Luís Montenegro: Centre-right leader invited to form minority government

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Luís Montenegro has repeatedly insisted he will not work with the far-right Chega party

Portugal’s president has invited centre-right politician Luís Montenegro to form a minority government.

The Democratic Alliance (AD) won snap elections this month but fell short of winning a majority in parliament.

The party rejected working with the far-right Chega party, which won a record number of seats.

Portugal, governed by the Socialists since 2015, now has its most fragmented parliament since the end of its dictatorship half a century ago.

President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa invited Mr Montenegro to become prime minister shortly after midnight on Thursday after consulting with party leaders.

“With the Democratic Alliance winning the elections in terms of mandates and votes, and having the Secretary General of the Socialist Party confirming that he would be leader of the opposition, the President of the Republic decided to nominate Dr Luís Montenegro as prime minister,” a statement issued by the presidential administration said.

The AD won 80 seats, well short of the 116 needed for a majority. The party will require the support of either the Socialists, who hold 78 seats or Chega (Enough), which won 50, to pass legislation.

Mr Montenegro on Wednesday refused to answer questions about how he would form a majority in parliament before he had appointed his ministers.

“All issues that have to do with the exercise of government activity will be taken up when there is a government, communicated and explained when there is a government,” he told reporters. “There is a relative, not absolute, majority.”

The AD leader has repeatedly insisted he will not work with Chega. The party’s leader, former football commentator André Ventura, has hoped to play kingmaker in the new parliament.

Mr Montenegro will succeed Antonio Costa, who had led the Iberian country since 2015 as Socialist party leader. But he stepped down four months ago amid corruption allegations, even though he was never named as a suspect in the investigation.

Low salaries and soaring rents led to voters becoming increasingly dissatisfied with centre-left rule.

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