Image: Lusa

Parliament convenes for “marathon debate” on 2024 budget

… with João Galamba, official suspect in Operation Influencer, returning as MP

Parliament reconvenes this afternoon to start the ‘marathon debate’ on the outgoing PS government’s State Budget for 2024. 

It is the first time MPs have returned to business following the resignation earlier this month of prime minister António Costa, and sees former infrastructure minister João Galamba taking up his place on the Socialist benches.

Mr Galamba ‘resigned’ as minister, following his citing as an official suspect in the probe that brought down the government, but means to continue as an MP – for the time being at least.

The situation could change if he is called to give evidence, as then he would be required to request the lifting of parliamentary immunity – and in the past similar situations have seen MPs/ ministers renounce their positions altogether (for the good of their parties).

Regarding the budget, the situation is one of constant change, as the country is now approaching the election trail, with PS Socialists ditching as many unpopular measures as they conceivably can. The party has tabled 122 proposals for changes to the document its MPs only recently approved.

The debate is expected to run for almost 40 hours over the next few days, with the final voting taking place next Wednesday (November 29).

The final vote is guaranteed to go the outgoing government’s way as it retains its absolute majority. But there are a ‘record number’ of proposals for change to get through (more than 1,900), with PCP communists leading the way, with 507, followed by CHEGA (441), PSD (307), Bloco de Esquerda (184), PAN (159) and LIVRE (153). Iniciativa Liberal is the party that has proposed the least number of changes (58). (See separate text for details of what opposition parties are hoping for.)

As the political crisis shifts this way and that, it is now clear that the dissolution of parliament will only become official in January, and that whichever party (or coalition) wins the March 10 elections will be able to present what is called a Rectifying Budget – a budget that sets out to change measures that by then will have been enshrined in law.

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