A news item receiving almost zero exposure in Portugal today is the vow made by labour minister José Vieira da Silva that the country’s new left-wing government is “seeking to reinstate hundreds of civil servants who had been on leave of absence under the former conservative leaders”.
Publicising the intention, apparently made over the air on Sunday, is the Lisbon office of Agence France Presse.
As the AFP desk explained, it is “the latest in a string of pledges by the government of Prime Minister António Costa”, and came during an interview with Antena 1 radio station.
“We will do all we can to reinstate” civil servants affected by the previous government’s cost-cutting measures, said Vieira da Silva, not actually going into any of the specifics.
“Some 500 to 600 will be put at the disposal of social security administration,” he said, while he gave no information on how many would actually be given jobs, added the news service.
The government’s plan is to “repair the damage” caused by the last government, said the minister.
AFP explains that “at the end of September, some 845 of Portugal’s once untouchable civil servants had no post, and therefore received only 40-60% of their original salaries”.
Despite the fact that news services have been loathe to pick up on this latest political cameo, PM Costa is today riding high in opinion polls which have elected him Portugal’s Figure of the Year.
Behind the scenes, however, former PM Pedro Passos Coelho is certainly not giving up.
In an interview with Público published on Saturday, he said he sees himself, “for the next two years”, as the leader of the strongest party in Opposition, and as such a candidate for a future prime minister.
Even more revealing was the fact that he “rejected” the idea of a fusion with his former coalition allies, the CDS – the party with which the PSD fought its last electoral campaign under the ill-fated slogan: Portugal à Frente.