Considered model of institutional stability and normality, by its European neighborsPortugal finds itself facing the likely call for new elections in the middle of a mandate that would still last two years.
The decision to dissolve Parliament is in the hands of President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, who provided a leaves premonitoryafter Costa was consecrated with an absolute majority in the 2022 elections. “If the Prime Minister leaves, Parliament will be dissolved”he warned, last January.
This is because, in your opinion, Costa personalized the electionby running for and being re-elected Prime Minister as leader of the Socialist Party and leader of the Portuguese government since 2015.
O president also has the option of appointing a new socialist prime ministerthe party that holds the majority in Parliament, but this seems to be a solution unlikely given the circumstances of Costa’s departure from government command.
The prime minister is being investigated, along with two ministers from his cabinet, for possible malfeasance and active and passive corruption and influence peddling in the concession for exploration of lithium mines and production of green hydrogen. The Portuguese police carried out 42 searches of offices, companies and homes, including Costa’s. Five people were arrested.
The prime minister thought it best to present his resignation to the president and assure him that he will not run again. Portugal and Malta are the only European countries where socialists hold an absolute majority.
Leaders of the opposition parties, with whom Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa will meet this Wednesday, call for new elections.
Luís Montenegro, leader of the Social Democratic Party, the Socialists’ main rival in Parliament, noted that this is the only alternative, arguing that the PS’s legitimacy has collapsed.
Third political force, the far-right Chega party, follows the same line, trying to take advantage and open up more space in the political scene. Its histrionic president, André Ventura, classifies Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa as a “fraud and great betrayal” if he chose to appoint a new prime minister, instead of dissolving Parliament.
O PS has been falling in the polls. It lost around ten points in the most recent polls, but remains in a tight lead against the PSD.
This means that to govern, if he were to win the elections today, the center-right party would have to form a coalition with the radical right Chega. This alternative displeases the moderate sector of the Portuguese right and favored Costa in the last elections.
All scenarios lead the country to turbulent times. The 2024 Budget has not yet been voted on and could weigh on the president’s decision whether or not to postpone the call for elections. The new prime minister will also have to deal with the developments of the Public Ministry’s investigation, which is currently under judicial secrecy.
“It is somehow a moment of uncertainty, a moment of a country in a trance, in terms of postponed resolutions that would be answered during this budgetary year”, summarized the director of the newspaper “Público”, David Pontes.
Prime Minister of Portugal resigns after being the target of police operation