Cavaco traces “portrait of a future president” while under fire from all sides

Portugal’s president Cavaco Silva has come in for heavy fire after wading into prime minister Pedro Passos Coelho’s tax debt scandal, saying that he had received the PM’s “explanations” and that was as much as he was prepared to say.

As commentators and opposition MPs were quick to point out, it was already too much.

A president’s role should be “equidistant”, suggested SIC’s Saturday night commentator Luís Marques Mendes – alluding to the fact that Cavaco cited party-political manoeuvring in the ongoing concern over Passos’ tax debts.

He even appealed for politicians to “concentrate on resolving the real problems of the country”.

He could have said things differently, said Marques Mendes. “He should not have tried to goad the government, nor the opposition”.

But as it was, declaring that he should not make any kind of political points, Cavaco was basically seen as having done just that.

Meantime, he has been busy tracing the portrait of his successor – due to be chosen in 2016.

As Sábado writes, he (or only slightly possibly she) would be focused on external policies but “in tune with the defence of national interests”.

A future president would have to be available to analyse government proposals and those of the head of state of the armed forces; defend the interests of Portuguese people overseas and approach “with due knowledge matters political, economic, social, military, cultural, environmental, scientific and of international politics”.

According to Sábado, there are 13 pretenders already announced for the post:
Alberto João Jardim – the outgoing president of the regional government of Madeira (after a stretch in office longer than that even of former dictator António Salazar);
António Guterres – the former Socialist prime minister who resigned in 2001 “to prevent the country falling into a political swamp”
António Sampaio da Nóvoa – former rector of the University of Lisbon
António Vitorino – former secretary general of the PS
Carvalho da Silva – former secretary of the CGTP union
Durão Barroso – former president of the European Commission
Fernando Nobre – running a second time and president of AMI (Assistência Médica Internacional)
Jaime Gama – former president of the Parliament
Manuela Ferreira Leite – former PSD leader/finance minister
Marcelo Rebelo da Sousa – TV commentator and ‘father’ of the PSD party
Maria de Belém – former health minister and president of the PS party
Pedro Santana Lopes – president of Santa Casa da Misericórdia and very briefly head of a PSD government
Rui Rio – former mayor of Porto

By NATASHA DONN [email protected]

Photo: President Cavaco Silva speaking during a visit to beer giant Unicer in Matosinhos on March 7.

Photo by: JOSÉ COELHO/LUSA