Tag Archive for: Democracy

There are numerous terms to describe the wide array of far-right parties and their leaders. They are in one way or the other extreme right, radical right, populist, nativist, ultranationalist, authoritarian, neofascist, illiberal, ‘anti-woke’, anti-Islam, anti-immigration and Euro- and climate-sceptic.

The PopuList – an innovative project involving more than 100 political scientists from over 30 countries classifying Europe’s political parties and their ideologies – shows the steady increase of populist far-right parties in Europe from 1989 until 2022.

Chega (which means Enough) – at present the third-biggest force in Portuguese politics and led by André Ventura – is far-right and populist, with a strong focus on immigration and Islam.

Just like the PVV (Freedom Party) of Geert Wilders in the Netherlands, Marine Le Pen’s National Rally (RN) in France and Victor Orban’s Fidesz in Hungary, who all believe that states should be inhabited exclusively by members of their own ‘native group.’

The picture is familiar. Mainstream parties are struggling with upcoming nativist movements that successfully exploit discontent with stagnating living standards. In Portugal, the sense of economic resentment has been deepened by an acute housing crisis, in part triggered by an influx of expats, who are lured through attractive tax concessions. Multiple corruption scandals have also played in Ventura’s hands.

Although the majority (87%) of the Portuguese want a democracy, nearly half (47%) are willing to support a government of a strong leader who does not have to worry about elections, according to ‘50 years of Democracy in Portugal’, a study recently carried out by the Institute of Social and Political Sciences (ISCSP) of the University of Lisbon.

’We can conclude that today the preference for democracy coexists with preferences for autocratic forms of government’, declared Conceição Pequito, one of the coordinators of the study. A more autocratic form of government ‘presupposes a weakening of the legislative and judicial power and poses a threat to the protection of political rights and civil liberties in a democratic liberal state.’

Of the respondents who prefer a Government with a strong leader, one-third are positioned on the extreme right and over 50% are neither interested in politics nor sympathize with a particular party.
Nowadays, the online presence of certain leaders is such that – in the eyes of voters – ‘they tend to be considered more important than parties.’

A situation that not only takes place in Portugal, and is exacerbated in the political communication made on social media.

Have a great weekend          Bom fim de semana                (Pic Sapo)

Health, Housing, and Education top the list

Portugal is a dissatisfied country according to a recent opinion poll undertaken by the University Institute of Lisbon (ISCTE) for the newspaper Expresso. Housing, Education, Health, and Justice top the list of citizens’ complaints.

Instead of spending time on bilateral agreements forged overseas, the government of António Costa better figure out a solution for all ‘who suffer months or even years on waiting lists for a consultation at the National Health Service, and for the younger generations who have had their learning hijacked by the pandemic, lack of teachers and continuous strikes.’

Moreover, attention is needed to the ‘structural lack of homes, the incompetent Justice system, and the urgent necessity to draw up a national plan in ending the waste of water from dams and rivers’ in view of the increasing climate crisis.

Expresso’s interpretation of the poll stresses that – although in the past it has always been for granted that the State guarantees a certain quality of life, even to those who are struggling financially – in the poll even ‘quality of life’ is poorly rated with over 80% of the respondents showing utter dissatisfaction with life in general and nearly 90% not being satisfied with the availability of housing.

The combatting of corruption saw an 80% level of dissatisfaction.
In the opinion of the Eurobarometer over 90% of the Portuguese believe corruption is common in the country. Two-thirds consider that the level of corruption has increased compared to 2022.

Different regions showed different answers. For example, with regard to National Health, over 60% of citizens in the north were little or not satisfied whereas this number rises to more than 90% in the south (Algarve/Alentejo). Education too is perceived differently. In the north only 35% consider themselves to be satisfied with the quality of education offered by the State. In the Algarve/Alentejo region, the number falls to a mere 20%.

Regarding confidence in the Institutions, those questioned have the most confidence in the police (80%), Armed Forces (75%), their Parish council, and President Marcelo da Sousa (70%). The least confidence is demonstrated against political parties (80% do not trust them), the government (65% without confidence), 60% distrust parliament, 55% the media, and 50% the Catholic Church.

Citizens want more participation in political decisions. Over 80% want more referenda on ‘important matters’ and a sizable majority (75%) want changes in the electoral system so that people can vote more for individuals and less for parties.

