André Ventura is definitely the most outspoken member of the current parliament. This photo comes from the time when he likened the government's policy (loophole) that has been exploited by migrants as having turned Portugal into the largest whorehouse in Europe. His description received strong rebuke from parliamentary speaker Augusto Santos Silva who is forever strongly rebuking Mr Ventura for 'excessive language'. Image: LUSA

State of Nation debate sees ruling Socialists ‘isolated’ but resolute

PM “uses economy” against ‘lacklustre’ opposition

If yesterday’s State of the Nation debate had gone ahead without the spectre of today’s Council of State, it would have been yet another typical parliamentary debate – with the PS absolute majority government insisting Portugal was much better off for its last seven years at the helm, and opposition parties screeching the opposite.

But the fact that President Marcelo has decided to hold one of his irregular councils, with State advisors, is testament to the fact that Portugal’s isn’t much better off at all. 

The country is beset with public sector discontent; hospitals are in dire straits; courts have been on go-slows; schools have just staggered through a year full of strikes and protests – thousands of citizens are struggling to keep a roof over their heads; and so the context in which Marcelo will be meeting to discuss all these things with his various counsellors later this afternoon.

This morning, writing in popular tabloid Correio da Manhã, deputy editorial director Eduardo Dâmaso reflected on yesterday’s predictable debate in parliament saying, the prime minister “António Costa leads a very worn absolute majority but the opposition, particularly the PSD (the largest party in opposition) cannot rid itself of the image of being incapable of producing an alternative”.

Yes, the government has been beset from many sides by ‘cases’, even ‘scandals’ – the most recent of which at the defence ministry will see past and present ministers answering questions in parliament today – but the prime minister still managed to keep these “in second place” yesterday, focusing instead on the government’s ‘economic achievements’, and returning time and again to the fact that it did not come by its absolute majority by accident.

As Eduardo Dâmaso explains, it was not a debate that will stay in anyone’s memory. Now, attentions will be on what comes out of today’s Council of State, and whether the president will be making any announcements afterwards.

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