The P.S.D. has lost votes to Chega ever since, and analysts say that might be partly why the party is so interested in Ms. Garcia. In many ways, her campaign seems less about whether she wins — the P.S.D. has not run Amadora in years — but more about changing the party’s image to cater more to the political extreme.
“It’s a sign they’re trying to engage with the ideology of the far right,” said Marina Costa Lobos, a political scientist at the University of Lisbon. “By selecting this woman as a candidate for Amadora, which is ethnically diverse, they are validating a certain discourse.”
For her part, Ms. Garcia says she is often misunderstood. In an interview, she spoke of growing up in Mozambique (where her father was based as a geologist), and arriving in Portugal at age 12, an experience she said gave her insight into the challenge of being an immigrant from Africa. Though white, she claims some Black ancestry (from one grandmother), noting that many of her relatives are darker than she is.
In her television appearances, though, Ms. Garcia, 45, has a different tone. In 2016, she became a commentator on “SOS 24,” a television show focusing on crime news, and soon became known for her provocative language and heated debate style, which often involved yelling down those who disagreed with her in the studio. Hate crimes were one of her most impassioned topics.
In 2019, Luis Giovani dos Santos Rodrigues, a 21-year-old student from Cape Verde, was heading home from a party when a group of men armed with belts surrounded him and his friends. They beat Mr. dos Santos, who died in a hospital days later.
Ms. Garcia soon stepped into an ensuing debate over whether the attack should be treated as a hate crime.