The Socialists of incumbent Prime Minister Antonio Costa won the Portuguese legislative elections without obtaining an absolute majority, according to the nearly complete tallies.
The 58-year-old former mayor of Lisbon won 36.65 percent of the vote and will have at least 106 seats out of 230 in parliament, up from 86 in 2015. The Socialists are thus far ahead of their main opponents in the centre-right Social Democratic Party (PSD), which took 27.9 percent of the vote and 77 seats, down from 89 previously.
The extreme right made its first electoral breakthrough with Chega-the so-called “Portuguese Vox” – winning a seat, ending Portugal’s status as the only country in southern Europe without a far right presence in its Parliament.
Despite the rise in its vote share, the Socialist still fall short of an overall majority, meaning they will probably be forced him to form alliances in a Parliament largely dominated by the left.
The Left Bloc, which retained the 19 parliamentary seats it won in 2015, and the unreconstructed Portuguese Communist party, which won 12 seats, five fewer than four years ago, said they were prepared to back the Socialists again on condition that they increase wages, commit to greater public spending and an improvement in labour laws.
Alternatively, Costa could seek a tie-up with the People-Animals-Nature party, which has seen its support rise on the back of increased environmental concerns to capture four parliamentary seats, reports the BBC.
Costa’s minority government has been praised in Brussels for combining fiscal discipline with measures to promote growth after suffering a severe recession and debt crisis between 2008-2014.
Since then the country’s economy has grown above the EU average, while cuts to public sector wages and pensions have been reversed.
While the far left has been calling for more investment in public services, Mr. Costa is expected to renew his commitment to stick to euro-zone budget rules.