Five reasons why Marcelo will dissolve parliament, call early election

Marcelo will dissolve Parliament in December and called early elections for March 10

There are five key reasons that President Marcelo cited were behind his decision to dissolve Portugal’s parliament and call an early election for March 10, as he explained in his speech to the Portuguese people yesterday evening.

Number one on the list is the “nature of the vote” in the 2022 elections which gave the Socialist Party (PS) a majority in Parliament. In other words, the Portuguese people voted for António Costa. Said Marcelo, the result of the last elections was due to Prime Minister António Costa and his own “leadership, electoral campaign and crushing victory.” This is the “price of the great victories which are inevitably personal and intentionally personalised,” said the president.

Secondly, Marcelo believes that a new majority government with another (PS) prime minister would effectively be “weak”, and that the new PM would not be “politically and personally legitimised by the popular vote.”

This leads into his third reason: in the past, Portugal had already seen a government weakened by the loss of its Prime Minister (when Durão Barroso stepped down as PM in 2004 to become next president of the European Commission, he was replaced by Santana Lopes only for the then president, Jorge Sampaio, to dissolve parliament four months later). Hoping that Portugal has learned its lesson, Marcelo said that creating a new, weakened government would likely postpone the “inevitable” to a worse moment, with a “more critical situation and a more unpredictable outcome.” A new government would essentially be a “presidential government, backed by the President of the Republic, which Marcelo believes would “weaken the role of the president at a time when the president should be an internal and external reference.”

His fourth argument justified the date set for the dissolution of parliament (the start of December), which will give the government time to vote on the 2024 State Budget (on November 29), providing the country with the “indispensable economic and social stability” it needs. Its approval will also pave the way for the execution of the Recovery and Resilience Plan (PRR), which Marcelo warned “will not and cannot stop”. The president also explained that he tried to dissolve parliament and call early elections as fast as possible, but that the dates set were to give the government enough time to prepare the “changes in its leadership, as has happened in the past.”

Last but not least, Marcelo said that his decisions will provide “more clarity and a more vigorous path to overcome an unexpected void” which António Costa’s resignation has created, and which will be resolved by giving the power to choose a new government back to the people, without any “drama or fear.”

In his speech, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa thanked António Costa for his decision to step down and for his “decades of service to the public cause,” especially during the “long and demanding years” of the pandemic and wars in Ukraine and Middle East.

He added that he hopes that the Public Prosecutor’s Office will work “fast” to clarify this case, always respecting the “presumption of innocence.”

By Michael Bruxo

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