In another scathing diatribe delivered from Évora jail, former Socialist leader José Sócrates has accused the nation’s prime minister – currently in major hot water over his tax and social security payments – of being “close to moral depravity”.
Considering that Sócrates is well tucked away behind bars, the personal attack is unlikely to do much to break Passos Coelho’s stride – unlike the nine questions over his failure to pay tax and social security deductions over a period of five years.
The questions, which the Socialists attempted to table in parliament, were initially vetoed by the PSD/CDS-PP majority, on the basis that they “violated parliamentary rules”.
But the decision has simply spurred MPs into haranguing the PM personally.
The controversy follows revelations that Passos Coelho not only neglected to pay social security contributions on time (see: https://www.portugalresident.com/portugal%E2%80%99s-pm-%E2%80%9Cupbeat%E2%80%9D-over-election-race-as-opposition-demands-answers-over-five-year-tax-arrears), he also failed to declare a total of €6,000 to the tax department, from 2003-2007.
The details – covered by Expresso – have seen the prime minister’s office deliver a statement declaring that “everything has been resolved” – but as newspapers point out, this does not actually explain anything.
Under fire from all sides in this pre-election period, Passos Coelho took the opportunity of a conference for the PSD’s youth arm JSD to declare that he might not be perfect, but he had never used his position to “become wealthy, lend favours or live beyond (his) means”.
This was the remark that so enraged Sócrates in his flea-ridden cell (see: https://www.portugalresident.com/s%C3%B3crates%E2%80%99-prison-cell-%E2%80%9Cinvaded-by-fleas%E2%80%9D), as he recognised it as a direct reference to himself and the alleged crimes for which he is being held in preventive custody.
To “attack a political adversary who is in prison to defend himself against unjust imputations, the prime minister does not simply confirm that he is not a perfect citizen, he shows his character to be close to moral melt-down”, was the loose translation of Sócrates’ criticism, delivered to Diário de Notícias, Jornal de Notícias and TSF radio station.
Sócrates went on to denounce Passos Coelho’s declarations as “a desperate moment” while under fire for “failure to comply with his own obligations” as a taxpayer.
And so the political ping-pong between PSD and PS continues, with the nation’s PM saying he is “prepared for anything” as the months count down towards looming elections.
By NATASHA DONN [email protected]