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Second MP leaves PSD – citing party’s focus on settling internal scores

Rui Cristina another member of Algarve branch ‘pushed to one side’

A second PSD MP has announced he is leaving the party over the direction it is taking under the leadership of Luís Montenegro.

Rui Cristina has decided to become a ‘non-attached member of parliament’ until the end of this truncated legislature.

In a letter to which Lusa news agency was given access today, the MP writes: “It is clear that the current PSD leadership is more concerned with settling internal accounts, imposing egos that essentially have no serious commitment to the party, interested only in a permanent quarrel for ‘power’“.

Rui Cristina was recently announced as the 5th candidate on the PSD’s list for its Algarve (Faro) district – after having been No. 2 in the elections last year.

Readers may recall that the previous No.1 – president of the Algarve PSD Cristóvão Norte – has also been sidelined in favour of a party member close to the current centre of power, Miguel Pinto Luz, the current deputy-mayor of Cascais. The fact that Pinto Luz lives far from the Algarve while Norte has been living in the region and accompanying local issues for two decades, resulted in a letter from the 16 Algarve PSD council offices to the party leader, requesting that he reconsider. Everything points to this letter having fallen on muffled ears: nothing has changed.

Thus Rui Cristina’s decision announced only days after another long-standing PSD MP – António Maló de Abreu – left the party, ostensibly to become an independent. 

Mr Abreu didn’t initially disclose his reasons for leaving a party he has been a member of for 40 years. But it has since transpired that he took exception to what he calls “an absolute sanitisation of the most competent people who were in Parliament”.

The leadership’s choices for candidates running in the upcoming elections have “humiliated many people who used to be at the top of the lists (…) You cannot just put a list leader in 28th place without asking them…” he pointed out just as it became clear he wasn’t going to be an independent, he would be joining CHEGA.

Thus, the big question is, will Rui Cristina also join CHEGA – the populist party often referred to as “not really a party, more a megaphone for André Ventura” (the party leader)?

“The future requires thought and reflection” is all we have to work with today, albeit some news sources are suggesting it is ‘certain’ that Cristina will stand for CHEGA, probably as No 1 candidate in Évora.

Rui Cristina is 44 years old. He has been the vice-president of PSD Algarve (ie he works alongside Cristóvão Norte, and will almost certainly have been one of the signatories in the letter complaining about Norte’s effective ‘demotion’ as a principal candidate), and a party militant for 20 years.

In the letter he sent to leader of the parliamentary group, Hugo Soares, Cristina explained that “after deep reflection, matured by the pain and suffering of its consequences, I find no alternative but to break with the decisions taken by the party leadership, which violate my principled integrity.”

The text states that the “internal fracture that has plagued the Social Democratic Party in recent times is common knowledge and that today there is an irreconcilable difference in the party’s internal structure, an obstacle to the necessary stability and continuation of its political exercise.

“Irreconcilable differences due to a banal instrumentalisation of the party for the benefit of the interests of small groups that take turns, hindering any horizon of political exercise that is intended to be effective,” Cristina went on.

Says Lusa, Cristina’s letter referred to the position of the 16 Algarve PSD councils which “have demonstrated the necessary unity and defence of the party’s interests, in contrast to the governing bodies that, through authority, have imposed incomprehensible choices in which the interests of groups stand out“.

According to the MP, even the proposals for a government solution are “constantly indexed to internal squabbling, with no discernible substance either for militants or, even more seriously, for the Portuguese”.

With a third hugely respected PSD member finding he was surprisingly ‘nowhere to be seen’ in the list of candidates, there is a definite pattern emerging here, which cannot augur well for a party that – in spite of its main adversary’s largely appalling record – cannot seem to take the advantage.

Later this week, further polls are expected to show citizens’ voting intentions. Leader writer Carlos Rodrigues writes today that, this far, the pre-campaign has “provoked an enormous yawn of indifference”, but now that the elections are only a month and a half away, “it is natural that electors will start to think about this theme more seriously”.

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