Portugal Prez proposes a 3 stage plan for “National Salvation”
Caracas, Venezuela. Wednesday, July 10, 2013 will certainly be remembered as an important date in Portugal’s democratic history. President Aníbal Cavaco Silva issued his most awaited communique on the current political crisis. Speaking his mind and playing his strategy during a televised appearance, Cavaco Silva strongly rejected early parliamentary elections this year as called by the opposition parties. In addition, he proposed a 3 stage plan for national salvation to the three main political parties only. His proposals clearly show that Portugal democracy has drifted into a fitful fever.
After consulting all political parties represented in parliament on the current political crisis ignited within the governing right-wing-coalition, President Cavaco Silva had meetings with other major political actors such as business associations, trade unions and the director of the Portuguese Central Bank. He heard all views on the crisis and demands for early parliamentary election.
President Cavaco Silva spoke his mind only after having pondered on the causes of the political crisis, its economic and financial impact and the future. His urgent National Salvation plan to solve the current crisis recommends the following:
- Delay early parliamentary elections until the conclusion of the current financial assistance programme designed by the Troika (IMF, European Commission and European Central Bank), that is, after June 2014.
- Include in government only the political parties that signed the Memorandum of Understanding with Troika: the current governing coalition (PSD and CDS-PP) and the Socialist party.
- Extend duration of National Salvation plan for a medium term, that is, even after early parliamentary elections are held next year.
The presidential proposals were initially accepted by his party and senior member of the governing coalition led by Passos Coelho- the Social Democratic Party (PSD) –and the Democratic and Social Cetre-People´s Party (CDS-PP). Economic actors also backed the plan. It was the Socialist party that refused to go along the plan as set. It agreed to the prospects of political negotiations but refused to exclude the possibility of early elections this year. The Socialist party also objected the exclusion of other political parties from the National Salvation plan. The two major trade unions UGT and CGTP also rejected the plan.
In his communique, President Cavaco Silva oddly stated the current government was fully active and could exercise its functions. This has been interpreted by some analysts as a backing to the appointment of ex Minister for Foreign Affairs (Paulo Portas, leader of the CDS-PP) as Vice or Deputy Prime Minister. However, others believed he had not approved it at all. In addition, the proposed National Salvation plan suggests a need to water down the powerful position in economic matters given to the junior member of the governing coalition. With the conclusion of the National Salvation plan, the CDS-PP would see its apparent promotion in government impaired. This uncertainty has created further confusion over the solution to the political crisis presented by the governing coalition of Prime Minister Passos Coelho.
Even though President Cavaco Silva has already called for the design of a post-troika-austerity policy to boost economic growth and employment, the plan submitted to the Portuguese seems rather confusing. On one hand, it clearly violates the dynamic of democracy by excluding both early elections and minor political parties. On the other hand, it clearly supports the constitution of a government different from the general will expressed in the 2011 parliamentary elections. Finally, concerns over the negative economic and financial effects of early elections cannot override democratic legitimacy in Portugal.