State of the Nation debate: “once there was a country and then … Covid”

Eyes today are on the State of the Nation debate in parliament which has all parties bristling with questions, demands and (naturally) criticism.

Explains Rádio Renascença “unemployment is skyrocketing, exports are falling, tourism is on its uppers, the health service is expecting a second wave of Covid-19 and there’s 45 billion euros from Brussels to spend in the next seven years.

“Between TAP, BES and the most profound of economic and social crises, the State of the Nation is an authentic kaleidoscope, with an unofficial ‘central bloc’ (of parties) waiting…”

Waiting for what? Well, it seems they are waiting to see how the minority PS government – that still needs to keep its allies close – is proposing to haul Portugal out of its current hole.

The left are adamant that it can’t be with austerity; the centre-right want to be assured that money (wherever it comes from) is well spent.

And up till now, the ‘claws of the Opposition’ haven’t really been ‘released’.

Says RR, throughout the pandemic, PSD (still the main party in Opposition) has been ‘supportive’ of the government – even letting its Supplementary (virus-led) Budget through without challenge.

But now we’re rapidly approaching the end of a disastrous 2020 and a new year where there will be presidential and municipal elections.

It’s time to understand ‘direction’, and that’s what today’s debate (ongoing in parliament as we write this text) is all about.

We know the PS is working on a recovery plan to be presented to Brussels (if only in outline form) by October. But MPs want to know what it will involve. Will TAP be in line for ‘even more funding’ beyond the €1.2 billion promised? How many redundancies will there be? How will the airline look once it has been ‘streamlined’?

And then there are the questions of ‘high profile cases of corruption’ (BES, Marquês and EDP’s CMEC contracts to name only three). When will they ‘get their day in court’?

How is Portugal to prepare for a possible ‘second wave’ of the virus (if indeed there can be no more lockdowns, as PM Costa has already affirmed)?

Says RR: “With the hole in public accounts provoked by the pandemic and the threat of new holes appearing, the billions announced by Brussels don’t allow for any kind of tranquility.

“More than ever, the climate is of uncertainty…”

Updates on the “State of the Nation” debate to come over the weekend.