Cavaco Silva

Former Portuguese president puts boot into “disjointed, directionless” government

“Specialists in lying, propaganda and tricks”

Portugal’s former president Aníbal Cavaco Silva has today accused the country’s absolute majority Socialist government of being experts in “lies and propaganda”, and leading the country towards (further) impoverishment.

Now well into his 80s, the former president was speaking at the close of the 3rd National Meeting of Social-Democratic Mayors (ASD) in Lisbon, which was attended by President of the PSD social democrats, Luís Montenegro, and Mayor of Lisbon, Carlos Moedas, among other party figures.

Referring to the surreal picture of political leadership emerging from the parliamentary inquiry into management decisions at flagship airline TAP, he questioned whether “ “it would be possible for a government to stoop so low in terms of political ethics.

“For a month there has not been a day – in the press or on television – when there has not been a demonstration that the government lies”, he said. 

“Not having any work to present”, the Government “considers that the important thing is to have a good propaganda centre” with the objective of “disinforming, conditioning, deluding, anaesthetising and deceiving citizens, seeking to hide the situation to which it has led the country”.

“We see, we hear and we read about the disastrous state intervention in TAP. I only say, mayors, ask the Portuguese if they ever imagined that it would be possible for a Government to sink so low in terms of political ethics and contempt for national interests?”

“About TAP there has been talk of abuse of power and the millions wasted”, he said, suggesting there were many more millions to speak of.

The Socialist government led by António Guterres “left the country in a swamp”; the PS government led by José Sócrates “left the country bankrupt”; while the Socialist government of António Costa, despite European support, “will leave the next Government with an extremely heavy inheritance.

“As the Prime Minister does not exercise the competencies explicitly attributed to him by the Constitution, and as the Government is a disjointed and directionless collection of ministers and secretaries of state, incapable of dealing with social tension and interest groups, its tendency will be to hand out pennies and buy votes and to pour money on top of problems rather than prepare a better future for Portugal”, said the seasoned politician, adding that “the ideology that guides the government’s action boils down to remaining in power and controlling the State apparatus, without considering the means”.

In terms of ideology, the Government is a vacuum, the word “Socialist” is just a slogan. In the public words and attitudes of government members, competence is scarce; populism and hypocrisy abound”.

It could hardly have been a worse summing up of weeks of political chaos powered by the ‘meltdown’ following the TAP ‘golden handshake scandal’ – and it went on for a reported 40 minutes.

PS parliamentary spokesman Eurico Brilhante Dias – the same man who said only days ago that Brussels’ upgraded economic predictions were “the mirror of a well-governed country, on the right track” – did his best to temper the sting of Cavaco’s tirade, labelling it “offensive language and antidemocratic”.

Much more expected over the next few days, as opposition parties round on the PS executive. Leader of IL (Iniciativa Liberal), Rui Rocha, has vowed to do ‘everything he can’ to ensure the government falls. Even former PCP leader Jerónimo de Sousa has ‘re-emerged’ from political retirement to say the equivalent of ‘enough’s enough’…

Silent so far are both the prime minister, and President Marcelo.