Authoritarian Populism Index.

The Authoritarian Populism Index is developed by Timbro.

Timbro is the leading free market think tank in the Nordic countries. Our mission is to promote and disseminate ideas supporting the principles of free markets, free enterprise, individual liberty and a free society. Timbro was founded in 1978 by Sture Eskilsson and the Swedish Employers’ Association, a precursor to the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise.  Since 2003, Timbro is financed by the Swedish Free Enterprise Foundation.


International outreach and translation supported by Friedrich Naumann Foundation and Atlas Network.


Populism Rank: 28


Voter support for radical left in last elections (2022): -2.6%.
Voter support for radical right in last elections: +5,6%.
Populist or radical parties in government (March 2024): none
Number of radical or populist MEP:s (2019): 4/20

01 Speakers

Since the end of the dictatorship and the first democratic elections in 1975, Portugal has had a relatively stable party system with few relevant parties. The centre-left Socialist Party (PS) and the centre-right Social Democratic Party (PSD) have alternated as the biggest party in every election. No other party has yet held the prime minister post. The support for anti-systemic parties has been modest until the beginning of the 2020s.

To the left, PS has been challenged by several more radical alternatives. The Portuguese Communist Party (PCP) dates back to 1921. It has been among the strongest communist parties in Western Europe, often reaching over ten percent of the votes. Since 1987, they have been in an permanent electoral alliance (Unitary Democratic Alliance) with a small ecologist party (PEV). Between 2015-19, the PCP supported a PS government through a confidence-and-supply agreement.


PCP is a orthodox communist party, still faithful to marxist principles and symbols (the hammer and the sickle remains in the party logo), as well as traditional Leninist ideas of the party’s role in society. Its internal organisation still resembles the old communist party structure, complete with a central committee. The PCP used to be strongly eurosceptic but it has softened its position on the EU in recent years. It is the only party in Portugal that did not condemn the Russian invasion of Ukraine, instead just like the Kremlin calling it a “special operation” and blaming Nato and the West for the war. On social issues, the PCP used to be quite conservative, but it has moderated its positions on many issues.


Another left wing coalition, the Left Bloc (BE) was formed in 1999 by several small Leninist, maoist and trotskyist parties. Despite its heritage, the BE has developed in a clear democratic and progressive direction. It is today a democratic socialist party. It has abandoned most of its anti-establishment rhetoric and is neither anti-systemic nor eurosceptic.


For a long time, Portugal remained one of few countries in Europe without a successful radical right party, widely interpreted as a reflection of how the legacy of the fascist dictatorship made right wing extremism taboo in the country. That changed in 2019 when the newly formed Chega! (Enough!) entered parliament. Three years later, they increased their support to 7 percent in the parliamentary election. 


Chega was formed as late as 2019 and is a national conservative party with clear populist traits. It has focused on fighting crime and corruption, in addition to being opposed to immigration and multiculturalism. Corruption was one of Chega’s main issues in the election campaign in 2024, with a slogan that read: “such high taxes to finance corruption”.

André Ventura, party leader of Chega!

Additionally, the party is, of course, opposed to immigration, generally sceptical of the EU, and focused on crime, for which they demand much tougher measures (a membership vote a few years ago narrowly rejected the reinstatement of the death penalty). Party leader André Ventura, who previously commented on football on TV, is strongly critical of Islam and Roma people, and the party is against restitutions for former Portuguese colonies. Consequently, the party is often accused of racism and antiziganism. In particular, concern has been raised regarding the extremism within the party’s youth movement. Anti-racist demonstrations have been organised (against which Chega itself has organised counter-demonstrations with the theme “there is no racism in Portugal”).


The party is conservative on social issues. The party leader, André Ventura, has said that he personally is opposed to abortion as well as bull fighting, while not aiming to outlaw either. It has campaigned against mixed-gender bathrooms in schools. Chega is also softly eurosceptic.


Economically, the party is far to the right, with a strict fiscal conservatism. Chega wants a greatly reduced state with essentially abolished redistribution. In the presidential campaign 2023, Ventura said he did not aspire to be president for “all Portuguese” but only “the good Portuguese.” This excluded not only criminals but also welfare recipients (who are often equated with Roma in rhetoric). However, in the campaign for the March 2024 elections, Chega promised higher salaries, increased minimum wage and pensions and better conditions for workers while also cutting taxes.


The Portuguese right is divided on whether to cooperate with the populists or not. The PSD has been reluctant towards cooperation with Chega: “As a matter of principle, the PSD will never make a political agreement with someone who has policies, opinions, which are often xenophobic, racist, populist, excessively demagogic,” PSD-Leander Montenegro told Chega leader Ventura in a televised debate in February 2024.

The minor coalition partners of PSD, the conservative CDS, are however in favour of forming a coalition. There is also a media debate on whether it is racist to, as former socialist Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho did in the election campaign, link increased immigration with insecurity.

EP elections

Number of authoritarian or populist MEP:s (2019): 4/20


PCP has won between 2-3 seats in every EP election in Portugal. It has always been a member of the Communist/GUE group, currently holding two seats. BE is also a part of the GUE group.


Portugal has never had representation in any of the far right groups. Chega is however set to join the ID group if they win representation in the June 2024 elections, which seems highly likely.

PCP summary

Economics: LEFT
Social issues: MODERATE
Democratic credibility: LOW

CHEGA! summary

Economics: RIGHT
Social issues: CONSERVATIVE
Democratic credibility: LOW