and the identitarian far-right is not new. For example, in the first moments of the creation of Juventude Chega (the party’s youth organization), one of the lists up for election was composed of elements that had actively participated in the neo-fascist Escudo Identirário.
With regard to the war in Ukraine, the Russian Ministry of Defense revealed in mid-June that the Russian forces had killed 19 Portuguese mercenaries and that 103 Portuguese had arrived in Ukraine without giving further details. The motives of these Portuguese are unknown, but the Portuguese Ministry of Foreign Affairs was quick to deny these claims, saying that only seven Portuguese citizens registered to be in Ukraine, of which four had already returned to Portugal.
 
Transnational Developments on Discourse in Mainstream Media
Following the international trend, the Portuguese far-right adopted the “gender ideology” narrative to go against feminists and LGBTI+ people. Although in the past, this narrative was secluded to the fringes of far-right discourse, in recent months, it has been increasingly normalized in mainstream discourse through the publication of opinion pieces in right-wing media, such as the digital newspaper Observador and the weekly Nascer do Sol.
One of these political campaigns in the media was based on the refusal by two ultra-conservative parents, members of the Opus Dei, of having two of their five children attend mandatory classes on the subject of “Citizenship and Development” in schools, where gender equality and sexual education, among other things such has political systems or fiscality, are taught. This situation has dragged on for years, as it began with their eldest son, now 17 years old, and continued this past month with the other, aged 14. The two boys technically failed their year by not showing up to these classes, and their parents filed a lawsuit against the Ministry of Education. The far-right has used this case to stir debates on the powers of the State, homeschooling and, significantly, to normalize the narrative of “gender ideology”.
A noteworthy development was the publication of an opinion article defending the theory of the Great Replacement by french author Renaud Camus in the digital newspaper Observador. Often accused of propagating far-right narratives in its opinion columns, it was the first time this news outlet published a text defending this conspiracy theory.
Transnational Social Media Activity & Propaganda/Narratives
The more marginal far-right propaganda and its narratives have continued to focus more on the Portuguese reality, replicating racist narratives of increasing crime numbers, misinformation about a supposed “gender ideology” focusing on trans people and warning about the allegedly ongoing “great replacement”. This is the case of the Telegram channels O Bom Europeu (The Good European) and Invictus Portucale.
Força Nova, a group with ties to the Italian Fuorza Nuova, has continued to spread similar narratives but also propaganda in support of its Italian counterparts, namely their statements. One interesting development was the publication of a poster for a Oi! punk show which will take place in Porto on November 5, 2022. The show will be organized by Blood & Honor Portugal, and the bands will come from France (Fraction), Hungary (Archigum) and Italy (Katastrof and Hobbit).

Portugal - May 2022
Portugal - May 2022

Since Russia invaded Ukraine, Chega has limited itself significantly to silence. They condemned the invasion but said little more, primarily because of the close connections with Marine Le Pen, from the French Front National and Matteo Salvini, from the Italian Liga. The latter have both received money from Russia.
But the silence was broken. Chega came back, meanwhile, with a proposal (already rejected by the Parliament) to take the legalization of euthanasia to a national referendum (given that the majority of the parties approved, in the legislative branch, a bill that would legalize it) and with the desire of reintroducing the illegalization of abortion into the public debate. The far-right party brings attention to these themes because they’re the ones that make it stand out to the right-wing electorate.
A significant development on the right was the election of Luís Montenegro for president of PSD, the main party of the Portuguese right. His election is seen as yet another sign that PSD might come to ally with Chega, so it could eventually become government. Chega has stated they would accept a coalition with PSD.
Chega’s leader, André Ventura, has been having problems with the law. The parliament approved, on June 3rd, the removal of his parliamentary immunity so he can be judged for a dinner rally organized during the state of emergency put in effect during the covid-19 pandemic. Ventura will be judged along with two of Chega’s leaders, Rui Paulo Sousa, national representative of his presidential candidacy, and Filipe Melo, president of the Braga regional branch, for the crime of disobedience. The second process comes after a defamation charge by Bloco de Esquerda parliamentarian Mariana Mortágua.
Despite Chega’s silence, the normalization of the far-right took new steps in Portuguese society in the last three months. Notorious neonazi Mário Machado was able to pierce the media isolation by announcing he would go to Ukraine in order to fight the Russians. A court lifted his probation measures, under which he was obliged to present himself at a police headquarters every two weeks as a result of a judicial process for racial discrimination so that he could travel to Ukraine. The neonazi returned a week later, but he reached his goal: to break with the medial isolation and try to regain his long-lost credibility among the far right.
Meanwhile, another neonazi, close to Mário Machado, Ana Cristina Cardoso, travelled to and remains in Ukraine, fighting among the nazi ranks. Machado has shared the photos she took in his Telegram channel, which he has been using to spread anticommunist propaganda and to encourage the destruction of Communist Party headquarters throughout the country (the PCP has been under heavy criticism for its positions concerning the war in Ukraine). The media, in this case, CNN Portugal, reported on Ana Cristina, calling her simply “a nurse”. No more known far-right Portuguese militants are fighting in Ukraine.
For the first time, the Annual Report on Internal Security (RASI) for 2021, made by the security forces and services, underlined the introduction of accelerationist movements in virtual spaces visited by Portuguese citizens. It wasn’t the first time official documents referred to accelerationism: the Council of Fiscalization of Information Services (CFSI) alerted in 2020 for the “entrance” of these ideas in far-right spaces. The recognition of such tendencies by Portuguese authorities follows a European tendency, as was apparent in Europol’s annual report, published in December 2021.
An example of that was the arrest of a 17-year-old boy for “zoombombing”. The Polícia Judiciária said the young man declared himself a neonazi and had contacts with the National Partisan Movement, an inorganic accelerationist neonazi network.
The Portuguese far-right has taken several stances on the war in Ukraine. Chega kept their silence, with one of their most well-known and cartoonish figures, Maria Vieira, siding with Vladimir Putin; a part of the identitarian sector, grounded on the Contra-Corrente published, supported the theses of Alexander Dugin; and a third stance was the case of Força Nova, who lamented the war, seeing it a fratricide between two white nations.
All of them tried to exploit the increasing anticommunist sentiment in Portuguese society, especially on social networks. For example, the neonazi Mário Machado instigated his followers to send him photos of vandalized communist headquarters. They did so, and it made the news, and Machado boasted about it on his Telegram channel.
In terms of international connection, Força Nova must be highlighted. Its leader, Alexandre Santos (a former member of Resistência Nacional), participated, on the 7th of May, in a nationalist conference called Forum de La Lation et de L’Europe, developing some previously established contacts – he has travelled to Italy (Rome) and Spain (Madrid) in the last few months.

Analysis

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