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No confidence vote filed against government

By ANA TAVARES [email protected]

Communist Party leader Jerónimo de Sousa announced last Friday that he would be filing a motion of no confidence against the Government.

During the fortnightly debate with the Prime Minister in Parliament, the PCP (Partido Comunista Português) leader said he had decided to present a no-confidence motion, the first during the government of Pedro Passos Coelho, as it was a “national priority to depart from these (austere) policies”.

Jerónimo de Sousa criticised the measures introduced by the government, saying that Portugal’s problems have nothing but worsened.

“Don’t blame external circumstances to escape from your obligations and responsibilities. We haven’t had such a recession in decades,” he addressed Pedro Passos Coelho.

The leader of the Communist Party also accused the Prime Minister of being in denial. “Do you believe that by denying reality it will cease to exist? We are worse than we were a year ago and you claim we are on the right track?” he asked as he held the Government accountable for promoting “a false success that is completely out of the country’s context”.

Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho replied by saying that the government was satisfied with the path it had chosen, adding: “Thanks to this, Portugal is now looked upon with respect.”

After presenting the no-confidence motion, Jerónimo de Sousa turned against the Socialist Party (PS) during a press conference on the same day, saying that the PCP would not understand if the PS decided to vote against it. Putting aside concerns of political instability due to the motion, the Communist leader said that “social instability is a much more serious issue” and went on to list the many social and economic consequences caused by the government’s austerity programme.

The motion of no confidence, which will be debated in Parliament on June 25, triggered a number of reactions from several party members and other public figures. That same day, Francisco Louçã, leader of the Left Wing party Bloco de Esquerda (BE), claimed that “there are very good reasons to present a motion of no confidence against the Government”.

Miguel Relvas, Assistant Minister and of Parliamentary Affairs, said: “It is a right of the opposition (to file a motion of no confidence) but also a responsibility that they have to deal with, both when presenting the motion and voting for or against it.”

The following day, Portugal’s President Aníbal Cavaco Silva explained that filing a no-confidence motion is a “constitutional right”, but added that “it is of the utmost importance for the country to preserve its political stability”.

The issue has also had repercussions in Spain, with the Spanish Communist Party leader, José Luís Centella, saying that the Portuguese no-confidence motion is against all European Union governments “who comply with the capital dictatorship”.

The last motion of no confidence presented in Parliament was launched by the BE party against the government of José Sócrates on March 10 last year.