Marcelo asks parliament to review incompatibility law surrounding MPs and business

Suggests it is time to calm the “ample controversy within Portuguese society”

President Marcelo has called time on the ‘incompatibility issues’ coming to light – at a steady pace – within the PS Socialist government.

Following various furores concerning cabinet ministers, further issues have been flagged within local government.

Says Marcelo, it is time to review the judicial regime on incompatibilities and impediments of politicians ‘if parliament considers such reflection relevant and necessary’ – which clearly he believes it is.

In a note posted on his official website today, the country’s head of State says that “the complex legislative entanglement” (meaning the grey areas raised following government ‘explanations’) “has raised broad controversy in Portuguese society, in a matter essential to the confidence of citizens in institutions”.

Marcelo’s note adds that doubts have been expressed by the Consultative Council of the Attorney General’s Office (particularly in the case of the funding received by the husband of the Minister for Territorial Cohesion). 

Indeed, doubts have been raised also by national media.

It is now a question of ‘wait and see’: PSD social democrats, for example, have suggested they see no need for the law to be reviewed. It is unlikely that other minority parties will think the same.

In many ways, President Marcelo’s statement today is a great deal tamer than the remarks he offered journalists in the gardens of Belém Palace yesterday.

Yesterday, he described the “anguish of Portuguese society” and ‘possible situations’ of “nepotism and excessive clientelistic relations”. He referred to the “sentiment of doubt on this subject matter in at least some part of society”.

The nub of the issue appears to be how far the current law allows participation of relatives and family members of politicians at all levels.

Marcelo stressed he doesn’t believe the current law causes intolerable restrictions. What should be considered now “is not only the degree of kinship, but also the degree of relationship between public entities”, for example, if “different ministries of the same government” should be treated “as if they were one”, he told reporters.

But as Portugal is not a presidential system, it must be parliament that makes these decisions, he stressed.

natasha.donn@portugalresident.com