Opposition “circles” as PM grabs one week’s holiday

As the saying goes, a “week is a long time in politics” – particularly if you spend it on the beach when the country you are in charge of is thrust into international headlines for all the wrong reasons.

Portugal’s soundbytes this week are not about the recovering economy. They are about who can be blamed for organisational failures of Pedrógão Grande (click here) and how thieves could have made off from a Santarém army base with enough explosives and military hardware to mount a major terrorist attack (click here).

Quick to take advantage of prime minister António Costa’s ‘short break from the front line’, CDS-PP leader Assunção Cristas has eloquently called for the dismissal of both the minister of internal administration (hugely criticised for her apparent weak-hold on logistics throughout the deadly fires) and the minister of defence (who has, admittedly, accepted political responsibility for the explosives heist.

According to reports, while Costa has been sunning himself on a Spanish Balearic island beach, his ‘deputy’ – foreign affairs minister Augusto Santos Silva – has been deluged with urgent demands for explanation from other countries concerned that Portugal’s ‘missing explosives’ could end up blowing sizeable holes on their national territory.

For now, this could be a case of the ‘silly season’ coming early, along with stultifying summer temperatures.

Certainly, Costa has not reacted to Cristas’ challenge, and the two ministers are still at their respective desks – though CMTV has suggested that Costa is considering a reshuffle while he enjoys his time at the beach.

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