Portugal – Redux: “I’m less heartened by the way in which individuals misinterpret other countries’ politics to prove particular political points.”

Make that individuals and political parties…

Like David, Sinn Féin had another go at framing the narrative over recent events in Portugal.

Unlike David, they didn’t reverse ferret totally change their perspective after reading a random blog post…

The initial charge (24 Oct) from the Sinn Féin president, Gerry Adams, TD, was that “Events in Portugal expose anti-democratic nature of EU

…in Portugal we are witnessing the makings of a genuine coup with the unwillingness of the establishment there to accept the outcome of an election and the support won by parties who oppose EU austerity.

“Effectively those who won the election are being prevented from taking office to appease an EU elite.

“This confirms the worst fears of people here about the direction of the EU and further exposed the anti-democratic nature of present EU project.

The follow-up (30 Oct) came courtesy of the party chairman, Declan Kearney.  [Was it the Dark Side again? – Ed]  Ermm, no.

This time, after misinterpreting events in Greece, Sinn Féin’s Declan Kearney turned his attention to Portugal.

“The anti-democratic character and unswerving allegiance to austerity ascendant with the EU, is now intervening again in the democratic process of Portugal. The political establishment there has rejected the electoral mandate of the Socialist party, Left Bloc and the Community Party to form a left coalition.

“President Silva has said he would not be able to give power to ‘anti-European partisan forces’. That was in response to Angela Merkel’s assertion that an anti-austerity government would be a ‘very negative’ development.

“There is no surprise in any of this. The conservative right are now on an offensive across Europe to entrench inequality as a means of social control.

[The Community Party!? – Ed]  He means the Portuguese Communist Party [PCP] who hold the majority of the 17 seats won by the Unity Democratic Coalition [CDU].

[And the “political establishment”? – Ed]  The democratically elected President. [Republicans, eh? – Ed]  Indeed.  It’s the Communist Party that the President regards as “anti-European political factions”.

It’s not clear whether Sinn Féin are being briefed on this by Daniel Hannan or Owen Jones, but in either case Chris Hanretty’s rebuttal from 25 Oct is still relevant.

In this case, the facts are these:

  1. In the elections of the 4th, no single party secured a majority. The incumbent right-wing Social Democrats (PSD) and their allies the CDS won the most votes and the most seats, but failed to win an overall majority. Their main challengers, the Socialists (PS) improved their vote and seat share, but the big winners were the Left Bloc (BE).
  2. Prior to the elections, the PS had not discussed a pre-electoral alliance with the Left Bloc or the Portuguese Communist Party (PCP). However, once it became clear that these parties had won a majority of the vote (50.75%) and a majority of seats (122 of 230), negotiations began.
  3. The Portuguese constitution gives the President of the Republic the task of “appoint the Prime Minister after consulting the parties with seats in Assembly of the Republic and in the light of the electoral results” (Art. 187).
  4. The current President is Anibal Cavaco Silva, the most successful leader the right-wing PSD has ever had.
  5. On the 22nd, the President gave the leader of the PSD, Pedro Passos Coelho, the task of forming the next government, as some had expected he might.
  6. In the speech explaining this decision, the President explained that in all previous elections, the task of forming the government went to the party with the most seats, even where that party did not have a legislative majority. He gave the example of the 2009 election, where the PS formed a government.
  7. The President went on to say:

However, the appointment of the Prime Minister by the President of the Republic does no finalize the process of forming a Government. The final decision belongs to Parliament or, more precisely, to the Members of Parliament. The rejection of the Government Programme, by an absolute majority of Members of Parliament, implies its resignation”.

8. The President also said:

Outside the European Union Portugal’s future would be catastrophic.

In 40 years of democracy, the Portuguese governments never depended from anti-European political factions, that is, of the political factions which, in the electoral manifestos with which they presented themselves to the Portuguese, defended the repeal of the Lisbon Treaty, of the Budgetary Treaty, of the Banking Union and of the Pact of Stability and Growth, as well as the dismantlement of the Economic and Monetary Union and Portugal’s exit from the Euro, and, still further, the dismemberment of NATO, of which Portugal is a founder member”.

These remarks were directed against the the PCP, which has proposed exit from the Eurozone and NATO.

This all means that the EU has not prevented Leftist parties from forming a government. The EU did nothing. The Portuguese President made a decision. He decided to ask an (1) incumbent PM who is (2) leader of the party with the most seats and who is (3) of the same party as the President, to form a government. If the right is unsuccessful, then the government will be voted down, and the left will have the chance to put together an alternative.

As Chris Hanretty says,

I’m less heartened by the way in which individuals misinterpret other countries’ politics to prove particular political points.

[And political parties! – Ed] Indeed.