Ricardo Regalla Dias Pinto, Portugal's Chega party's André Ventura's Chief of Staff
Ricardo Regalla Dias Pinto, Portugal's Chega party's André Ventura's Chief of Staff

Chega! – The Key to Portugal’s Next Government?

Portugal will hold general elections on March 10, 2024. Portugal has been governed by the Socialist Party (PS from now on) since 2015. PS has always relied on minority parties to gain power, such as the Bloco de Esquerda (BE), the Portuguese Communist Party (PCP) and the Greens (PEV).
However, Antonio Costa, prime minister of Portugal since 2015, resigned on November 7, 2023 after being embroiled in an investigation related to influence peddling, corruption and prevarication in energy projects.
This prompted Portugal’s president, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, to call early elections for March 10, 2024, just two years after the last elections.
Chega! (Enough!) gained wider attention in 2019, as those were the first national elections in which they ran, although their results were very bad getting only one deputy. However, in 2022 they gave the surprise and managed to be the third most voted-for party in Portugal getting 12 seats.
In the 2024 legislative elections, Chega may be the key to a new government in Portugal. Most polls place Chega as the party that will grow the most, placing it around an expected 20 percent share of the votes to be cast. That is why we decided to interview Ricardo Regalla Dias Pinto, the right-hand man of André Ventura, the party’s leader.
Regallo Dias Pinto is André Ventura’s Chief of Staff and director of International Relations, Public Relations and Protocol of Chega.

What is Chega! and why was it born?

CHEGA! (Enough!) is a political party that was born out of a resounding “cry” of indignation from its founder and president, André Ventura, in response to the deplorable state to which Portugal has sunk.

This has been evident at various levels, particularly in relation to corruption, which has reached scandalous proportions, and the failure or lack of political will, from the parties that have been in power since the beginning of the 3rd republic, to combat it.

It is crucial to understand that in a country where the GDP is around 125 billion euros, experiencing an average annual loss of about 20 billion euros due to corruption, along with equally significant wastage in several ministries stemming from a simple lack of management capacity, is unacceptable.

To illustrate my point, the Ministry of Health alone wasted around 3 billion euros last year. This is occurring in a country where chaos reigns within the National Health Service, all at the expense of an entirely unreasonable tax burden on the working citizens.

What can you tell us about the main measures Chega! proposes for Portugal?

CHEGA! intends to implement a comprehensive range of reforms, including many structural changes. These reforms aim to achieve a more efficient and expeditious justice system, reduce the direct and indirect tax burden, and equalize the lower pensions of the elderly to the value of the minimum wage within 6 years.

Another significant measure involves empowering the authority and restoring the dignity of the police forces, as well as dignifying medical and teaching careers.

It is also considered essential to eliminate the ideological influence that socialism has imposed on education and to prioritize meritocracy over the so-called “wokism.”

These are just a few of the priority measures that the CHEGA! party aims to implement as part of a broader plan for transformation over the course of two legislative terms, spanning 8 years.

What is your vision of the EU and of NATO?

In our view, the European Union is drifting toward federalism without a clear mandate from the Member States or their citizens.

Flags of the European Union flying in front of the European Commission building in Brussels, Belgium (Photo: rawpixel.com)

Flags of the European Union flying in front of the European Commission building in Brussels, Belgium (Photo: rawpixel.com)

It is increasingly important for parties like CHEGA! and similar counterparts to collaborate internally in order to steer the EU back toward a Europe of cooperative sovereign nations.

While we hold a Europeanist perspective, we do not advocate for federalism and are deeply concerned about the EU’s current trajectory.

Regarding NATO, considering that CHEGA! is a party that upholds Portugal’s traditional alliances and mindful of the global instability and conflict, we believe it is vital to bolster the defense policy investment of all alliance members.

This would initially involve reaching 2 percent of GDP and subsequently further increasing this investment.

If given the opportunity to govern in Portugal, CHEGA! will actively prioritize this matter.

Chega! has been growing a lot in the last surveys, reaching 20 percent or even surpassing it. Your party is a very young one and in turn, it was estimated that you would be the third strongest political force with about 15 percent of votes, but for the last couple of weeks you are predicted to gain a higher percentage of votes in the polls, why is this increase?

It seems that the Portuguese people are finally coming to the realization that the older parties, such as the PS or the PSD, are not adequately addressing their concerns.

