Foreign minister denies Portugal is China’s ‘special friend in the EU’

Speaker excludes CHEGA MPs from parliamentary delegation trips abroad

Decision follows “shameful” protest against speech by Brazilian president

Parliamentary speaker Augusto Santos Silva has excluded right-wing populist party, CHEGA, from the delegations of visits to foreign parliaments, following the incident at the special session for Brazilian president, Lula da Silva, on Liberty Day.

According to a note from Mr Santos Silva’s office he has informed the leaders’ conference that “whenever his travels on official visits to other parliaments include contacts with heads of state, heads of government or ministers of foreign affairs” he will no longer be accompanied by CHEGA MPs, writes Lusa.

In the note, Santos Silva considers that, by their actions, CHEGA representatives show they do not guarantee, “100%, that they respect these high entities and, in general, the obligations of respect and courtesy that have long characterised and distinguished Portugal’s external policy action.

The decision “applies immediately”, says the note.

Speaking to reporters, CHEGA leader André Ventura considers the move constitutes “the zero degree of democracy“, calling it “vindictive, childish and dictatorial“.

“CHEGA demonstrated (last Tuesday), as the whole country saw, it was a demonstration within our mandate as MPs and as representatives of the Portuguese people. The application of sanctions only discredits parliament and accentuates an already latent climate of conflict,” he said.

Ventura added that there is “no regulatory or regimental norm that allows the application of sanctions” – considering Santos Silva’s decision “pure arbitrariness and discretionary“.

At the leaders’ conference yesterday, it was also decided that, on May 10, an ‘analysis and reflection’ will be made on the incident.

Socialist MP Pedro Delgado Alves tells Lusa that CHEGA’s actions require “the need to reflect on how to prevent, avoid and give a very clear signal that the Portuguese democratic institution cannot fail to affirm its principles”.

He described an accentuation of “hostility and parliamentary civility” in recent weeks, specifying that there will be a discussion based on the rules of procedure, the statute of MPs and the code of conduct at the May 10 leaders conference.

He also said he will be looking at comparative law from other countries to understand how they deal with this type of incident.

“The rules of procedure are being reviewed, we can learn from experiences in other countries. We are unfortunately not the first democracy to have to contend with populism (…) but the resilience of the institutions means we are vigilant and will act,” he told Lusa.

At Tuesday’s session, at the beginning of Lula da Silva’s speech, members of CHEGA stood up and held up three types of placards reading “No more corruption“, “A thief’s place is in prison” and others in the colours of Ukrainian flags.

The president of Brazil continued his speech for a few more minutes, but as soon as there was a pause, the benches on the left and the PSD applauded enthusiastically, while the CHEGA MPs banged the woodwork in front of them, “by way of catcalls”, according to Lusa.

“A visibily irritated” speaker admonished the demonstration, saying it brought shame on the name of Portugal: “MPs who want to remain in the room have to behave with courtesy, civility and the politeness required of any representative of the Portuguese people. No more insults, no more degrading institutions, no more putting shame on the name of Portugal,” he railed.

President Lula described the moment afterwards as “ridiculous”.

Source material: LUSA