N-word in Portugal’s Socialist government? Nooooo, it’s just Christmas!

A scathing attack on the “family tree” that is Portugal’s Socialist government has gone ‘viral’.

Written by controversial former Bloco de Esquerda MP Joana Amaral Dias, she quizzes: “Nepotism? Noooo, people, it’s just Christmas!”

But for anyone looking in on the makeup of Portugal’s powerbase, Amaral Dias accepts it is a tad confusing.

Her flowing commentary had to start somewhere, so she took the new secretary of state for health – appointed because the last one resigned in a developing scandal (click here).

Rosa Zorrinho is the wife of Euro MP Carlos Zorrinho. Her appointment has already set tongues wagging, not least because when she was in charge of the Alentejo health authority some fairly hefty expenses must have passed under her beady eye, including “the modest quantity of 45,000 euros for the repair of two photocopiers” (this information comes from another post that has also gone viral, by writer João Pedro Martins).

Also involved in the ongoing scandal at social solidarity institute Raríssimas is the minister of labour Vieira da Silva (due to answer burning questions in parliament on Monday) who is married to MP Sónia Fertuzinhos whose daughter “is António Costa’s assistant secretary of state”.

Then of course there is Ana Catarina Mendes, the general secretary of the PS party, an MP “married to former MP Paulo Pedroso, and sister of the secretary of state for fiscal affairs”.

The situation of the current Minister for Internal Administration is another example: Eduardo Cabrita is married to Minister of the Sea Ana Paula Vitorino – who in the past has been the party’s national secretary and even had a stint as a secretary of state (Transport, during one of the governments of José Sócrates).

Getting into her stride, Amaral Dias launches into the responsibilities of the César family. Top of the tree is Carlos, president of the Socialist Party and parliamentary leader, former regional president of the Azores, married to Luísa who held the job of coordinator at the Palaces of the Presidency while her husband was in office in the Azores, and then went on to be given the role of coordinator of the mission structure for the creation of “the House of Autonomy”, without recourse to any kind of selection process.

The César’s son Francisco, is an Azores MP in charge of the economy committee while his wife is chief of staff for the deputy regional secretary for presidential affairs.

Head reeling? There is so much more yet to come:

“Guilherme Waldemar d’Oliveira Martins is Secretary of State for Infrastructures and son of Guilherme d’Oliveira Martins”, former PS minister on multiple fronts, former president of the Accounts Court and a current director of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, “brother in law of Margarida Salema who presides over the Entity of Political Accounts and Financing whose sister is MP Helena Roseta, wife of former MP Pedro Roseta, brother in law of former minister António Capucho”.

Readers coming up for breath can relax, we’re getting close to the punchline.

Amaral Dias whistles through some other family connections: There is former MP, former MEP and former minister Elisa Ferreira who is currently holding a top job at the Bank of Portugal and who is married to Freire de Sousa, who chairs the Northern Coordination Commission.

Justice minister Francisco Van Dunem, is married to former CGD director Eduardo Paz Ferreira… (any relation to Elisa Ferreira? Joana Amaral Dias isn’t saying).

Finally, former Internal Administration minister Constança Urbano de Sousa (released under a cloud of ash following the worst fires in Portugal’s living memory) is the daughter of former ombudsman Alfredo José de Sousa, while environment minister João Pedro Matos Fernandes (the man who visited the Tejo recently and “saw no dead fish”) is the son of former Justice secretary Vera Jardim.

To be fair, the research into this extraordinary family tree was also highlighted by former candidate for the presidency Paulo Morais, earlier this year.

But the sense of disbelief is now really gaining traction.

Leader writer João Gomes de Almeida (let’s not try and work out who he could be related to) says today that it is just all getting too much.

“Never before, not even during the Estado Novo (that’s the fascist dictatorship) has our country lived in such an environment of nepotism”.

Portugal is closer today to the republics of central Africa than any European country, he writes in Jornal i.

“This is a dangerous situation and should be strongly scrutinised by public opinion…It is not a question of right or left… It is simply a question of dignity”, he concludes, suggesting:

“It’s time for the President of the Republic to take a stand”.

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