Lisbon – The President of Portugal, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, decided to dissolve Parliament and call new elections on March 10, 2024. This measure was taken after the vacuum created by the dismissal of António Costa from the post of Prime Minister, who is accused of favoring companies in the exploration of fossil and green hydrogen and in the construction of the data center in Sense port. Signs of corruption were revealed through an operation carried out by the Public Ministry on Tuesday (07/11). Five people were arrested.
In a statement to the nation, Rebelo de Sousa said: “After being called to make a decision on the scenario created by the dismissal of the Prime Minister, I have chosen to dissolve the Council of the Republic and set the date of the elections for March 10, 2024.” . According to him, there is no reason to change the prime minister only, because the country will be bleeding, and he will later have to make the same decision, but in the context of a weak economy and lack of confidence in society. Until the last moment, the Socialist Party, which had a majority in Congress, tried to maintain control of the São Bento Palace, claiming that it had an absolute majority of elected parliamentarians. The last elections in Portugal were held, also in advance, in January 2022.
The president claimed that before he waved the hammer to dissolve Parliament, he listened to all the leaders of the parties that have seats in the Council of the Republic, and the majority was in favor of moving forward the election date. In the Council of State, which met before the address to the nation, there was a link between keeping everything as it was, simply looking for an alternative to Costa, and dissolving the Assembly, a situation that had already happened last year with other heads of state.
The crisis could be worse
During his speech, Rebelo de Sousa gave a series of reasons for his decision. The first, he noted, is the nature of the vote in the last election, which was very personal for the Prime Minister, based on his leadership, resulting in a landslide victory. The second is the weak formation of the government, which, even with a majority in Parliament, would not gain its legitimacy by popular vote if the prime minister were someone else. The third is the risk, which we have already seen in the past, of weak government merely postponing the solution until a worse moment, with a more dangerous situation and unpredictable consequences.
He pointed out, “If this context prevails, the government will be presidential, that is, supported by the President of the Republic, which will weaken his role in a sensitive period in which he must, above all else, have an internal and external reference.” The fourth reason is the indispensable economic and social stability, which is provided by the advance vote on the state budget for 2024, even before the dismissal of the current Prime Minister is formalized, at the beginning of December – the vote on the budget is scheduled. For 29 November.
The Portuguese leader also stressed that the fifth reason for dissolving Parliament and calling for new elections was greater clarity and a more active path “to overcome the unexpected vacuum, which greatly surprised and upset the enthusiastic Portuguese who found themselves in the eighth”. Years of leadership (from Costa).” “In this way, we return the word to the people, without intimidation or fear. “This is the power of democracy, not being afraid of the people.”
For Rebelo de Sousa, now is the time to look ahead, examine progress and choose the representatives of the people and the government that will result from the elections. He stressed “a government that seeks to ensure stability and economic, social and cultural progress in freedom, pluralism and democracy.” He added: “A government with a vision for the future, taking what has been accomplished, finishing what needs to be accomplished, and innovating what still needs to be achieved.”
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