Government will prove a failure, says former minister

A sociologist and former government minister has predicted that the current José Sócrates government will be a failure and of short duration.

In an interview with the current affairs magazine Focus, Dr António Barreto, who was Minister for Commerce, Tourism and Agriculture between 1976 and 1978, said that Portuguese politicians had a terrible tendency to make “banal appeals” rather than “leading by example”.

He added that Portuguese politicians were too demagogic and convinced that they were “well received by the people”.

“The lack of public participation in elections, in public life and increasing abstentions mean that politicians should realise they are responsible for the fall in public participation,” he said.

“One thing is certain: this government does not have the political conditions to serve a complete four-year term, one with direction and firmness.”

Dr António Barreto said that corruption was “endemic” in Portugal but not incurable, that the judicial system was “too slow” with many political figures embroiled in corruption cases, while judicial bodies, which had enormous power, were “extremely closed” and “self regulating”.

The former minister said that corruption was “getting worse” in a country where getting advantage through “who you knew” rather than through merit and competition was widespread.

“Portugal can be a viable country but its survival can’t be taken for granted. The Portuguese have committed many errors, they’ve become poorer, they don’t know how to organise themselves while the better qualified will seek work abroad,” he warned.

Do you have a view on this subject? Please email Editor Inês Lopes at [email protected]