Portugal’s looming borough lockdowns “absolutely illegal”, says presidential candidate

Presidential candidate and lawyer Tiago Mayan Gonçalves has told Público and Rádio Renascença this week that the borough lockdowns coming into place at one minute past midnight tonight are “absolutely illegal” and “patently unconstitutional”.

Accusing prime minister António Costa of being “authoritarian”, Mr Gonçalves – standing for Iniciativa Liberal – accuses Portugal’s current Head of State of being “totally absent”.

“This prohibition on mobility between boroughs is so patently unconstitutional that I am perplexed that the President, who is a constitutionalist, is not saying this out loud”, he said.

In Mr Gonçalves’ opinion, President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa should have put the resolution approved by the Council of Ministers last week to the Constitutional Court.

Indeed, he is so convinced of the basic ‘illegality’ of the decision that he has offered to “help anyone who may be affected by the restrictions imposed by the government”.

As we have reported earlier this week, there are a number of exceptions to the rules coming into place for the next five days (click here). But even so, many feel unnecessarily confined and furious.

Mr Goncalves, 43 – from Porto – told Público/ RR: “As a citizen and a lawyer, I will be ready to defend any citizen who sees his/ her right to freedom of circulation constrained this weekend. 

“This generic prohibition is absolutely illegal, and a sign that the government does not feel limited in what it thinks it can do. It does not feel limited by the Constitution and this is a lapse that cannot be accepted”.

Talking specifically about the prime minister, Mr Gonçalves told his interviewers that António Costa “says he doesn’t like being authoritarian”. This doesn’t apply “if people do not do what he says – and this is clear confirmation that he does like being authoritarian”.

Candidate in a presidential ‘race’ going on almost in silence due to the pandemic, Mr Gonçalves stressed the country is witnessing “a lot of bad decisions by the government to the pandemic”.

His words will have put even more fire in the bellies of many who have taken to the streets recently to protest measures put in place without any form of democratic debate.

As we write, new protests are forming in Lisbon against what people see as the likely declaration of a new State of Emergency ‘coming any day’.

Their arguments are that the virus is not a good enough excuse to remove people’s basic rights and freedoms particularly as it has such high survival rates.

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