The new Portuguese political course begins by imitating the past. The teachers continue to be on the warpath against the Government and threaten to repeat the instability that the students suffered the previous year due to the succession of strikes. This Monday, with the school year having just started, the strikes called by Stop, a minority union that has revolutionized educational mobilizations with its radical confrontation, have begun. The situation in public health is still far from being fixed despite the creation of an independent body to manage it. And Chega, the far-right party led by André Ventura and which is the third parliamentary force, presents this Tuesday a motion of censure against the socialist government of António Costa, which is the second it has promoted in 14 months. “Don’t ask us to come calmly. Chega comes with everything to put an end to the PS Government in Portugal,” Ventura bellowed when announcing her a week ago.
However, the absolute socialist majority in the Assembly of the Republic does not grant any option to this motion, which will also receive the foreseeable rejection of the remaining left-wing parties (Portuguese Communist Party, Bloco de Esquerda, Livre and Pessoas-Animais-Natureza). . This time, however, the far-right has found a new parliamentary ally: Liberal Initiative, the fourth party in the Chamber and which abstained in 2022, has announced that it will support the motion despite considering it “a distraction maneuver.”
Ventura, on the other hand, has failed to attract the main opposition group, the center-right Social Democratic Party (PSD), which will abstain. Its leader, Luís Montenegro, has dismissed the motion as “a little thing.” The debate is being held in the middle of the electoral campaign for the Madeira regional elections, where the center-right is the favorite to win the elections to be held next Sunday the 24th and where the far-right aspires to be necessary to govern.
Chega alludes, among other reasons, to the public health and housing crises to justify his disapproval of the Government, which has so far failed to address the serious problems in these areas or in education. The difficulties in accessing housing worsen every year with price increases that are impossible for the Portuguese to assume given their low salaries. The large legal package More Housing, prepared by the Government and approved by the Assembly of the Republic at the end of July, has been vetoed by the President of the Republic, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, who did not consider it credible to solve the real estate hole. “It is not easy to see where the promised supply of housing will come from efficiently and quickly,” he noted at the end of August in the text where he explained his refusal to promulgate the norm in the Diario de la República.
The blocked law contemplates several radical measures to try to intervene in the real estate market. The opening of new tourist apartments is prohibited in Lisbon, Porto and a good part of the country’s coast, in addition to imposing an “extraordinary contribution” on the owners of tourist apartments and opening the door to the suspension of the activity license in buildings where there is a majority of owners against. Measures that seek to encourage the return of tourist accommodation to the traditional rental market. In addition, access to golden visas through the purchase of houses was eliminated. More than 10,000 foreigners have received a gold certificate in Portugal between October 2012 and February 2023 for their real estate investments, which some consider a stimulus to rising prices.
It is expected that this law will be voted again and approved by Parliament to be sent again to the President of the Republic, who would be obliged to promulgate it if the deputies confirm it in the same terms as the vetoed one. It is one more of the recent clashes between the head of state and the prime minister, António Costa, who are now very far from the harmony they showed during the first term they shared.
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SubscribeMarcelo Rebelo de Sousa greets a Portuguese emigrant in Toronto with the Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, on September 15. CARLOS OSORIO (REUTERS)
After a five-day official visit to Canada, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa tries to stop the controversy sparked by his comment about a young woman’s cleavage. On a street in Montreal, after being greeted by a Portuguese emigrant and her daughter, the President of the Republic said goodbye with these words in reference to the young woman’s clothing: “The daughter is prettier than the mother. She’s still going to catch the flu. Has she seen the neckline well?
Criticism has come from representatives of different parties. “You don’t make a joke about cleavage. Whoever has not perceived this and is President of the Republic has to learn and apologize. Sexism destroys us. It’s not funny,” said socialist deputy Isabel Moreira. Rebelo de Sousa has denied that it was a sexist comment and maintains that it was solely motivated by the cold.
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