Left-wing “agreement” in place as coalition’s four-year programme comes up for debate

What promises to be one of the most nail-biting weeks in the history of Portuguese democracy has just begun.

As SIC notícias explains this morning, left-wing parties are meeting before lunch today to finalise the “agreement” that should signal the fall of the Portugal’s minority centre-right coalition.

But still nothing is certain. President of the Republic Cavaco Silva has up until now shown himself to be extremely unwilling to accept that the majority of the population that voted, voted for left-wing parties.

Falling back on the Constitution, he has taken the line that the party that received the most votes should govern, even if it can be overturned on every issue.

The Portugal à Frente (PAF) four-year programme is thus finally coming up for debate from 3pm this afternoon.

SIC explains that voting will then take place “at the end of the afternoon on Tuesday”, at which point “it is certain” that there will be motions of rejection presented by the PS, Bloco Esquerda, PCP (communists) and Os Verdes (the Green Party).

PAF will then become a “caretaker government” until Cavaco has met with all the parties involved, yet again – very possibly starting with this straight away on Wednesday.

Cavaco will still have three options, says the station: he can swear António Costa in as the new prime minister, he can leave Passos Coelho in charge of a “caretaker government” until the results of the upcoming presidential elections in January or, “the most remote possibility”, he can put in place what is called “a government of presidential initiative” until Portugal’s next president is in a position to call new elections at the beginning of next summer.

Meantime, the political fever fanned by national media sees pages given over to what will happen “if” a left-wing government comes to power.

The most “positive aspects” have been heavily plugged over the weekend: IVA for restaurants would be brought back to 13% (from the current unpopular 23% that has seen so many businesses flounder) on January 1, and “confiscations” of family homes for those who fall into debt would be outlawed.

Explaining that, since 2014, 5,891 families have lost their homes due to debts to the State, a proposal by the left-wing parties is that this will no longer be allowed to happen.

People also who have fallen behind on mortgage payments will be allowed to give their properties back to the banks “whether the banks want them or not” to liquidate their debts, explained Correio da Manhã over the weekend.

And to “help families pay their debts at a time when credit is difficult, an ‘ethical bank’ is to be created to concede credit to small businesses at low rates of interest”.

These are just some of the 51 measures that comprise the PS programme, given its blessing by the BE, PCP and PEV, adds CM.

Others involve “gradually increasing the minimum wage to €600” by the end of the legislature; throttling back in tranches on IRS payments, unfreezing pensions, making ‘green receipts’ more accessible to the self-employed and bringing in a ceiling on rates’ (IMI) payments.

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