9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN25 Social Movements

2009-09-03 13:30:00 2009-09-03 15:00:00 Thursday, 3 September 13:30 - 15:00 Political Parties and Social Movements Building I, 1E3

Right wing activism in contemporary Portugal: Partido Nacional Renovador

Since the mid-80's, the Portuguese Radical Right has suffered deep changes. The traditional radical right, coming from the authoritarian regime and characterized by the multiracial imperial myth, has been replaced with a new radical right characterized by an ethno-nationalist political thought.
In particular, since the turning of the millennium, an extreme right-wing party - the Renewal National Party (PNR - Partido Nacional Renovador) - has been capable to merge the militancy of the more recent extreme fringes of the skinhead movement, with some cadres coming from radical nationalism of seventies. Actually, the new president of the PNR - José Pinto Coelho - is trying to improve in Portugal the electoral and political strategies of the more mature European national-populist parties, without losing some characteristics of the old radical right and the activism of the youth extremists.
PNR is actually engaged in gaining the attention of the media and putting the party in the forefront of the political arena. To achieve this goal, PNR leadership decides for a policy of impacting messages against immigration, throughout a series of huge outdoors in the centre of Lisbon.
In matter of fact, every PNR's outdoor causes condemning reactions by Portuguese political parties and antiracist organizations, putting the theme and the right-wing activism at the top of the Medias' agenda during a while.
If at the beginning of the campaign, Portuguese opinion makers were hardly critics with PNR strategy and the party was, in some cases, persecuted by law, in the last year PNR gained a sort of solidarity by some prestigious intellectuals, concerned with the freedom of speech.
This strategy did not yet produce significant results in electoral term. However the growing media exposure offered an unquestionable national notoriety to the Portuguese radical right, inexistent in the last two decades of the XX century. This fact would produce, in the future, some success, especially in suburban local election, where immigration is a sensitive matter.
The paper analyzes PNR's policy in comparison with the broader European radical right activism.