The ruling PSD/ CDS parties couldn’t even scrape 30% of the country’s vote and pundits say the results “raise serious questions over whether the Executive can continue on the same path for the next year and a half before judgement day (the general election) in 2015”.
But, even though Socialist leader António José Seguro proclaimed “this government has come to an end” – and the PCP Communist Party has presented a motion of censure against the Government to be debated in Parliament – it is nowhere near this simple.
The Socialist “victory” was lacklustre in the extreme – some say due to the last minute electioneering of José Sócrates, which they claim “horrified voters and showed the essential weakness of Seguro”.
Political commentators maintain the Socialist leader should have been able to run the campaign on his own, without resorting to bringing out his disgraced predecessor. Thus, there is now an embarrassing leadership struggle ongoing with party leaders having to decide where their loyalties should lie.
One name has emerged that might – just might – take the Socialist Party the distance it needs to win in the next elections. The name is António Costa. He is a lawyer, seasoned politician and currently the tough-talking, no-nonsense mayor of Lisbon.
Intriguingly, Costa maintained a low profile during the Euro election campaign. He wasn’t even in evidence on Sunday night as the fairly dismal results started coming in – but his comment that the Socialist “victory” needed pondering was seen by those-in-the-know as the starting point of his leadership bid.
Without ‘pondering’ – and a good bit of political manoeuvring – pollsters maintain that the Socialists have little hope of winning the next election with a clear majority. In other words, the party would need “a crutch”, writes political commentator José Rodrigues – and although crutches might be in plentiful supply, hopes are for a sprint to General Election victory, not a hobble.
Costa is known to be taking part in a special meeting of the party in Torres Vedras at the weekend, and as Correio da Manhã reports: “Some party leaders admit this is the starting point for the mayor of Lisbon”. But Seguro is not going to give up without a fight and CM carried an exclusive on Wednesday hinting at all manner of political skulduggery playing out behind the scenes.
Meantime, the coalition parties are working overtime at assuring all and sundry that it is “business as usual”.
“The Government’s mission is to take this legislature to the end”, prime minister Passos Coelho declared somewhat obliquely on Sunday night.
To what end, questions CMTV commentator Joana Amaral Dias. The weekend’s results were “the worst for the Portuguese right since April 25, 1974” and the PSD/CDS have used up “many of their grenades and propaganda triumphs”.
Writing in CM on Monday, Dias maintains: “From here until the elections, the executive will naturally continue seeking to paint the destruction of Portuguese life as a success. But it will be more difficult. Interest on the debt may increase, the economy may falter in its take off and, on top of all this, the spectre of a second bailout will haunt the country.”
As former PS leader Ferro Rodrigues claims President Cavaco Silva should be calling early elections, Cavaco himself is staying tight-lipped while others in power are doing their best to maintain that all is as it should be.
Economy minister António Pires de Lima told reporters: “The results show that the PSD/CDS-PP, the parties that support the Government, are in conditions of power to win the challenge that we will all be faced with in the elections taking place in October of 2015.”
|| Portugal’s 21 MEPs
In a nutshell, the PS has eight MEPs, the PS/CDS managed seven between them, the CDU secured three, the Left Bloc lost ground and kept only one, and the big surprise was the success of the MPT-Partido da Terra (Earth Party) which won its first major victory with legal eagles Marinho Pinto and José Faria.
Portugal’s MEPs will all have a gross salary of €8,020 a month, with other subsidies and transport perks added on. They will receive €304 a day when they take part in official meetings and there is €4,299 a month paid out to cover office expenses in Portugal.
For office expenses in Brussels, writes CM, MEPs will receive €21,209 to spend per month. On top of this, all official travels are reimbursed, adds the paper.
By NATASHA DONN [email protected]