Portugal's ruling Socialists win the most votes in snap parliamentary election, triggering celebrations in PM Antonio Costa's election headquarters.

Antonio Costa says his party secured a full parliamentary majority of 117-118 seats in snap general election.
Antonio Costa says his party secured a full parliamentary majority of 117-118 seats in snap general election. (Reuters)

Portugal's Prime Minister Antonio Costa has said his centre-left Socialist Party has secured a full parliamentary majority of 117-118 seats in snap general election.

"An absolute majority doesn't mean absolute power. It doesn't mean to govern alone. It's an increased responsibility and it means to govern with and for all Portuguese," Costa said on Sunday in his victory speech, before the final official vote count was released.

READ MORE: Portuguese head to polls in tightly-fought snap election

Celebrations

Earlier, at the Socialist party's campaign headquarters, supporters stood up cheering as the projected results were published.

A significant development was the rise of upstart far-right party Chega, which won up to 8.5 percent of the vote, which could make it the third-biggest party in the assembly with six to 14 seats.

The party has from just one lawmaker in the outgoing assembly and its rise mirrors gains for other populist far-right formations elsewhere in Europe.

The early election came as the nation of around 10 million people tries to boost its tourism-dependent economy which has been badly hit by the pandemic.

A stable government is needed for Portugal to make the most of a $18.7 billion package of European Union recovery funds it is due to receive by 2026.

READ MORE: Portugal kicks off early voting in snap general election

Skills and experience

Costa, 60, had said during the campaign that he planned to govern alone if the Socialists failed to secure a majority, negotiating support from other parties for laws on a case-by-case basis.

Costa has relied on two far-left parties  –– the left Bloc and the Communist Party –– to underpin two minority Socialist governments since 2015.

But the two formations turned against him in October and joined forces with the right to vote down his draft 2022 budget, prompting Sunday's early election.

The Socialists had a comfortable lead when the election was called but the PSD managed to close the gap as the polls neared.

During the final week of the campaign Costa repeatedly warned that a PSD-led government would be a "hostage" to Chega, whose proposals include castrating sex offenders and tighter Covid-19 restrictions on the Roma community.

Rio had vowed not to include Chega in a government but has indicated he is willing to head a minority government propped up by support in parliament from the far right.

The ballot took place on Sunday amid a surge in Covid-19 cases blamed on the omicron variant, with about 1.2 million people confined at home but allowed to go to polling stations to vote.

READ MORE: Portugal’s far-right party becomes kingmaker ahead of polls

Source: TRTWorld and agencies