President Marcelo has been busy with his popular selfies. Image: Presidência da República official page
President Marcelo has been busy with his popular selfies. Image: Presidência da República official page

Portugal Day poll shows “profoundly dissatisfied country”

Housing, education, health, justice top (long) list of citizens’ gripes

Today’s national holiday, celebrating Portugal in all its forms – one of the few national holidays marked by emigré communities overseas – is overshadowed by the results of an opinion poll undertaken by Lisbon universities ICS and ISCTE for Expresso/ SIC showing a country that is “profoundly dissatisfied”.

All week news feeds have been supplied with glowing reports on bilateral agreements forged overseas as President Marcelo and the prime minister ‘take Portugal to some of its most significant communities’. Such was the PR blitz that neither figure had the occasion to address any of the issues back home.

Leaders writers today suggest it might be an idea to use this June 10 “to think of a solution for all those who suffer months or years on waiting lists for a consultation in the SNS State health service”, or for the younger generations “who have had their learning hijacked and will be limited professionals because in recent years, between the pandemic, incompetence and strikes, there have barely been any terms in which classes were properly completed.

“Perhaps this day will also be a good occasion to talk urgently about lowering taxes; resolving the lack of homes; fixing the Justice system or of the imperative necessity to draw up a plan to end the waste of water from our rivers and dams”, writes Correio da Manhã’s editorial director Carlos Rodrigues, concluding that “in short, it is time for politics/ policies to start improving…”

Today, in the interior town of Póvoa da Régua, it has been all about ‘the Portugal party…” June 10 is also Camões Day and the Day of Portuguese Communities. But tomorrow, the dismal results of that survey will still be there, waiting to be addressed.

Listing the ‘levels of dissatisfaction’, Expresso shows that:

  • 91% of the country is “little or not satisfied” over levels of taxation
  • 88% is little or not satisfied about the availability of housing
  • 79% about life in general
  • 78% about policies to combat crime
  • 76% is little of not satisfied with social mobility (even when a person is working hard…)
  • 74% with the country’s State health system (in the Algarve/ Alentejo that percentage rises to 90%)
  • 68% with the quality of education
  • 67% with the position of ethnic minorities in society
  • 67% is also little or not satisfied with the number of immigrants in Portugal
  • 61% with the way in which the environment and Nature are protected
  • 55% with the position of women in society
  • 50% with the investment in science and technology in Portugal
  • 50% also is little or not satisfied with the role Portugal plays in the world


Expresso’s interpretation of the poll stresses how, in previous polls, there was always that sentiment that Portugal offered ‘a certain quality of life’, even if financially people were struggling: “But in the ICS/ISTCE study even “quality of life” seems poorly rated, with an enormous number (79%) showing utter dissatisfaction with life in general (this percentage is even higher among the financially and educationally impoverished, says the paper).

And, in spite of the government’s self congratulating over its Mais Habitação housing programme, the reality is that everyday citizens remain massively dissatisfied.

The combatting of corruption saw an 80% level of dissatisfaction, adds the paper. “If the idea of a Justice system that doesn’t work is old, the reality is that it is difficult to disassociate this result from a government marked by cases, some of the judicial”.

This is where the paper alludes to the different levels of dissatisfaction depending on people’s political leanings. By and large, PS Socialist party sympathisers showed themselves less dissatisfied, albeit few of them are satisfied.

Different regions too had markedly different readings of the current day-to-day. For example, in the north, with regard to the SNS health service, 34% of citizens admitted to being “very or partially satisfied”. That number fell to just 8% in the Algarve, where 92% of people are “little or not satisfied” with the quality of the State health service. And in the Alentejo it fell to just 5%, with 94% “little or not satisfied”.

Education too is perceived differently depending on regions. In the north, 34% of people consider themselves to be “very or partially satisfied” with the quality of education offered by the State. That number falls to only 19% in the Algarve/ Alentejo.

CONFIDENCE in the Institutions

In this section, those questioned showed they have most confidence in the police (79%), Armed Forces (76%) their parish council (70%), the President of the Republic (69%) and their local council (65%).

Least confidence is demonstrated in feelings towards political parties (79% say they do not trust them/ have no confidence in them), the government (64% without confidence), 59% distrust parliament, 54% distrust the media, 53% distrust the Catholic Church – and 51% have no confidence in the courts.

The poll had various sections, including what influence people consider ‘ideal’ for, let’s say, businesses to influence government, and what is, in fact, ‘real’. Expresso points out that the poll was conducted before last week (when the government decided to abolish one of the most lucrative series of Savings Certificates, in an apparent move to accommodate banks) but “even so, the message is clear: large businesses count more (83%) than they should (77%) in decisions made by the government”.

Possible political reforms

This is a secion that shows citizens want more participation in political decisions (85% answered in the affirmative, while 82% want more referenda to decide ‘important matters’. There is a sizeable majority (76%) of people who want changes to the electoral system, so that people can vote more for individuals and less for parties.

As SIC concludes, “there is really no area in which there are more satisfied people than dissatisfied with the State of the Nation“.

Portugal Day razzmatazz finishes this evening with a concert “open to the public”.

President Marcelo has already given one of his speeches that can be taken on so many levels. The phrase: “cutting the dead branches that affect the whole tree” most standing out. The context here ostensibly was that “only if people don’t want it will Portugal not be eternal…”

With teachers protesting in the background – and the PM assuring good naturedly that ‘protests are part of democracy – CHEGA leader André Ventura took the bull by the horns to suggest it is high time the government not only set about fundamental reforms that the country needs, but “cuts the affected, destructive, rotten branches that the country wants it to cut” (this referring to the ongoing controversy still festering since the ‘punch-up’ at the ministry of infrastructures, and the fact that at least two ministers are “suspected of serious criminality” ).

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