FORMER PORTUGUESE Prime Minister Ánibal Cavaco Silva is to run as an independent candidate for the presidency.
Announcing his intentions before the media at the Cultural Centre at Bélem on Thursday October 20, he revealed that he had suspended his membership of the Social Democratic Party.
In doing so, he has blatantly dictated a vote of no confidence and, with strong independent views, is likely to be a political headache for either a ruling PS or PSD government. The announcement follows months of speculation as to whether the former prime minister, economist, author and political commentator would run for the Palacio de Bélem. “I’m standing as an independent candidate, meaning that I’m not backing any particular party strategy,” said Cavaco Silva who was Prime Minister between 1985 and1995.
“I am convinced that should I be elected as President I could contribute towards improving the climate of confidence and the difficult situation in which the country presently finds itself,” he added.
“In the past five years, the Portuguese economy has demonstrated a very low growth rate that has resulted in a strong feeling of disbelief and pessimism, with the number of unemployed reaching 400,000. At the level of European Union development, particularly against our neighbour, Spain, it isn’t good,” he said.
He pointed out that Portugal had already been overtaken by Greece and Slovenia and other former countries from the Eastern bloc.
The independent candidate is expected to unveil his electoral programme entitled My Ambitions for Portugal next week.
Cavaco Silva also affirmed that he would defend political stability and, when he was asked about the eventual dissolution of parliament and the issue over abortion, he said when the time was right he would pronounce on the issues.
Despite not having mentioned the name of Mario Soares – a rival candidate – during his speech, he did make an allusion to his adversary. “I am not putting myself forward as a candidate against anyone,” adding that he would speak for himself and be his own spokesperson.
Although not revealing his electoral campaign, he did make it clear that he would not renounce the presidential powers of dissolving parliament and government.
“No one thinking of being the President of the Republic can forsake the powers that the republican constitution confers on him,” he said, after being questioned on the issue of dissolving a government holding a parliamentary majority in the Assembly – which Jorge Sampaio did last year.
However, basing his speech on the notion of political stability to confront the current difficult economic situation, he did say that the power to dissolve parliament should only be taken in extraordinary circumstances.
Theformer Prime Minister also hinted at other possible extraordinary measures the President could take if faced with an incompetent government. “The President has other forms of intervention if faced with a government that is incapable of good governance,” he said.