Luís Montenegro, PSD leader
Luís Montenegro. Image: Rodrigo Antunes/ Lusa

First reactions to President’s refusal to accept government housing programme

PSD leader says government should “tear it up and start again”

Early reactions to President Marcelo’s refusal to green-light the government’s bitterly contested programme to ‘fix’ the housing crisis have included the message from PSD leader Luís Montenegro that the time has come to ‘scrap’ the plan definitively, and ‘start again’.

Says State news agency Lusa, for Luís Montenegro, the “government made a mistake and either does what is required of anyone who wants to govern in favour of the people, (which is to) start from scratch, literally tear up what it has done so far and start from scratch a housing programme for Portugal” for the next 20 years, or “commit a crime”.

“The government made a mistake. António Costa has to be humble and say to the country: ‘I made a mistake, I apologise. I’m here to start from scratch‘. 

“If António Costa has this humility, I, as leader of the opposition, also have the humility to stand alongside the government, in favour of the Portuguese people,” Montenegro said this morning.

It is a case of the PS “either maintaining its stubbornness and confirming in parliament (…) something that will not be implemented and will never achieve its objectives” or “doing what is required of anyone who wants to govern in favour of the people (…) Literally tear up what you’ve done so far and start a new housing programme from scratch, to increase access to housing for young people, for couples with fewer resources and even for the middle classes. And you can count on the PSD for that,” he reiterated.

Ricardo Costa, meantime – the half brother of prime minister António Costa, and a leading commentator for SIC television news/ Expresso – says the president’s decision was only to be expected, given the quality of the Mais Habitação text in all its 95 pages, but nonetheless “very harsh”.

Speaking this morning on air, he said “on the various occasions” that Marcelo has spoken of this intended housing package, “he has always shown that he didn’t think it was credible enough”, and he has always “blamed the government for following a very political path” – a path only open to it by dint of its absolute majority.

But Ricardo Costa is not overly optimistic of where the president’s observations will lead. He told the news anchor this morning that he suspects the Socialist Party will resubmit the package (as it is empowered, due to its political majority), put it to the vote, get it reapproved and then have it promulgated by the President, as the law on presidential vetoes requires…

On cue, very shortly after Ricardo Costa made his prediction, PS parliamentary spokesman Eurico Brilhante Dias confirmed this is exactly what the PS absolute majority intends to do.

PS refuses to “affront” Marcelo. “We co-operate closely”

Marcelo’s disagreement is “legitimate”, he emphasised, stressing the votes approving Mais Habitação involved “the majority”.

“What the PS understands, not least because of the nature of the veto, which doesn’t allow us to take any major steps forward, is that we will confirm the diploma as it stands.

“We don’t affront sovereign bodies. We work closely with the PR, in dialogue,” said Dias – effectively vaccuuming up any optimism that this morning’s newsbites seemed to bring.

To recap, when this unpopular package was voted through in parliament, none of other parties were in favour: PSD, CHEGA, Iniciativa Liberal, PCP and Bloco de Esquerda all voted against, only LIVRE and PAN (two of the smallest parties, each with just one sitting MP) abstained.

Today, the situation is ‘the same’: no other political party supports the PS; yet the PS is not letting this change its (very political) course.

Association of Lisbon Property Owners claims diploma is unconstitutional

Representing the association of property owners in Lisbon, Luís Menezes Leitão used to head up the country’s Law Society – and he believes the government’s housing programme is unconstitutional. Efforts thus will be brought to bear with regard to taking this diploma to the Constitutional Court, even though President Marcelo himself has decided against this course of action.ND