PM embarks on ‘mini government reshuffle’
A long-term member of government, albeit in a minor rule, João Neves was reportedly "not expecting to be leaving at this point" (Expresso)

PM embarks on ‘mini government reshuffle’

Secretaries of State shown door

Government reshuffles can be ‘exciting’ (for those who follow politics), but Tuesday’s bit of shuffling has been quite the opposite. In fact it was so unexciting that after announcing who has been shown the door, SIC has sought to clarify his identity (as almost no casual observer will have heard of him).

Worse, the news was not ‘complete’. 

Sources like Expresso hinted that more shuffling may take place – which it did

Indeed, Expresso didn’t labour the word ‘reshuffle’, plumping more for the description of  ‘a cleansing’.

To release readers from any further suspense, names given early on Tuesday were Secretary of State for the Economy João Neves (the man for whom SIC has given a whole section entitled “Who is João Neves?”) and Secretary of State for Tourism Rita Marques, whose dropping from government had still not at that point been ‘officially’ confirmed.

Both, according to Expresso, had ‘fallen out’ in some way or other with their immediate boss, economy minister António Costa Silva. The paper refers to neither showing up in parliament when Mr Silva appeared before parliamentary inquiries, and both ‘correcting’ pronouncements he made about a possible change in IRC taxation.

“António Costa had to chose between ministers and helpers. He opted to politically reinforce António Costa Silva, who had been fragilised in public” by the declarations of his secretaries of State.

So, with one secretary of State officially named, and another (Rita Marques) unofficially marked, was that an end to the shenanigans? No, they continued into the evening, with various new names coming forwards (again most of them ‘unknowns’ outside the corridors of power).

João Neves replacement is to be Pedro Cilínio (formerly of IAPMEI, the government’s agency for competitiveness and innovation), with MP Nuno Fazenda taking over from Rita Marques.

Former Treasury secretary António Mendonça Mendes is also moving into the space created by the resignation of the former mayor of Caminha, caught out in a potentially ‘dodgy business deal’ that has now been overturned.

As Expresso stressed on Tuesday, everything had to be done in time for … the next Portugal game in Qatar, to which the prime minister will be flying on Thursday. 

Does the government emerge the stronger for all this shuffling? Popular tabloid Correio da Manhã suggests that it finally draws a line under secretaries of state not supporting their ministers: “Rome has returned to not rewarding traitors”, suggests director Carlos Rodrigues in his Wednesday ‘post card’.

natasha.donn@portugalresident.com