Portugal aos Portugueses [Portugal to the Portuguese]A extrema direita depois do 25 de Abril [The extreme-right after the 25 of April]
If in the mid seventies the Portuguese extreme-right was mainly involved in anti-communist and counter revolutionary mobilization, receiving extremely scarce electoral support, by mid eighties they had abandoned an assumed fascist ideology and got closer to a conservative nationalism, oriented to the defense of national identity in a context of increasing European integration.
The arrival of MAN – Movimento de Acção Nacional [National Action Movement] in 1985 was characterized by its anti-immigration and racist propaganda, as well as its relation with the skinhead movement that it helped to organise. Although officially established as a cultural and political association with a nationalistic, revolutionary and popular character committed to combat liberalism, communism and individualism, ideas like the defence of racial purity or the compulsory return of blacks, indians and other non-europeans were publicly disclosed in extreme right media. By that time the extreme right started recruiting in popular neighbourhoods in the outskirts of the two major cities (Lisbon and Porto). The author suggests that Skinheads had an important role structuring the Portuguese extreme right and strengthening its influence over certain sub-cultural groups, like football fans. Above all what most characterised this new wave of the extreme right were its violent political and racist actions. The deaths of José Carvalho in 1989 and Alcindo Monteiro in 1995 are the two most well known examples of the countless violent episodes perpetrated by these groups. In 1995 the Portuguese Constitutional Court, that finally had the conditions to deliberate upon the request for extinction of the MAN for racist and fascist ideology, decided not to do it arguing that it was already extinct.
Gathering the most radical sectors of the new and old Portuguese extreme right, the Aliança Nacional [National Alliance] was created in 1995. It soon revealed to be unable to collect the necessary signatures to create a political party and by the end of the decade they had negotiated to take over of a dying existing party. In April 2000 the name, statutes and insignia of the former party were changed and PNR - Partido Nacional Renovador [National Renovator Party] came to live. The first phase in PNR’s development is marked by the efforts to build a party-political device and running in different elections. From the 877 votes obtained in 2001 Lisbon Municipal elections, PNR steadily increased this number as well as the number of electoral circles where they are present, reaching 9,362 votes (0.16%) in 2005 legislatives. In this same year the party’s youth organisation appears – Juventude Nacionalista [Nationalist Youth], with the proclaimed aim of assuring the participation of PNR in students associations and other youth structures. Also in 2005 and as a result of the results obtained in the general elections, PNR becomes a member of the European National Front group (that includes the British National Party, the German Nationaldemokratishe Partei Deutschlands, and the Spanish La Falange, among others). At the same time the party was also promoting demonstrations and media campaigns to obtain more visibility to their positions. Actions like a demonstration against the falsely assumed increase in criminality rates and its links to immigration, immediately after the episode that become known as Arrastão (a fake dragnet irresponsibly covered by Portuguese media – EWS item 456 and library item 43); or placing an outdoor at the most central square in Lisbon, where it could be read “Stop immigration. Nationalism is the solution. Portugal to the Portuguese” (EWS item 341). The visibility brought by street demonstrations like the ones against the entrance of Turkey in the EU, against the Roma community of Coruche, an homage to Rudolf Hess, protests against the so called “gay lobby”, gay marriage, gays adopting children and other public events that followed, unmasked the links between skinheads, the PNR, the National Youth, the National Front and several other organisations present in the internet. On the same line, a direct parallel of PNR’s process of internationalisation can be seen in the increase on the activities of the Portuguese skinhead movement. After years of absence it reappears on the press and in the streets, organised by the National Front and having Mário Machado as its leader. The increased activity of the skinheads was not only reflected on the raising numbers of racial violence episodes and racist and xenophobic propaganda, they were also allegedly involved in criminal activities like the traffic of arms, persons and drugs and providing illegal security services. In 2008 more than thirty of them were sentenced in court (EWS item 319) and among them it was the National Front leader, as well as other members and leaders of organizations such as the Portuguese chapter of the Hammerskin Nation. Despite them being an important sector of support for PNR and contrary to what happened in 1993, the judiciary inquiry did not implied the dissolution or disorganisation of the political party. In 2009 general elections PNR obtained 11,503 votes (0.2%) and 17,548 votes (0.31%) in the 2011 early elections. Revealing that although the number of votes is still residual, they present increasing political organisation capacities, that MAN and the prior generation of skinheads were unable to turn operational. The way these groups explored Internet resources as the privileged media to communicate, organise and disseminate propaganda, was very important to obtain the strength and resistance they exhibited.
The author concludes that the evolution of the Portuguese extreme right, represented by PNR does not allow us to foresee the menace of its significant electoral growth. Much more dangerous could be the adoption of its nationalistic and xenophobic agenda by the mainstream political parties and the recrudescence of extra-parties neo-Nazi movements. He also concludes that in the last years PNR, like its European counterparts, moved from a discourse centred in notions like race or ethnic group, to those of culture and identity. They have also changed old ideas of racial hierarchy into cultural and civilization differences. It worth mention the emergence of a strong Islamophobic dimension that was not present in the extreme-right discourse, that proclaims the defence of national identity while in reality, using a cultural language, it expresses other kind of social antagonism, namely the social class ones.