Portugal. Socialist government hits the wall of social anger

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They were, last Thursday, nurses demonstrating outside Parliament. At the same time, doctors who resigned en bloc to denounce the deplorable situation in hospitals, who were heard by the deputies, inside the enclosure. They will be the same on strike in the course of next month. It will also be, from Monday, teachers and the rest of the public service who will multiply social movements, before a national demonstration, at the call of the main trade union confederation of the country, the CGTP-IN, on November 20. The fire of social anger is smoldering in Lisbon, Porto and all over Portugal, and it has just produced its first short circuit …

“Sluggish investments and deterioration of the health system”

On the night of Wednesday to Thursday, the draft budget for 2022, presented by the government of socialist Antonio Costa, was rejected because, in particular, of votes against Communist deputies (PCP) and the Left Bloc. Last year, during the same fiscal year, the Prime Minister narrowly escaped thanks to the abstention of elected Communists. This time, it is impossible to break the deadlock: the PCP and the Left Bloc accuse the Socialists, which they have supported from the outside so far, of not doing enough to increase the power of purchase as the minimum wage, but also on pensions and the financing of public services.

“It was up to the government, even in recent days, to give the answer that was necessary for the discussion to continue,” said João Oliveira, the parliamentary leader of the PCP. But the answer did not come. “For her colleague Catarina Martins, spokesperson for the Left Bloc, the budget was not up to par because it only provided for” anemic investments “and did not in any way stop the” deterioration of the public health system “.

In reality, this political crisis is a continuation of the last legislative elections: in October 2019, the Socialists had increased their number of seats, but missing the absolute majority in Parliament to nearly 8 seats, and the Left Bloc like the PCP had lost feathers. This led Antonio Costa to largely neglect his indispensable supporters of the left, who did not participate in the government, but had agreed to help turn the page on austerity. But today, on the left, the results are more bitter than ever.

Early parliamentary elections could be held in the spring

The rejection of the budget should now lead to the downfall of the government. Before dissolving Parliament, as he promised to do in this circumstance, the Conservative President, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, is required to conduct several consultations provided for by the Constitution. Thus, he will receive the various political parties on Saturday before a “special meeting” of the Council of State scheduled for next Wednesday. Early parliamentary elections could then be held next spring. But, apart from the extreme right, which, for a long time contained by the memory of the dictatorship, could confirm a spectacular return initiated during the last presidential election, no force in presence should do very well: neither the socialists, who have failed to impose their hegemony on the left, nor the right-wing conservative parties, which are tearing themselves apart internally …

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