Portuguese look to former colonies as economic crisis bites.jpg

Portuguese look to former colonies as economic crisis bites

By CHRIS GRAEME chris.graeme@algarveresident.com

Successive economic crises in Portugal since 2002 have led the Portuguese to place less faith in the European Union and focus their hopes on the Portuguese speaking world and Portugal’s former colonies, according to a Survey on International Politics debated at the British Embassy in Lisbon last week.

Presented by the British Embassy’s Economic Officer Hugo Marques and Head of Public Affairs and Press Relations Manuela Romano de Castro, the survey, which was organised by the embassy in conjunction with the Universidade Católica, aimed to discover what Portuguese people thought about a number of international political questions.

It was discovered, among other things, that the Portuguese believed that the defence of democracy and human rights should be the main objective of foreign policy, while almost three quarters of those canvassed believed that climate change was “very serious”.

Around two thirds of those quizzed thought that globalisation brought more advantages than disadvantages, while when asked which countries Portugal should most support, Angola topped the list with 24 per cent, followed by the other Portuguese speaking countries Mozambique (18 per cent), Guinea Bissau (14 per cent) and Cape Verde (10 per cent) with Brazil at three per cent and Spain at one per cent. Other European Union countries didn’t feature.

When it came to nuclear energy, 52 per cent thought Portugal should invest in nuclear energy to reduce the country’s dependency on imported fossil fuels, while 56 per cent blamed governments (rather than bankers) for the financial crisis (26 per cent) or consumers’ bad spending and credit habits (17 per cent).

Forty-three per cent thought that governments should be spending less on public works projects even in the crisis, as against 20 per cent who wanted more spending, while although 61 per cent believed globalisation brought more advantages than disadvantages, unemployment was considered the biggest disadvantage in that (10 per cent). 

Focusing on the EU and expenses, 55 per cent thought most should go on education and research and development, 30 per cent on security and justice, 27 per cent on help to Europe’s poorest regions, yet only a contradictory 19 per cent on climate change and the environment.

On NATO priorities, 51 per cent believed fighting terrorism was most important, 48 per cent on resolving international conflicts and 40 per cent on fighting drug trafficking.

Sixty-nine per cent knew what NATO was and did, while women in lower social classes over the age of 55 were less likely to understand what NATO was all about.

Teresa de Sousa, a political analyst, said that while Portugal was in favour of the European Union, globalisation and major international organisations, the Portuguese began to turn their attentions to Portuguese-speaking countries because of successive crises.

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