Seven Billboards Outside Lisbon, Portugal

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).

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Interview #54 — Radical Right Between Stigma and Normalization

Individuals with radical-right ideas who feel comfortable voting for radical-right parties, might not feel comfortable publicly disclosing their support. What are the causes and consequences of this mechanism?

In this interview, Vicente Valentim discusses the ongoing normalization of previously stigmatized radical-right parties. With a focus on social norms and their evolution over time, we discuss how radical-right parties break these norms, and try to understand how the perception of what is acceptable and what is stigmatized in a certain social group changes across time and space.

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Interview #41 — Authoritarian Past and the Far right in the Iberian Peninsula

Spain and Portugal share many things: the same peninsula, long parts of their history, and —until recently— the lack of success of far right parties. This, however, is no longer true. We try to understand the rise of the far right in Spain by asking Mariana Mendes questions about Vox and Chega, the memory of Franco and Salazar, opportunity structures and stigma.

Why populist radical right parties were not successful in Spain until very recently, and what has changed in the meantime? Will Portugal follow a similar trajectory or will it remain one of the rare “exceptional countries” in Europe where the far right is not successful?

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Interview #37 – The end of Portuguese exceptionalism?

Portugal has been a dictatorship for almost half a century, until the Carnation Revolution (1926-1974). In the forty-five following years (1974-2019), Portugal has become an “exception” since it seemed to be immune to far right parties, populism, and all the other phenomena that in the meantime were characterizing the rest of Europe. Last October, however, Portugal went to vote (well, not many people, the turnout was below 50%). Is Portugal still an “exceptional” country? Who are André Ventura and Joacine Katar-Moreira? We asked Alexandre Afonso to answer these and many other questions about the lesser known of Iberian democracies. In the next months, the focus will be often on Portugal and Spain, so stay tuned…

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