A former university boss who claims he will strive to be “everything Cavaco was not” has been confirmed as the ninth official candidate in the race for the presidency.
António Sampaio da Nóvoa has never been a politician before but has thrown his hat into the ring saying a president should not just “stand by and watch the degradation of a country”.
It is this he claims Cavaco has done as the country is assailed by “situations of poverty, unemployment and social exclusion”, all of which, he stresses, have been brought about by the government’s extreme measures of austerity – a programme that has already been dubbed “more German than Germany” in its unbending stringency.
Rector of Lisbon university during the years of 2006-2013, Nóvoa announced his candidacy vowing he will never cave to pressure from “big groups or corporations, no matter who they are”, and instead be a president who is “close to the people”.
His words have seen political commentators tip him as the most likely “main choice” of Portugal’s left wing.
Former president Jorge Sampaio has already backed him, saying Nóvoa has “all the right traits for a president” and that “the country needs someone who can represent a cause”.
Joining the ranks of the other “independents” who have announced their willingness to run (see list below), Nóvoa will now embark on his strategy for the race that will only get going once this year’s elections are out of the way.
The ‘presidentials’, as they are called here, will take place just after New Year after Cavaco Silva comes to the end of a second and final term.
Portuguese presidents are not allowed to run for more than two mandates, and indeed this last one of Cavaco’s has been marked by controversy.
Even before he collapsed during a speech on Portugal Day last year, rumours were rife that he was suffering from early onset dementia. Parkinson’s disease, too, was suggested. But this far the rumours have been rejected – the Parkinson’s one certainly, in 2013, by Cavaco’s personal physician.
The gallery of nine
This far the other candidates who have said they are running for the presidency are:
Paulo Freitas do Amaral – a former parish council leader
Castanheira Barros – lawyer and PSD ‘militant’
Henrique Neto – businessman and former PS MP
Paulo de Morais – former deputy mayor of Porto (PSD) and TV commentator
Manuel João Veira – Vocalist with a band, no political affiliations
Manuel Almeida – candidate for Portuguese PTP workers’ party
Orlando Cruz – another PTP militant
Cândido Ferreira – doctor and former PS militant
Graça Castanho – the only female candidate so far, and a lecturer at the University of the Azores
Photo: EDUARDO COSTA/LUSA