He had said he would be absent, but even so the lack of presence of a country’s president to commemorate the implantation of a democracy left a strange chill in the air.
“October 5 without Cavaco”, ran TVI24, in a clip that featured Left Bloc MP Pedro Filipe Soares talking about the “disappeared president”, and the mayor of Lisbon Fernando Medina doing his best to fill the gap on the 105th anniversary of the Day of the Republic.
What Portugal needs now, he told his audience, was “negotiation, compromise and stability”.
The truth is that president Cavaco had said he needed the time today to “concentrate on the governability solution” of this country, and not to take part in commemorations.
With months left before he stands down, he told reporters as he went to vote on Sunday that he had “studied all the hypotheses” for results. Thus one would hope that a narrow coalition win with no majority was one of them.
For now, everyone is waiting – particularly Brussels, where president of the Eurogroup Jeroen Dijsselbloem dubbed the messy election results as “a little ambiguous”.
“We will just have to see what comes of this new situation,” he said as he went into a meeting of Eurogroup finance ministers.
Meantime, the “presidential race” has well and truly opened. The race to see who will be taking over from Cavaco Silva when he finally steps down in January shows PSD founder and TV commentator Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa in pole position for the time being, leaps and bounds ahead of other candidates.