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What happens now?

The results are out. President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa is in. And we're all waiting to find out what he decides.

The Portuguese Constitution instructs the President to appoint a new Government on the basis of the election results.

With 226 of the 230 parliamentary seats already allocated following the Sunday's snap elections, this Tuesday the President of the Republic begins to hear, at the rate of one per day, the parties and coalitions that won parliamentary representation, in ascending order of votes based on the provisional results.

Here's the calendar:

  • March 12, 5pm – Pessoas-Animais-Natureza (PAN)

  • March 13, 5pm – Livre

  • March 14, 5pm – Coligação Democrática Unitária (CDU)

  • March 15, 5pm – Bloco de Esquerda (BE)

  • March 15, 7pm – Iniciativa Liberal (IL)

  • March 18, 5pm – CHEGA

  • March 19, 4pm – Partido Socialista (PS)

  • March 20, 5pm – Aliança Democrática (AD)

March 20 is also the day that we will finally know the results in the electoral circles abroad. So, on March 20, we will know who won the most votes and seats in the 2024 general elections. If there are significant changes to the current parliamentary landscape, there are reports that the President will hear the PS again. If not, everything goes ahead as usual.

The National Electoral Commission must then draw up and publish an official map of the results in the Diário da República within 8 days. This means March 28.

Within this period, the President should then invite one of the party leaders to form a Government and take over as Prime Minister. If everything stays the same, the new Prime Minister will be Luís Montenegro and the first plenary session of the XVI Legislature could already happen in the last week of March.

However, March 29 is a national holiday (Good Friday) and two days later it is Easter Sunday, so it's likely that the President will wait until the following week to swear in the Government.

After the government's swearing in, the Prime Minister has 10 days to present his programme to Parliament, which will discuss it but might not vote it. Even if it did, it would be approved because both Pedro Nuno Santos and André Ventura from CHEGA have said they would not block it.

Meanwhile, the Communists have already said that they will present a motion of no-confidence against the new government. This is also likely to fail for the same reasons.

However, after that point, the Government will be on its own because no party has accepted to support AD approve legislation. Both the Liberals and CHEGA have said that they would decide this on a case-by-case basis, which puts the Government in an extremely shaky position.

If not before, the matter is likely to come to a head during the 2025 budget negotiations, which will take place between the end of October and November. If the Government cannot form a working majority in Parliament to approve the budget, it will likely fall and Portugal will be heading to new elections a year from now (or maybe earlier).

There is, however, a slim chance that the AD can push through its first budget and then somehow survive until the summer. After this, it will be out of the woods because the Constitution rules general elections six months before a Presidential election takes place, and President Marcelo's comes to an end in January 2026.

So. Exciting times ahead.

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