Eleven days after the early parliamentary elections in Portugal, President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa appointed the conservative politician Luís Montenegro as the new head of government. The presidential office in Lisbon announced this early in the morning.

Montenegro’s conservative alliance AD ​​received the most votes in the election on Sunday a week ago and narrowly trumped the Socialists, who have been in power for eight years, but clearly missed a parliamentary majority.

Montenegro said it would present its government team to the president on March 28. “The inauguration will be on April 2nd,” Montenegro added on state TV channel RTP.

However, after counting all votes, including those from abroad, the conservatives only got 80 of the 230 seats in parliament, as the central electoral commission announced. The socialist PS lost a total of 42 seats compared to the 2022 election and only has 78 members.

Governing will likely be difficult

The big winner of the election was André Ventura from the right-wing populist party Chega, which more than quadrupled the number of its seats. Since Montenegro has branded Chega a “xenophobic” and “racist” party and has repeatedly refused to cooperate with the populists, governing is likely to be very difficult for him.

Ventura again called on Montenegro to co-govern with him. The comprehensive parliamentary majority of AD and Chega together should not be “wasted because of ego or arrogance,” the newspaper “Público” quoted him as saying.

As Prime Minister, he must now present his government program to Parliament. If he is unlikely to receive a majority for this, another new election would become more likely. Things will get really serious when Montenegro has to pass a draft budget through parliament. A “grand coalition” between conservatives and socialists is considered impossible in Portugal. Similar to neighboring Spain, the two main parties are actually divided by insurmountable differences.