There are numerous terms to describe the wide array of far-right parties and their leaders. They are in one way or the other extreme right, radical right, populist, nativist, ultranationalist, authoritarian, neofascist, illiberal, ‘anti-woke’, anti-Islam, anti-immigration and Euro- and climate-sceptic.

The PopuList – an innovative project involving more than 100 political scientists from over 30 countries classifying Europe’s political parties and their ideologies – shows the steady increase of populist far-right parties in Europe from 1989 until 2022.

Chega (which means Enough) – at present the third-biggest force in Portuguese politics and led by André Ventura – is far-right and populist, with a strong focus on immigration and Islam.

Just like the PVV (Freedom Party) of Geert Wilders in the Netherlands, Marine Le Pen’s National Rally (RN) in France and Victor Orban’s Fidesz in Hungary, who all believe that states should be inhabited exclusively by members of their own ‘native group.’

The picture is familiar. Mainstream parties are struggling with upcoming nativist movements that successfully exploit discontent with stagnating living standards. In Portugal, the sense of economic resentment has been deepened by an acute housing crisis, in part triggered by an influx of expats, who are lured through attractive tax concessions. Multiple corruption scandals have also played in Ventura’s hands.

Although the majority (87%) of the Portuguese want a democracy, nearly half (47%) are willing to support a government of a strong leader who does not have to worry about elections, according to ‘50 years of Democracy in Portugal’, a study recently carried out by the Institute of Social and Political Sciences (ISCSP) of the University of Lisbon.

’We can conclude that today the preference for democracy coexists with preferences for autocratic forms of government’, declared Conceição Pequito, one of the coordinators of the study. A more autocratic form of government ‘presupposes a weakening of the legislative and judicial power and poses a threat to the protection of political rights and civil liberties in a democratic liberal state.’

Of the respondents who prefer a Government with a strong leader, one-third are positioned on the extreme right and over 50% are neither interested in politics nor sympathize with a particular party.
Nowadays, the online presence of certain leaders is such that – in the eyes of voters – ‘they tend to be considered more important than parties.’

A situation that not only takes place in Portugal, and is exacerbated in the political communication made on social media.

Have a great weekend          Bom fim de semana                (Pic Sapo)

A beacon of hope for the preservation of coral reefs

An amazing piece of tapestry by Algarve textile artist Vanessa Barragão has been donated by the Portuguese government to the United Nations, which will display it permanently on the wall of the Delegates Lounge at its headquarters in New York.

The four-by-two meters artwork, entitled Coral Vivo (Living Coral), aims to be a beacon of hope for the preservation of corals. It took two months to create, using only recycled materials such as wool and lyocell.

Despite her 31 years of age, Vanessa Barragão has already exhibited her art around the world, from the USA to Shanghai and from Australia to Japan. She admitted that being invited by the government to donate this piece to the UN stands out as one of her most impressive achievements.

It’s no surprise that the oceans – and corals specifically – are such a strong inspiration for her. She was born in Albufeira, where she spent her childhood at the beaches of the Algarve and used to travel with her parents to coral reefs in the Caribes. When she turned 18, she left home to study Fashion Design at the University of Lisbon. During that time she became more conscious about consumption and sustainability.

After her study she moved up north, where she worked as a textile designer at an artisanal carpet factory in Póvoa de Varzim. It was during this period that she became aware of the amount of waste generated by mass production and the extreme pollution in the textile industry.

In 2020 she decided to move back to the Algarve where she opened her own studio and combined her ecological awareness with techniques based on ancestral textile practices like crochet, weaving, embroidery and macrame. All the materials used come from waste and leftovers from Portuguese factories.

‘Just as the delicate yet resisting threads in this tapestry, all life on the planet is intermeshed in an intricate and co-dependent network. Coral reefs are among the most stunning habitats with the greatest biodiversity on our planet but are extremely threatened,’ Secretary-General António Guterres stated, when the tapestry was officially donated to the UN on the 18th of March in New York.   

Coral reefs are not only stunning, they also matter. Although covering less than 1% of the ocean about 25% of all marine species are found around them. Due to the global heating crisis, ocean record temperatures have caused corals to bleach in the three tropical basins of the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Ocean.  

Australia’s Great Barrier Reef – the planet’s biggest coral reef covering an area a little larger than the size of Italy – is experiencing its most widespread bleaching on record. ‘It is a graveyard out there’ according to professor Terry Hughes, a renowned veteran coral scientist.  

Enjoy your week          Aproveite a sua semana                (pic Ptres/Sapo)