European election campaign “failing to wow Portugal bigtime”

The spiciest story coming out of the European election campaign this week has been the spectacular crash of a Lexus car, driven by former prime minister Pedro Santana Lopes – a man who is leading his breakaway centre-right party in its first ‘race to the urns’.

The fact that Santana Lopes and his passenger (Euro candidate Paulo Sande) were not seriously injured was swiftly overtaken by questions as to whether the Lexus was even insured.

For this to have been a driving question in an election campaign is possibly indicative of the way things are going.

Another ‘blooper’ appears to have been the call by the Patriarch of Lisbon for people to vote CDS, Basta! or Nós Cidadãos because they are parties that are ‘pro-life’, opposing abortion and euthanasia.

The Patriarch’s Facebook post was taken down following complaints from left-wingers.

The Church admitted it was “an imprudence”.

But the damage has been done.

Says leader writer Paulo Jorge Santos, what on earth is there in these elections to vote about?

“The debates are boring, the meetings a complete yawn, the message doesn’t grab”.

Worse perhaps is the fact, in his opinion, that it’s “difficult to understand the usefulness of the 21 Euro MPs in Strasbourg”.

“What do they do for Portugal – and what influence do they have on the organs of decision-making? In short, how do they improve our lives”, queries Santos.

Going out to vote cannot be justified by ‘civic responsibility’.

First candidates must show people what their votes will serve for, he says, adding: ““What we have seen so far is not worth leaving the house for, even less exchanging a day at the beach or with one’s family to go to a polling station”.

And the “unfortunate” car accident, and appeal by the head of the country’s Catholic Church, have rather shown that, media-wise, there’s very little interest in the different parties’ ‘policies’ .

The visits round the country of European hopefuls will nonetheless continue right up till May 23, when votes will start being cast, closing on May 26.

Rui Tavares, the leading light of minority party LIVRE has said that the abstention that usually marks these elections is a “symptom of the failure of national political elites”.

Tavares was speaking at the association for the protection of diabetics in Portugal.

Elsewhere, these elections are being seen as a point where Europe’s centre-right powerbase is likely to fall, with populist parties forecast to make gains – many of them ‘anti-EU’.

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