Shortly after the Portuguese deputies knocked down the state budgets designed by the Socialist Government for 2022 on Wednesday, the President of the Republic took to the streets in the Belém neighborhood of Lisbon, where his official residence is located. The journalists who followed him wondered where Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa would go after the historic moment that had just taken place in Parliament, where for the first time an executive failed in his attempt to approve the public accounts. At the height of an ATM, the President of the Republic stopped, unfolded a piece of paper and began the operation that thousands of Portuguese do every day: pay any pending invoice through the Multibanco network. One of the few things that this crisis that has shaken Portuguese political life has not been dealt with is the personality of the head of state.
But even Rebelo de Sousa, whose popularity is extraordinary, has emerged eroded from the political fracture that has placed Portugal at the door of an early election in the middle of the legislature and has shaken the image of stability that surrounded the country in recent years. years. Despite friction, the understanding between the President of the Republic, who comes from the Social Democratic Party (PSD, center-right, main opposition force), and the Socialist Prime Minister, António Costa, has contributed to reinforcing the international projection of Portugal as a country from which no surprises are expected at breakfast time. The PSD won the elections in 2015, but the alliance Costa forged with the Bloco de Esquerda (BE) and the Portuguese Communist Party (PCP) allowed him to become prime minister. That pact, the famous lowonça, broke the Portuguese political taboo that prevented the left from seeking stability and that had only been tried in town halls. “The left is not condemned to be the protest party,” Costa said again this week in Parliament.
It is difficult to find someone who comes out of this crisis well. Not even Rebelo de Sousa, who some blame for having conditioned the Assembly’s vote by warning that he would call elections if budgets fell. In his editorial on Friday the director of PublicManuel Carvalho considered it a miscalculation to believe that “the threat of a dissolution of the Assembly would be a sufficiently dissuasive argument to make the Bloco and the PCP see reason.” And, in the hubbub of what was going to happen and the effects that early elections would have on his political family’s primary calendar, he received on Tuesday one of the candidates to lead the PSD, MEP Paulo Rangel. “In politics what it seems is and the suspicion of interference in the party’s electoral calendar can only deserve criticism,” Carvalho added. “It was evident that Marcelo is a visible hand in the internal process of the PSD, which is very serious and leaves the head of state very bad,” wrote the PSD deputy, Hugo Carneiro, on a rostrum in the same newspaper.
From the reproaches, Rebelo de Sousa defended himself with what always works for him: his personality. “The President of the Republic is as he is. When they ask me for audiences, I give them, but that is not important for the life of the Portuguese ”. This Saturday he received Rui Rio, current president of the PSD and candidate for reelection, within the round of consultations he held with the nine political parties that have parliamentary representation to find out his opinion on the electoral advance. Rio is in favor of holding elections as soon as possible while his rival prefers to delay them as long as possible. The decision adopted by the President of the Republic will be scrutinized with a partisan magnifying glass in the PSD.
One of the paradoxes of this crisis is that almost all the parties that voted against the Budgets, right and left, would prefer that the elections not be anticipated. In addition to the heartbreaking process that the PSD is going through, the CDS (Social Democratic Center, right) is also in the midst of an internal battle between its current leader, Francisco Rodrigues dos Santos, and MEP Nuno Melo, although this Friday it was decided to postpone the congress scheduled for November until after the legislative elections. Even Chega, André Ventura’s ultra party that only has one deputy and prospects for a rise, is pending an internal process to adapt its Statutes after a judicial decision.
The Bloco de Esquerda and the Portuguese Communist Party, former preferential partners of Costa, prefer that an alternative be sought. “Nothing forces there to be elections. The Government must try to execute the Budget that is in force, it is not a drama if some months it is managed in twelfths, we already had this situation in 2016 ″, said Vasco Cardoso, one of the representatives of the PCP in the failed negotiation of the budgets, in an interview in the Daily News. The Bloco has also shown its preferences for the continuity of the legislature. Both forces would now go to the polls in full digestion of their setback in the municipal elections. The communists, who historically have had a significant level of local power and who ran in coalition with the Ecologist Party Os Verdes (PEV), have lost five of their 24 mayors. For its part, the Bloco de Esquerda fell from 12 to 4 councilors and was surpassed by Chega. In an interview with the weekly ExpressBloco leader Catarina Martins defended the negative vote on the budgets but admitted that they did not expect a dissolution of the Chamber. “Now I still think that there is a political majority in Portugal that can and should be understood for fundamental issues of employment and health,” he said.
Join now MRT to follow all the news and read without limits
With a historical abstention of 46%, the Socialists also scored a poor municipal result. Although it was once again the most voted force, the loss of Lisbon, Coimbra and Funchal in favor of the coalitions led by the PSD suggested the beginning of a change in the political cycle to the right. The victory in Lisbon of the platform of the former European Commissioner Carlos Moedas (PSD) was a surprise for all. Neither the polls nor the analysts saw him options. He won by 2,300 votes but they were enough to beat the socialist mayor, Fernando Medina, one of Costa’s potential successors.
It is therefore not a sweet moment for the PS, but the political gale of the last days can benefit them. Costa lost the vote but is winning the story. It is his former partners who are bearing the responsibility for the crisis. Perhaps the prime minister, a seasoned puzzle-maker, appreciated the opportunity that was open to him after the blow before anyone else. He attended the parliamentary debate without last minute measures that could help change the communists’ vote, he did not explore the waterway opened by Madeira deputies in the PSD after offering to negotiate and on Monday he convened an extraordinary council of ministers that ended at midnight where the new pre-electoral political scenario was already addressed. Signs of economic recovery (GDP grew by 2.9% in the third quarter and the unemployment rate was 6.7% in the second quarter), the arrival of recovery funds from Brussels and the crisis of leadership of the PSD favors the PS, although dark clouds are also approaching due to the energy crisis, the lack of control of inflation and, latent, internal disagreements on whether the Socialists should have yielded more to the left.
The scenario that comes out of the polls, however, could not differ too much from the current one and give a small victory that forces new understandings to the right (if the PSD wins) or left (if the PS wins) and hinders stability. What happened, in the opinion of the sociologist Maria Filomena Mónica, exacerbates the need for a reform of the electoral law so that voters can vote on lists open to deputies and loyalty to the head of the party is no longer the norm. Parliament is seen as a club of anonymous privileged people. The society considers that what happens there, including the recent vote on the budgets, is another of its games. It’s a shame, because the matter is serious. Everything has happened within the democratic rules, but after 50 years of democracy, we should demand a serious reform of the electoral law ”.
If the polls imitate themselves, it will once again be a time for forced dialogue. In Parliament and between the institutions. In view of what happened this week, the understanding between the left seems more difficult than between Rebelo de Sousa and Costa. If during the pandemic, the Head of State aligned himself with all the important decisions of the prime minister even when he did not fully share them, during the last January elections for the presidency of the Republic, the socialist leadership did not support his candidate Ana Gomes and celebrated the re-election of Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa during the election night.
Disclaimer: This article is generated from the feed and not edited by our team.