The president of Portugal, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousafinally leaned towards the electoral lead in response to the open political crisis that the country is going through with the resignation on Tuesday of the Socialist Party Antonio Costa as Prime Minister, was investigated for alleged irregularities in the granting of operating licenses lithium mines and produce green hydrogen. The president has set the calling of elections for the next March 10.
“I opt for the dissolution of the Assembly of the Republic and the calling of elections on March 10, 2024,” Rebelo de Sousa said this Thursday in a statement to the country following a four-hour meeting of the Board of state. . The day before, he had consulted all political parties with parliamentary representation.
The socialists, who absolute majority, they proposed to the president to continue governing with a new prime minister and Costa even proposed up to four names, but the majority of opposition parties requested the dissolution of Parliament and the calling of early elections, a scenario which, a priori, was the best. preference of the Portuguese head of state. As he pointed out on Thursday, the socialist victory of 2022 was personalized in the figure of Costa and accepting this party’s proposal would have been a “weaker” alternative.
Socialist leader resigned after investigation against him became public over allegations prevarication, active and passive corruption and influence peddling in the lithium and hydrogen activities, even if he assured that he had not committed any illegal act.
The choice of the date of the elections is not trivial, because it will allow the Government to approve the budget for 2024, the final vote of which is scheduled for November 29. The Portuguese Constitution and electoral law provide that early elections must take place between 55 and 60 days after the date of dissolution of Parliament is made official.
“The approval of the budget will allow us to meet the expectations of many Portuguese and to control the application of the Recovery and resilience plan“, which does not and cannot stop at the transformation of the Government into a management government or at the dissolution of the Assembly”, he stressed. According to Rebelo de Sousa, having the accounts for the next financial year is a “guarantee of the essential economic and social stability“.
Likewise, with this deadline, the president gives time to the Socialist Party For reorganize internally, after the earthquake which caused the resignation of the post of Prime Minister of its leader, who had led the government since 2015 and was facing his third term, the first with an absolute majority. When he announced his resignation, Costa said he would remain in office until he was replaced as head of the executive branch.
During his speech, Rebelo de Sousa thanked Costa for his work at the head of the government, with complicated moments like the pandemic or the wars in Ukraine and the most recent in Gaza, and wished for clarification of the judicial file that ‘led to resign.
Minimum wage increase
While Rebelo was contemplating his decision, the Government approved by decree-law an increase in the minimum wage up to 820 euros (60 euros more than today) and a updating of civil servant salaries (52 euros for gross salaries up to 1,807 euros per month and 3% for higher salaries) from January 2024. The measures were already known and had been agreed with employers and unions.