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Portugal election: Centre-right ahead as far-right party Chega makes gains

Portugal election: Centre-right ahead as far-right party Chega makes gains

Portugal's centre-right Democratic Alliance was poised to finish first in Sunday's parliamentary election, according to the early results, but short of an outright majority.

It suggests tough negotiations ahead with the far-right which made huge gains in the vote.

The populist, far-right Chega party came third with over 19% of the vote, almost tripling its result in the last election in early 2022, when it won 7.2%.

The Democratic Alliance (AD) garnered around 31.5% of votes with over 70% of ballots counted, while the incumbent leftwing Socialist Party (PS) had earned just under 29%.

“It's the end of the two-party system," Chega leader Andre Ventura told reporters, referring to the Socialist Party and the Social Democratic Party (PSD), which leads the newly-created AD.

The two have alternated in power since the end of a fascist dictatorship five decades ago.

Social Democrat leader Luis Montenegro, who likely would become prime minister if his alliance wins, ruled out during campaigning the possibility of teaming up with Chega, some of whose policy proposals are unpalatable for many Portuguese.

But if Mr Montenegro is unable to assemble a majority government, his hand could be forced, leaving Chega as a kingmaker.

Chega leader Andre Ventura, a former law professor and television soccer pundit, has said he is prepared to drop some of his party's most controversial proposals — such as chemical castration for some sex offenders and the introduction of life prison sentences — if that enables his party's inclusion in a possible governing alliance with other right-of-center parties.

Turnout was over 63% in the early tally, up sharply from the 51.5% recorded in the 2022 election.

Sunday's ballot was triggered by Socialist Prime Minister Antonio Costa's resignation amid a corruption investigation four months ago.

Issues dominating the campaign included a crippling housing crisis, low wages, sagging healthcare, and corruption, seen by many as endemic to the mainstream parties.