Early elections Portugal rehearses the electoral campaign in the approval of the latest Costa Budgets

Eight years at the top and an abrupt and precipitous fall have culminated this Wednesday with the approval of the latest General Budgets of the Government of António Costa

Early elections Portugal rehearses the electoral campaign in the approval of the latest Costa Budgets

Eight years at the top and an abrupt and precipitous fall have culminated this Wednesday with the approval of the latest General Budgets of the Government of António Costa. The outgoing Prime Minister of Portugal has remained in office until now and with full powers after his announced resignation in order to be able to definitively approve his latest public accounts in a debate that has served all parties to rehearse the next electoral campaign, that of the elections. advance notices on March 10.

Costa came to the debate better than when he resigned. The alleged corruption case for which he left office has been deflated by the judge after the serious initial accusations of the Prosecutor's Office. But Costa has promised not to hold any public office again until the judicial investigation into Operation Influencer is over. This Wednesday in the Assembly of the Republic was, therefore, his last relevant political act in a long time. The candidate of the Socialist Party (PS) will be different and will be decided in primaries.

Tied in the polls, both the PS and the Social Democratic Party (PSD, center-right) used the debate in the Chamber, which approved the Budget with 120 votes in favor, 108 against and two abstentions, to address voters and gain ground facing the next appointment with the polls. The right and the extreme right have an advantage, but the Portuguese conservatives have stated until now that they rule out governing in coalition with the extreme right of Chega, so the next Executive is up in the air.

Costa preferred not to intervene in the debate and left the entire intervention at the lectern to his Minister of Finance, Fernando Medina. Upon his departure, he did make a passionate defense of his mandate before journalists: "In eight years, we have turned the page on austerity," he summarized.

An emotional prime minister concluded that in 2015 he took charge of the country in "a situation of excessive deficit." After this time, he added, Portugal enjoys "solid fiscal stability." "There have been eight years of convergence with the European Union as has not happened since the beginning of the century," he assured. After his last political act before leaving permanently, Costa guaranteed that "the Portuguese will have, in the year 2024, accounts that continue the path of improved income, promote investment and protect their future."

The general accounts of Portugal were approved without problems thanks to the absolute majority of the PS. The PSD, Chega, Liberal Initiative, the Communist Party and the Left Bloc voted against. And the two deputies from Livre (ecologists) and the Animalist Party (PAN) abstained.

In their responses, the center-right and the radical right accused Costa of leaving, increasing the tax pressure on the Portuguese and leaving "weak economic growth." On the opposite side, the spokespeople of the left assured that in this time public services have deteriorated and that the "good economic indicators" have not managed to improve people's lives.

However, the center of the attacks, especially from the right, were "the scandals" that have surrounded Costa's last year in power. "No one fired the prime minister," said a vehement André Ventura, the leader of Chega (extreme right), "he left office forced by a scandal of cronyism and corruption; not even your mother believes in you anymore," he snapped, before that the president of the Assembly, Augusto Santos Silva, called him to order.

The arguments of the economic spokesperson of the PSD were similar: "The Costa Government collapsed from within, involved in poorly explained scandals."

Although the prime minister is no longer being investigated for the serious crimes of which the Prosecutor's Office initially accused him, two of his closest collaborators, including his chief of staff, Vítor Escária, are in question and remain charged. In the search of Escária's office, the police found 75,800 euros in cash distributed in envelopes.

The spokesmen of the right also took the opportunity to attack the socialist leader who is the favorite to win the primaries and be a candidate, Pedro Nuno Santos. According to the PSD and Chega, he is "an impulsive radical" and a Government led by him "would be even more tragic for Portugal."

The next Portuguese elections are planned to be open with a certain advantage in favor of the right, according to polls in recent weeks. The PSD and the PS appear tied, as do the liberals and the left. On that side, the blocs are fighting for victory for a handful of seats.

The tiebreaker in the polls is broken by the extreme right, which appears as the third most voted force with up to 42 deputies (compared to the 77-80 of the PSD and the PS). However, for the moment, the leader of the PSD, Luís Montenegro, maintains that he will not govern with the radical right, contrary to what happened in the Netherlands, where the center-right opened the doors to govern with the extreme right and the ultra Geert Wilders won. the elections.