Eight years of PS government and housing, education, health are all in crisis, with tax burdens at an all time high
Eight years of PS government and housing, education, health are all in crisis, with tax burdens at an all time high

PM accused of misusing notion of ‘urgency’ to plough on with housing diploma

PM “defying president, society, young people, those in need”, says Opposition leader

As it has become clear that PS Socialists have no intention of changing their unpopular housing diploma, in spite of the presidential veto, the leader of Portugal’s main opposition Social Democratic Party (PSD), Luís Montenegro, has accused the prime minister, António Costa, of “having lost the notion of urgency“.

In a speech in Macedo de Cavaleiros, in Bragança district, the PSD leader recalled that “urgency” was the argument put forward by Mr Costa and the PS absolute majority, accusing them of “defying the Portuguese people who don’t agree with those rules” – including “the President of the Republic” and “the vast majority of political parties.

“People have lost all sense of ridicule, lucidity and even shame,” he said. “How can a party, a prime minister, say that he’s affronting all these people because the matter is urgent when he’s been in office for eight years? Why in those eight years have they not been able to present a plan for housing in Portugal?”

Luís Montenegro also pointed to the “urgency” of “saving the National Health Service, which has never been as bad as it is now” as well as State schools which have been beset with strikes since December – and will continue to see education disrupted, because of the government’s intransigence to meet syndicates even some of the way.

“Intervening in the agricultural realm, dealing with irrigation and organising the forest” are other areas Mr Montenegro cited as needing urgent action , along with “the phenomenon of immigration and integrating people who are needed in Portugal (…) lowering taxes, stopping suffocating people, families and companies, especially young people.

“So, Dr António Costa, the question of defying the President of the Republic, all the other parties, society, young people, those in need, the question is that you have lost your sense of urgency,” Montenegre said. “You’ve forgotten that you’ve been prime minister for eight years and that all this was urgent one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight years ago, which is how long you and the PS have led Portugal’s government.”

Since president Marcelo’s minutely explained veto of the government’s housing diploma, both the PS parliamentary leader and the housing minister have stressed the diploma will simply be returned to the president for promulgation, following a second approval in parliament.

The time-frame expected is sometime before October.

Pressed for his reaction, President Marcelo – currently on a two-day visit to Poland – has said this is “democracy in action”. But Luís Montenegro’s speech, and so many others given since yesterday, show that very few people outside the Socialist party believe what is happening in Portugal today has anything to do with democracy.

As the president has pointed out, the diploma as it stands “is not sufficiently credible” in terms of short-term implementation or mobilisation”. It is not underpinned by the necessary “base of national support”.

In the words of the leader of right wing party CHEGA – which applauded the president’s veto – it has been “left perplexed that the PS is preparing, unilaterallty, and in an arrogant way” to push through with the same text as before.

CHEGA has said that if this happens, it intends to try and gather support among the country’s other political parties, to send the diploma to the Constitutional Court for inspection.

If that happens, that will be ‘democracy in action’.

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