Enjoy the week            Approveite a semana               (pic Público/Sapo)

Many people will be familiar with the Carnation Revolution in Portugal that on April 25, 1974, overthrew the authoritarian Estado Novo (New State) regime, established by fascist leader António de Oliveira Salazar.
Last month its 49th anniversary – a national holiday coined as Dia de Liberdade (Freedom Day) – was celebrated all over the country.

But how became the carnation the symbol of the military coup organized by military officers of the Armed Forces Movement (Movimento das Forças Armadas, MFA), that opposed the brutal regime and the ongoing war in Portugal’s African colonies (i.e. Angola, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique and Saõ Tomé and Principe)?

An explanation is, that almost no shots were fired during the peaceful takeover of the military and that when the population took to the streets to celebrate the end of the dictatorship and the colonial wars in Africa, carnations were put into the silent muzzles of the rifles of the armed forces.

However, an alternative interpretation is related to a special woman named Celeste de Caeiros. On April 25, 1974, she was 40 years old and a waitress at the Franjinhas restaurant, on Braamcamp street, next to the Marquis of Pombal square.

That date happened to be the restaurant’s 1st anniversary and red carnations were purchased to hand out to the customers. When Celeste arrived, she was told to go home because a revolution was underway and the restaurant closed. She ended up taking the flowers home when she ran straight into Portuguese soldiers and tanks making their way to the government buildings.

One of the soldiers asked her for the cigarette but as Celeste didn’t smoke, she offered him a red carnation instead which he put into the barrel of his shotgun. In no time his fellow soldiers started doing the same. Photographs capturing the occasion and images of soldiers with carnations in their guns became the symbol of Portugal’s revolution.

Although the Carnation Revolution was peaceful and within hours brought an end to the oppressive regime  – at the same time opening the door for the independence of the African colonies – the transition to a stable democratic government was delayed until 1986, when Portugal entered the European Union.

In honour of the revolution, Lisbon’s ionic suspension bridge (a lookalike of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge) formerly known as the Ponto Salazar ( Salazar Bridge), was renamed Ponte 25 de Abril (April 25 Bridge).

Enjoy the week            Aproveite a semana                (pic Público/Ptnews)


‘Democracy has no owner’ (Carlos Moedas, new mayor of Lisbon)

The ruling center-left Socialist Party (PS) of prime minister António Costa won the local elections with 34% of the votes. Although less convincing than 4 years ago, when the SP was able to take the lead in 160 of the 308 municipalities. This time the party lost 11 councils.

The center-right Social Democratic Party (PSD) gained ground with 24% of the votes. After its worse result ever in 2017 – winning only 98 councils – it recovered 16 municipalities, giving the party the chance to nominate the mayor.

The completely unexpected loss of the Socialists in Lisbon against Novos Tempos (‘New Times’) – a coalition of right-wing parties, including the PSD – meant a sensitive blow to the PS, who had been in power there for 14 consecutive years.

The newly elected mayor in the capital – Carlos Moedas – however, will face a red wall of councillors. The rightist PSD coalition has seven councillors, exactly the same amount as the leftist PS. But there are three more councillors who are likely to team up with the PS. Two communists and one from the Left Bloc, a party with Marxist roots and 19 deputies in Parliament but no mayors at the local level.

The Centre Democratic and Social Popular Party (CDS-PP) – a conservative Christian anti-abortion and anti-euthanasia party – won, in alliance with the PSD, in only 5 councils. One less than four years ago.

The biggest loser was the one-hundred-year-old Communist Party (PCP) – one of the strongest communist parties in Western Europe – who got just over 8% of the votes, losing 5 of their 19 councils. Their worst result since 1976, when Portugal introduced democracy after the Carnation Revolution.

The far-right, xenophobic and nationalist party Chega (‘Enough’) – with one seat in Parliament and taking part in the local elections for the first time – achieved modest success with 4% of the votes, not enough though to conquer a council.

Only 28 councils (9%) were won by a woman, 4 less than in 2017. The Socialists elected most women for mayor – 18 out of 28 – followed by the Social Democrats with 7 women and the Communists with 3 women in the leadership.

The turnout was traditionally poor.
Of the nine million voters, who were able to take part in this election, just over 50% showed up.

Enjoy your week                   Approveite sua semana      (pic Sapo/Ptres)