By: Chris Graeme
TAKING PERSONAL responsibility was the only way the Portuguese could move forward according to CDS-PP presidential candidate Dr Paulo Portas.
Dr Portas was addressing members of the American Club in Lisbon on April 3 when he reconfirmed his intention to stand as leader of the conservative right-wing CDS-PP coalition party.
“In a global economy, in an open society and in an era of rapid media and technological information, the prevalence of individual responsibility is decisive,” he said.
Individual responsibility and taking advantage of the opportunities that the education system offers was paramount. For Dr Portas, it was “who can learn, who can be innovative and who can take risks” that mattered. He understood that any party that wished to get elected needed to judge and understand the mood of the people today and stressed it was important to be clear and decisive in electoral policy on those areas where there was most uncertainty on the part of its citizens, namely:
The Health Service (Serviço Nacional de Saúde), which needed to be efficient and well run.
The Public Pension System, which the majority of the Portuguese wanted to be solvent with a government capable of reacting and planning for future events and responding accordingly in order to fulfil its social contractual obligations.
Economics: economic growth, job creation and Portuguese family purchasing power had to be protected while tax burdens could not be excessive.
It was important to “listen, read and see” what Portuguese society is today – an essentially urban society with insecure conditions of life, far from what was expected and desired.
“The party that doesn’t understand this urban society doesn’t understand Portugal in the 21st century,” he warned.
Dr Portas believes that the key lies in the dual pillars of “individual and social responsibility and authority”. Authority was not in the sense of police, laws and public order, but in a deeper moral and values sense whereby references were created in which the country could believe in.
“It is worrying that the authority of teachers in schools has been undermined by a false sense of egalitarianism,” he said. “And it is disappointing to see at a judicial level that the authority of magistrates is being prejudiced by a culture of show trials.”
It was important for a government to develop a sane and prudent public administration system for the competitiveness of the country and its image both at home and abroad.
Individual and social responsibility at personal, family, association, company and institutional levels could not be substituted. “Portugal will only develop effectively if it acquires, cultivates and perseveres in all dominions with a culture of responsibility,” he added.
Dr Paulo Portas was born in Lisbon in 1962 and studied law at the Catholic University. He has been a member of the European Parliament since 1999, a member of the Press Authority (Autoridade para Comunicação Social), a Deputy in the Portuguese Parliament, President of the CDS-PP Group, President of the CDS-PP Party from 1997-2005. He was founder of the Independent newspaper from 1988-1995, Minister of Defence between March 2002 and July 2004, and was decorated by the former US Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld for services “motivated by patriotism, good citizenship and sense of public responsibility”. Dr Portas actively recognises the importance of the trans-Atlantic relationship and the importance of the privileged relationship shared between Portugal and the US. He announced his intention to stand for the leadership of the CDS-PP party against José Ribeiro e Castro in the April 21 party elections.
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