PAN's slogan:
PAN's slogan: "If animals are your cause, PAN is your party". The party actually stands for a lot more, particularly environmental sustainability

PAN to hold ninth party congress with leader, sole MP under attack

PAN ‘lost’ MPs under current leader Inês Sousa Real

PAN, the People Animals Nature party that made such strides in the early days when it had just one MP in parliament (André Silva) is a very different beast today: reduced from a heyday with four MPs back to one, party leader Inês Sousa Real, and ridden with internal conflict. Tomorrow, Saturday, will see the 9th national congress, in Matosinhos, Porto, where Sousa Real will fight to retain her position against Nelson Silva, representing militants under the banner “More PAN, Agir para Renover (Act to Renew)”.

The congress has been called to decide a number of issues, not just the party leader. As reports explain, it will set out to define the party’s political orientation and strategy for the coming years.

136 delegates are expected to participate, all elected on lists by the regional and district assemblies.

Nelson Silva was in fact part of Inês Sousa Real’s inner circle until February last year, when he and others resigned, alleging “internal democratic asphyxia” of the party.

Since that moment, PAN’s stability has been at issue – just as in the wider political context, much appears in flux.

Says Lusa, Inês Sousa Real believes she is the one to continue the considerable workload for PAN causes. She believes she can count on people “with experience and continuity”, but hopes also to present a renewed list of people “who bring added value” to the party, if she is re-elected. She says her main objectives for another terms are to “guarantee that PAN is the environmentalist party of reference in Portugal” and that “it does not move away from its political genesis, animal protection as a priority axis” – joining the European Green Party (the European political party that represents national parties from across Europe that share Green values) and at an electoral level “to recover the votes that have already been PAN’s and that have migrated to other parties” as well as “work to capture people who have a vote in the centre.”

Silva, for his part, points out in his strategy motion that PAN is going through “the biggest crisis in its still short history” following two “electoral defeats” in the last local and legislative elections.

The candidate for party leader names as the “primary mission” is to prepare PAN for “electoral recovery” in the next elections; “to strategically prepare the party to recover the electorate lost in 2022” as well as to once again see MPs elected to the Madeira regional assembly and to the European Parliament.

In his motion, Silva also argues for the need to convey to voters the “image of a party (that is) demanding towards the (PS Socialist) Government, namely in the negotiation of the State Budget and in the use of political monitoring tools”, not “soft, docile, and able to manipulate”, like the ‘Greens’.

As Lusa concludes, Inês Sousa Real’s watch hasn’t just been marked by a reduction in popular support. She herself has come under fire for her connection to berry farming companies. It was this that started ‘rocking PAN’s boat’, with various calls for her resignation, including by her predecessor, the former MP who essentially took PAN to its first taste of ‘glory’.

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