In what Público has highlighted as a largely predictable speech, President of the Republic Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa has called for “more growth and juster justice”.
“With more salt, or more sugar, the New Year messages by heads of state in (Portugal’s) democracy have all shared three basic principles: encouragement for economic growth, accompanied by greater social cohesion and an appeal for national consensus”, writes the country’s ‘serious’ daily paper – adding that “preoccupation with economic growth and the balance of public finances have been ever present, even in the time when the cows were fatter” (reference to the heady days before the last financial crises).
Marcelo’s twist on the message came in his interpretation of 2016 (a year for “short-stop management and preoccupation with financial rigour”) while 2017, he said, must be the moment for long-term planning and economic growth.
Describing the growth of Portugal’s economy as “slow and insufficient”, he warned that public debt remains “very high”.
Portugal’s quality of justice, too, is far too slow (“and therefore hardly just”) even though it is beginning to “guarantee political transparency”.
The way ahead “is simple” said the man who found time to take a final swim in the sea before the year was out, and was back on the beach on January 1 for his first dip of the New Year:
We “must not lose political stability, peace and social dialogue, financial rigour, compliance with external commitments, greater social justice, open training for the world and proximity between power and the people”.
At the same time, the country needs to “complete the consolidation of its banking system, encourage exports, incentivate investment and grow a great deal more”.
It is a tall order, but in the eyes of Público, just another example of “history repeating itself”.
As for the old year, 2016 was cited for proving that social and political stability was possible, despite all the theatrical rumblings by right-wing Opposition parties in the background.
High points were Brussels’ acceptance of the country’s State Budget, said the president, and agreement on the national minimum wage (which now rises to €557).
Other ‘feathers in Portugal’s cap’ was last summer’s victory in the Euro 2016 football championship, the election of former PS prime minister António Guterres to the position of secretary general of the United Nations, and confirmation that Pope Francis will be visiting Portugal in May of 2017.
Photo: © 2016-2017 Presidência da República Portuguesa