When I go to the office, I usually take the bike lane along Avenida da República, one of the principal arteries of Lisbon. All political parties rely on the traffic to force the countless drivers to stare at their billboards as they wait for the green light. Whenever I pass, I get a free class on Portuguese politics.
When I arrived in Lisbon in 2019, I started working on a project that tried to answer the following question: why is there no populism in Portugal? By now it is clear that populism is a common feature of Portuguese politics, the question would be perceived as naive at best. Another aspect changed since 2019: the party system has been evolving rapidly, with the populist radical right entering the parliament for the first time since the Carnation Revolution that in 1974 started the third wave of democratization across the world.
The Portuguese party system was famous for its stability, and on the right the two main parties were PSD and CDS. Now CDS is out of the parliament, and PSD is challenged by many new parties. Opportunity structures on the right are so favourable that many are trying to carve out their own space: it is the Wild West out there.
For this reason, I started taking pictures of all the billboards of right-wing parties I see when going to the office: to map the political space, understand its future evolution, and have a better grasp at the strategies of all the actors involved.
This work was first published on Twitter, and now it is polished and expanded in this new format to have all the information in one place (and to have it somewhere that is not Twitter, a space by now unusable for ethical and technological reasons, but that’s another story).
Enjoy the read…
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