Olhão mayor in major political embarrassment

Olhão mayor António Pina is suddenly hemmed in from all sides. Not long ago lauded in the local press for being the “champion of Ria Formosa islanders”, he has suddenly found himself in a major planning wrangle that could see the council paying hundreds of thousands in compensation to a British couple duped into building a house on public maritime land (click here) – and now has his own political party refusing to endorse his re-candidacy in October.

Like many Algarve mayors, Pina was planning to ‘go the distance’ – three terms of four years each.

But members of the political commission of Olhão PS (Socialist) party appear to have (had) different ideas.

A tense meeting last week ended with the party apparently revealing a list of candidates for the municipal elections “not headed by Pina”. The mayor shortly afterwards ‘walked out’.

Portuguese website Sulinformação carries the most comprehensive report on the shenanigans, saying Pina explained later that once the proposal of his name as candidate for the top job was quashed, “there were no conditions to discuss lists”.

The way ahead normally is to “first approve the name of the (mayoral) candidate, “and then the constitution of the list” of other candidates, he added.

Trying to gloss over the upset, president of Olhão’s PS party Luciano Jesus has said there now needs to be “serenity” after which he is quite sure Pina will once again be chosen to lead the way.

Meantime, the issue has been handed to “a technical commission of three people”: Portimão mayoress Isilda Gomes, and Algarve PS MPs Luís Graça and Fernando Anastácio.

This task force is expected to sift through the mire of recriminations over the next few weeks, to reach an understanding “with calm and serenity”, António Eusébio, president of PS/ Algarve has told Sulinformação – stressing that in his mind at least, this is not an issue “that generates concern”.

Of course, Eusébio was not talking for the likes of Olhão Livre – a swingeing local blog that has been attacking Pina relentlessly for years.

According to the blog, Pina’s fellow Socialists feel that since he took power he has turned his back on his party, getting the “majority of his decisions” through with favourable votes from Opposition PSD.

Indeed, Olhão Livre’s latest post claims to be representing a letter received from an Olhão PS party member in which the anonymous writer claims “Pina and the PSD in Olhão have been running this council entirely at their own pleasure”.

It is an acrimonious situation made worse by the planning mess that Pina now faces in Armona, and other stories that have piqued controversy in Olhão for years involving members of the council condemned for malpractice and corruption.

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