Online petition demands Passos Coelho’s “immediate dismissal” over tax controversy

The ongoing furore over how Portuguese prime minister Pedro Passos Coelho ‘forgot’ to pay his taxes shows no signs of abating as an online petition demanding his immediate dismissal gathers over 18,700 signatures in a matter of days.

So far (Thursday lunchtime) 18,773 people have signed the public petition, directed at President Cavaco Silva (http://peticaopublica.com/pview.aspx?pi=PT76298).

As the online Economic Times reports, this is “far more than the 4,000 signatures needed to force a parliamentary debate”.

Meantime, Socialist leader António Costa has been explaining why he has not joined the calls for political consequences for Passos Coelho’s “lapse”, affecting personal tax declarations between the years of 2003-2007.

The problem, he told Diário de Notícias, is that both President Cavaco Silva and the parliamentary majority support the PM.

Even though opposition parties have been baying for everything from “detailed explanations” to outright dismissal, it is unlikely to cause Passos Coelho to budge.

Indeed, the PSD leader referred to the fact that the controversy hasn’t caused his authority “to be in the least bit damaged” when he faced accusations in parliament yesterday.

As the issue is picked up by international media, Socialist leader António Costa told journalists that it is now very much up to the Portuguese public – which has the future in its hands with a looming general election.

Adding that political change in Portugal would “help change the European chess games”, he added that Europe was “killing itself” with its current policies.

DN used the opportunity to outline a few of the Socialist ‘pledges’ for a manifesto that may not be fully revealed before July.

Top of the list is “integral repositioning of civil service salaries and pensions, followed by an increase in the minimum wage, special employment programmes for young people and the lowering of IVA to 13% for restaurants – a promise that will delight tens of thousands of struggling businesses that have been calling for an IVA re-think since the government raised levels to 23% in 2012.

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