President Marcelo has declared January 24 as the date for Portugal’s presidential elections – on the last ‘legal day’ for doing so. And he is still holding out on presenting his own (second and final five-year) candidacy.
Say reports, Marcelo isn’t expected to make that announcement until “a few weeks before the country goes to the polling booths”.
The air of ‘mystery’ surrounding whether or not Portugal’s garrulous head of State will put himself up for a second mandate has been a topic of political conversation for months now, with few doubting that he won’t. But the lack of certainty has added to the unorthodox feeling of this contest which otherwise has a field of candidates unlikely to attain their ‘target’.
The only true heavyweight is former MEP and life-long Socialist Ana Gomes – a tireless voice against corruption in all its forms. Yet the Socialist party hasn’t given her its support. Indeed, it hasn’t fielded a candidate at all – on the basis that PM António Costa thinks President Marcelo has been doing a sterling job.
Says Diário de Notícias today, the next presidential term will certainly not be “a walk in the park”. There is the pandemic still running, various political and economic crises, and the next budget – which will be every bit as complicated to see passed as the current one, to be voted on on Thursday.
As to the candidates – beyond those fielded by other parties – there is Ms Gomes ‘nemesis’ in the form of André Ventura – the right-wing MP for Chega who has been stirring up the political scene since taking his seat last year (click here).
Ventura has said that he will ‘resign’ if he fields less votes than Ana Gomes, which a lot of people will be hoping he does.
Meantime, very soon after the presidential elections – which only see the new term starting in March – come municipal elections. As newspapers are explaining, it will be a ‘busy year’, with Portugal also assuming the rotating presidency of the European Union at a time when the funds for Europe’s plan for recuperation and resilience may still be far from materialising (due to wrangles ongoing with Hungary and Poland).
Says Diário de Notícias, “it will be an exhausting year for the government which will require a very attentive President of the Republic”.