Portugal’s president insists government must extend measures of social support

President Marcelo has today rubber-stamped three diplomas insisting the government  reinforce urgent measures of social support.

Throughout last week, the government’s message was that to do so would “violate the law” over excessive spending.

Indeed on Friday prime minister António Costa said that if Marcelo promulgated the diplomas, the government would refer them to the Constitutional Court.

But Marcelo has clearly considered the threat – as well as the situation – and concluded not only that his promulgation in no way violates the Constitution, but that it is indeed urgently needed.

In taking this matter up with him last week, Bloco de Esquerda coordinator Catarina Martins explained there are people incapable of working who are expected to survive on ‘support measures’ that come to no more than €200 a month (click here).

The three diplomas call for support to be extended to ‘managing partners’ (sócio-gerentes), the self-employed, health professionals and teleworking parents with children still at home.

All were approved in parliament on March 3 with every opposition party voting in favour, against votes against by PS Socialists.

Explaining his reasoning on the official site of the presidency this evening, Marcelo said that ‘on the one hand’ the government is a minority government with a mandate running for four years. 

But on the other, “times of elections (this autumn sees municipal elections) sometimes see opposition parties seeking confrontations, particularly over sensitive social and economic issues. 

“It is incumbent on the President of the Republic to underline the importance of understanding in a full-blown pandemic affecting health, the economy and society. 

He has to “make the government aware of the need for dialogue with the opposition” and make it clear to the opposition “that no-one wins with systematic confrontation, potentially creating a damaging crisis for Portugal and the Portuguese”.

In 12 carefully-considered points, the president has put prime minister António Costa in check. 

Reacting to the news, BE’s Catarina Martins has tweeted: “The country would not understand the government insisting on reducing support to independent workers and managing partners whose activity has been halted by the pandemic. The Bloco persisted, parliament approved and the President of the Republic has promulgated. It’s a question of justice”.

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