This stems from their divergent ideas and policies that do not align with popular sensibilities, as well as a perceived lack of willingness or political courage to enact necessary reforms.

It’s becoming increasingly clear that people are turning to CHEGA as the only party they believe can bring about reforms in the Justice System, the Tax System, Health, Security, and effectively address issues stemming from “open doors” and uncontrolled migration policies.

There is undoubtedly a growing disconnect between the traditional parties and the people.

Assembly of the Republic (Portugal) Palace of São Bento, Lisbon (Photo: Jose Manuel / Wikimedia Commons)

Assembly of the Republic (Portugal) Palace of São Bento, Lisbon (Photo: Jose Manuel / Wikimedia Commons)

Although Chega! will have a large percentage of votes, it will not be able to govern alone. Would Chega! be willing to form a coalition government with the PSD? 

In the spirit of serving Portugal and the Portuguese people, we are committed to addressing their challenges. Consequently, we are willing to forge responsible alliances, such as a government coalition with the PSD, if it enables us to enact the essential reform program that we believe is crucial for Portugal and its citizens.

In Brussels there are several scenarios for future European political groups. Chega! positioned itself in 2020 with ID, however, you have a very good relationship with ECR parties. How do you see the rise in the polls of the conservative groups?

Yes, It is important to note that our position was already solidified in 2020 when we joined the ID group.

As you mention, we have consistently upheld this stance with the aim of maintaining positive relationships with various ECR parties, including VOX, FdI, and others.

We believe it is crucial for both groups to collaborate in implementing substantial reforms within the European Union and to put a stop to a series of measures that we perceive as encroachments on the sovereignty of Member States.

What is your opinion on the Russian–Ukrainian war? There are leaders who prefer a purely diplomatic solution to the conflict and others who prefer to continue giving military and financial aid to Ukraine.

We acknowledge and respect differing viewpoints, which may be driven by geostrategic considerations and energy supply concerns, such as gas requirements.

However, we firmly reject the invasion of one sovereign State by another in the 21st century.

Therefore, we believe that while diplomatic efforts are vital, there is no alternative but to continue supporting Ukraine, particularly by backing its war efforts.

Let’s take a look for a moment at the American continent. Argentina’s President Javier Milei supports a massive deregulation plan. Will you do the same if Chega! governs Portugal?

We advocate for a liberal and free but regulated market.

However, we also recognize the importance of state oversight in companies where national sovereignty is at stake, such as those involved in water and electricity distribution, as well as our aviation company TAP.

In the case of TAP, it is important to ensure strategic routes, such as those to Brazil or the former Portuguese colonies in Africa.

This does not necessarily mean that these companies need to be fully state-owned.

We acknowledge that the state is not always the most efficient manager, but we believe it should have a decisive role in matters relating to sovereignty companies.

In terms of healthcare, we believe in a system of comprehensive collaboration between the public, social, and private sectors. This allows those who are unable to access private healthcare, but do not receive timely assistance from the public sector, to seek medical consultations or procedures in the private sector, subsidized by the state.

Former President of the United States Donald Trump speaking with attendees at the 2023 Turning Point Action Conference at the Palm Beach County Convention Center in West Palm Beach, Florida (Photo: Gage Skidmore / Wikimedia Commons)

Former President of the United States Donald Trump speaking with attendees at the 2023 Turning Point Action Conference at the Palm Beach County Convention Center in West Palm Beach, Florida (Photo: Gage Skidmore / Wikimedia Commons)

How do you see the political situation in the U.S. and do you think a return of Donald Trump could stabilize international geopolitics? During the Biden era several international conflicts broke out and the U.S. image remained weak. Do you think this would change if Trump returns to the White House?

One thing I am sure of: Biden will not have the policies capable of addressing the challenges that today’s world demand, for instance regarding the Russian–Ukrainian war, or the war between Israel and Hamas, or even a potential escalation of the latter through Iran’s support for various states and terrorist groups.

Sergio Velasco
Sergio Velasco is a Spanish political scientist, analyst and political commentator. He is the founder of Filosofia Política, a social media-based enterprise where he details and offers his take on Spanish, Hungarian and Polish political developments. A columnist in Hungarian and Spanish press, he is often invited on television to share his thoughts with the viewers.

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  1. […] immediately. As we have seen recently, AD has won the elections and could form a government with Chega. Do you think that if there were elections a similar case could occur, i.e. that the PP wins and […]

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