Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa decreed the dissolution of the leftist-dominated Parliament on Sunday, marking the first time since 1974—when the country’s present democratic period began—that Parliament has been dissolved without the government being formally ousted.
The Parliament’s formal dissolution took place two months ahead of the previously-announced snap election, which was initially triggered in October when lawmakers rejected the Socialist minority government’s 2022 budget proposal, Lisbon-based daily Expresso reports.
Although this is the eighth time the Assembly of the Portuguese Republic, a unicameral legislature, has been dissolved since its establishment in April of 1974, it is the first time since the country became a democracy that a budget law had been rejected.
The decision was initiated by parliamentarians from across the political spectrum, with MPs from the Socialist Party, Left Bloc, Portuguese Communist Party, Ecologist Party, Liberal Initiative, Social Democratic Party, People’s Party, and Chega voting against the budget.
Until the general election on January 30th, 2022, the legislative power will lie in the hands of a standing committee of the Assembly of the Republic—a provisional body made up of the president of Parliament, the vice-president, and deputies appointed by all of the parties, according to their respective representation in the chamber.
According to several of the latest opinion polls, the Socialists—the primary coalition partner in the previous government—are anticipated to garner close to 38% of the vote in the election. However, the main opposition party, the liberal-conservative Social Democratic Party, is predicted to receive 24% to 32% of the vote. Perhaps most surprisingly, the national-conservative party Chega—which first entered Parliament in 2019—is expected to become the country’s third-largest party, registering 7% to 10% of the vote in recent polls.
When the dust settles at the end of January, it’s entirely possible that Chega, led by the former jurist and professor André Ventura, could end up assuming the role of ‘kingmaker,’ with as many as 20 of its members sitting in Parliament.
Ventura—who was overwhelmingly re-elected as Chega’s leader in November—recently called on members of his party and those of the centrist conservative Social Democratic Party to put their respective egos aside so that a right-wing government could be formed.