Prime Minister throws open the doors of official residence

PRIME MINISTER José Sócrates was relaxed and informal on April 25 as he chatted away with Portuguese citizens at his official residence of São Bento.

The Prime Minister said he was “satisfied” with the pace of change in Portugal and his government’s performance so far.

“Of course not everybody shares my opinion but it’s good to hear other points of view,” he told reporters as he strolled around the residence gardens and signed autographs.

José Sócrates happily posed for photographs with elderly pensioners and young children while the GNR band played rousing patriotic tunes in the mansion where António Oliveira Salazar lived for several decades.

The security presence was relaxed but omnipresent to control access of the large queue of people that had formed in Rua da Imprensa as far as Estrela, some carrying carnations, others carrying banners and placards protesting against public administration cuts.

April 25 is the only day in the yearly calendar when the official residence opens its doors to the general public, although the Prime Minister is said to occupy a penthouse suite in the Heron Buildings in Lisbon’s Rua Castilho.

The gardens and front driveway were bustling with clowns and other performing artists from the Chapitô Theatre Arts Company which was especially hired out to jolly along the afternoon.

The Prime Minister was quick to draw attention to his government’s green innovation in the mansion’s back gardens, a small wind turbine generator and some solar panels. “This is an ecological residence now and it’s something that all Portuguese citizens could do,” he said.

“Our democracy is stable and solid” was the only official comment he made to the press asking for reactions over both the President’s and military’s concerns over the state of democracy in Portugal 34 years on from the Carnation Revolution.

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