THE BATTLE for Lisbon Câmara in the forthcoming autumn local council elections is hotting up with a campaign of mud slinging.
Socialist Party (PS) candidate, Manuel Maria Carrilho, launched a stinging attack on rival Social Democrats Party (PSD) candidate, Carmona Rodrigues, saying that “if the Câmara were a company, Carmona would have already been sacked”.
In an interview published in Portugal Diário newspaper, Carrilho, who is married to glamorous TV host Bárbara Guimarães, said that he liked to walk, often used the metro and taxis, because the public transport system had to be the cheapest, most efficient and common sense transport medium for getting around Lisbon.
He also said that he supports measures and proposals to build large out-of-town car parks and introduce park and ride shuttle bus schemes to reduce congestion in the city at peak times.
Carrilho said that, if he were elected, he would tackle the problem of the legion of unofficial car park attendants, or ‘arrumadores’, who stake out the city’s open air car parks and demand money from motorists to look after their cars for a euro. Most of them are drug addicts or impoverished, illegal immigrants.
“The financial situation in which Lisbon Câmara finds itself is very serious and, during Carmona’s presidency, the city hall debt owed to suppliers ballooned compared to the time under Santana Lopes’ and, today, it is estimated to stand at around 500 million euros,” he told the newspaper.
He accused Carmona of insisting on the Parque Mayer leisure project, like a megalomaniac, and that it would cost 350 million euros which the council needed for more pressing projects, at a time when the city’s finances weren’t in order. Carrilho also slammed the amount of cash spent on council publicity, which ran into millions on posters, leaflets, adverts and billboards.
“If I’m elected, the Lisbon people can count on one thing for sure – there won’t be any unnecessary tunnels and flyovers to please millionaire construction company owners, to keep me in their good books,” he said.
He also swept aside criticisms that he had played the family card by using his children in publicity for his election campaign by saying: “Elections are very personal, just like district and city councils are. People are interested in knowing about the candidate and his family life because they can work out what kind of person for whom they are voting. Of course, being a husband or a father isn’t important on its own per se and it doesn’t reveal if the person is a good candidate or not, but it does help people build up an image and profile of the kind of man for whom they are voting.”