Head of State Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa
Portugal's Head of State Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa yesterday. Image: Ant´nio Pedro Santos/ Lusa

Democracies under pressure; need to be cared for – president

Marcelo’s speech comes as Portugal’s ruling majority blanks demands for scrutiny 

Portugal’s president said last night that democracies are under “deep pressure” and need “more than ever” to be cared for and preserved “in their undeniable values”.

“These are times of deep pressure on democracies, with the spreading competition of authoritarian and hybrid models,” Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa said at the diplomatic corps’ New Year’s greetings ceremony at Ajuda Palace in Lisbon.

His message came at a moment when political leaders have yet again blanked opposition parties’ calls for public scrutiny.

The head of state noted there are currently, “fewer democracies than 10, 20 years ago“, insisting that “democracy needs, more than ever, to be cared for in form and content, preserved in its non-negotiable values, reformed in its most crystallised elements, rejuvenated in its protagonists, in an adaptation to the major transitions that the world is going through”.

His 20-minute speech went on to emphasise the importance of foreign policy, particulary now at a time of war in Europe.

Earlier in the day, Marcelo had sent the 3rd attempt by parliament at formulating a law de-criminalising euthanasia to the Constitutional Court.

On his official website, the president justified the move “for a question of legal certainty”.