In what was billed as very possibly his last public engagement, former president of the Republic Ramalho Eanes delivered a blistering attack on Portugal’s “epidemic of corruption”, which he blames squarely on the country’s ruling political parties.
The 84-year-old former general who held the presidency for 10 years from 1976-86 spoke for an hour in Lisbon, at the conference entitled “Portugal – the crises and the future” organised by SEDES, the association for economic and social development.
Says SIC, the room was small, and filled to bursting with ‘grey-haired men’.
Eanes – a man with so many decorations it is worth looking them up on Wikipedia – spoke of the need for electoral reform to ‘resolve the crisis of political representation’.
Stressing everyday citizens have to participate more in politics by choosing their representatives, he said democracy is diminished when they don’t “because (people’s) representatives have to work for the good of the community, the country, and each and everyone in it”.
What instead has been happening is that politicians become “delegates of parties” that “colonise public administration and their various offshoots”, namely State businesses like Caixa Geral de Depósitos.
Naming the ruling PS, PSD and “occasionally the CDS”, Eanes said the epidemic of corruption is “fed by a culture of complacency.
None of this is ‘news’, the former president agreed. But it is (high) time for change.