Secretary of State for Civil Protection Patrícia Gaspar
Secretary of State for Civil Protection Patrícia Gaspar - Image: Lusa

Secretary of State’s boyfriend promoted in Barreiro

Another case of PS Socialist cronyism?

Just as one PS Socialist ‘scandal’ appeared to have been sorted, another seems to have bobbed to the surface: the ‘boyfriend’ of Secretary of State Patrícia Gaspar has been offered a plum promotion in Barreiro – on a higher salary than the job paid previously – and by a mayor for whom Gaspar was a representative at last year’s municipal elections.

The official response is that boyfriend Rui Laranjeira “had all the qualifications” for his new posting as municipal coordinator of Barreiro council’s Civil Protection service.

He will be taking up his post on Monday (January 16) with a salary, at just over €3,000 per month, around €1,000 more than used to be paid to his predecessor, writes Correio da Manha. (This aspect seems a tad sensationalist. It seems the predecessor, Hugo António, started his job in 2019 on around €2,000 per month, but saw this amount increased by the same amount now being offered to Rui Laranjeira, five months before he resigned… no details given by the paper as to why).

It could be that this is a perfectly reasonable career move on the part of Ms Gaspar’s boyfriend. But in view of all the ‘cases and little cases’ (the perceived incompatibilities and cronyism at play within the PS Socialist executive), it was given wide coverage on last night’s evening news, and has a full-page spread in tabloid Correio da Manhã this morning.

The minister of Internal Administration has “guaranteed” that “there was no involvement of the Secretary of State for Civil Protection” in the nomination of her boyfriend for the top job in Civil Protection in Barreiro.

Rui Laranjeira meantime has said that he accepted the job following “a direct contact with the mayor (the man his girlfriend had represented in last year’s municipal elections) and the necessary analysis of its content and the challenges the mission represents”.

He told reporters there are “no ethical or institutional questions” in this situation. Absolutely nothing to see here, in other words.

Leader writer João Pereira Coutinho is not so sure. He likens the unravelling ongoing within the PS executive to an old black-and-white silent comedy where “just when everything seems resolved, water starts coming through a hole unexpectedly”.

His latest editorial in “Naçao Valente (Valiant Nation)” in Correio da Manhã recalls that yes, “the Secretary of State for Tourism has suddenly discovered her principles (…) In São Bento, I imagine the prime minister loosening the knot of his tie and asking his shirt buttons: ‘Is everything sorted now?’ One of the buttons bursts with the resignation of his advisor (because of judicial condemnation) and the boyfriend of the Secretary of State for Civil Protection, nominated for a job in Civil Protection”.