Vasco Lourenço is a legend of Portugal's struggle for democracy
Vasco Lourenço is a legend of Portugal's struggle for democracy

Fall of government “worst attack in Portugal’s democracy” – April 25 hero

Vasco Lourenço’s tirade echoed through PS Socialist party

The fait accompli that has brought down Portugal’s absolute majority government was described, even in its early hours, as a form of coup détat.

The Public Prosecutor’s Office case is, for the time being at least, unproved, as is the ‘spin off’ case, involving the former prime minister. 

In other words, suspicions alone have been enough to unseat eight years of Socialism. Party die-hards are railing against what they see as a vicious iniquity.

‘Icons’ like Vasco Lourenço, a former military ‘fighter for democracy’ in the days of the 1974 revolution, are demanding that charges be brought within the next month, certainly in respect of António Costa, whose political career otherwise will be stymied. (It was always believed that Mr Costa aspired to a post in Europe; suspicions of ‘facilitating business’ will torpedo such chances, as would formal charges. But ‘no case’/ no citing as an ‘arguido’ – meaning official suspect – would arguably leave him with a degree of wriggle room).

As it is, Lourenço, writing under the banner of the April 25 Association, and cited by Porto Canal online, has described the events of last Tuesday as “the worst attack that the April 25 revolution and its values have suffered since the Constitution of the Republic came into force”.

Throughout his opinion piece, he talks about how the law is being used “to achieve political and military objectives”.

It’s very much along the lines of comments by the lawyer representing Diogo Lacerda Machado – the same lawyer in fact who is representing Mr Costa in a case for defamation he has taken out against comments in a book made by the former Governor of the Bank of Portugal – the economist in place before the post was taken up by Mr Costa’s former finance minister.

Mr Costa himself, in his unexpected speech on Saturday night, also alluded to the case being nothing more than the government’s methods for attracting vital foreign investment to Portugal.

In Vasco Lourenço’s opinion, what has been at work in this ‘political earthquake’ preparing the way for new elections is Lawfare, a concept that has replaced coup d’états and military pronouncements “for several years now.

“They don’t use force, they use a moralistic image of fighting corruption, even if those who accuse are less moralistic and more corrupt than those accused, which is usually the case”, he writes. 

“What does it matter that, in the vast majority of cases, the facts are not proven? The effect is achieved, the coup d’état is consummated, the rest is of little interest and quickly fades into oblivion”.

Thus the former military captain’s ‘demand’ that António Costa be made a defendant and that no more than a month be given to clarify the cases involving members of the government:

If, after a month, António Costa has not been charged with an offence, the least that can be demanded is that the Attorney General submit her resignation

“And if that doesn’t happen, the President of the Republic should be the one to sack her!” ND