Portuguese Crisis: Prez backs continuation of government
Caracas, Venezuela, July 21, 2013. During an official televised intervention tonight from Lisbon, the Portuguese President Aníbal Cavaco Silva (PSD) announced his decision to have the current governing coalition (PSD/CDS-PP) continue in office until the end of its term. Once again, Cavaco Silva rejected calls for early parliamentary elections. He asked Pedro Passos Coelho‘s administration to govern for the completion of the Troika austerity plan and negotiate the re-entry of Portugal into the international financial markets.
Cavaco Silva also commented on the failed negotiations for a “National Salvation” plan that he proposed just a week ago. Without blaming any of the three negotiating parties (PSD/CDS-PP and the Socialist Party), Cavaco Silva urged them for a consensus for the betterment of Portugal. Finally, he expressed his willingness to call for a confidence motion in favour of the governing coalition in Parliament. Considering PSD/CDS-PP jointly have the majority of seats at Parliament, it is unlikely it would be defeted. After having lost five no-confidence motions, the opposition has run out of chances to undermine the govening alliance in Parliament. However, PSD/CDS-PP popularity has been in the low. Local elections (Autarquicas)- due on September 29th- will certainly become the real test for the trust in the governing coalition and the popularity of the opposition.
The governing coalition (PSD/CDS-PP) greeted the presidential backing with enthusiasm and promised to shift policies towards economic growth and employment. Even though it is unclear whether the political crisis would come to an end now, it is expected that current Foreign Minister, Pablo Portas (CDS-PP) would take his post as Deputy Prime Minister. The resignation of Portas and Finance Minister Vítor Gaspar, initiated the current political crisis over two weeks ago. Some analyst have expressed that President Cavaco Silva will start confronting calls for his resignation to the post.
Speaking of behalf of the main opposition Socialist party (PS) and in reaction to the presidential decision, Alberto Martins disagreed with the presidential decision to back the current administration of PSD and CDS-PP. He argued that Portugal needed to prioritize economic growth and employment now instead of austerity alone which the current administration favors. He also stated that early elections would give the Portuguese people the opportunity to select a new and fresh government. Finally, Martins said that the Socialist Party respected the presidential decision but would continue to push for its own solution to the current crisis.
In reaction to the announcement, ex Prime Minster José Sócrates (PS) rejected the proposed "best solution" of President Cavaco Silva. Sócrates also claimed the President did not calculate the political costs of his recently failed National Salvation plan. The terms he designed were not realistic nor adequate for the current social and political situation in Portugal, he said. For Sócrates, the governing coalition is now weaker that when it entered negotiations with his party a week ago.
The leader of the Left Bloc party, Joao Semedo, contended the presidential solution and called it the worst possible solution to the current crisis. Semedo stated that President Cavaco Silva just acted to protect the parties that backed him for the post. And the Portuguese Communist Party (PCP) stated that no cabinet reform would give legitimacy to the governing coalition. PCP leader, Jerónimode Sousa called for early elections. President Cavaco Silva (PSD) has changed his position from a defendender of the current government (PSD/CDS-PP) to its promoter, he said.
Some business associations backed the presidential solution to the crisis but others disagreed. The Portuguese Commerce and Services Association (CPP) expressed doubts over the ability of the current governing coalition to shift policies. It stated that current economic policies were in part to blame for the crisis. However, it welcomed the presidential call for the cooperation of major parties towards shared social goals. The representative of one Portuguese Trade Union - the General Confedereation of the Portuguese Workers (CGTP-IN) Arménio Carlos stated that Cavaco´s decision meant Portugal remained a hostage of Troika (IMF, European Commission and European Central Bank). Carlos also said the president congratulated those he should have scorned.