5th of October and the Hunger for Power in Portugal
On the 5th of October 2012 the President of Portugal Cavaco Silva hoisted the Portuguese flag upside down.

Recently the Portuguese Republic celebrated its 104th anniversary. The 5th of October was always an holiday in Portugal until the arrival of the Troika, which decided to cut some holidays, so we lost four of them - two civil and two religious.

The 5th of October 2012 will always remain in our memory because the President of Portugal Cavaco Silva hoisted the Portuguese flag upside down. Portuguese people started to criticize that moment and make some comparisons with the state of Portugal, as the country was going through a big crisis. But the 5th of October, despite the celebrations about the Republic, is also the anniversary of the Treaty of Zamora. However, we have not been celebrating this treaty since 1910. The Republic hid, even overshadowed, this important treaty.

In 1143, King Alfonso VII of León and Castille and King Afonso Henriques of Portugal met at the Cathedral of Zamora to sign an important treaty that recognized the independence of the Kingdom of Portugal. This makes Portugal one of the oldest States in the world, 871 years. Only the Portuguese Monarchist Party that does not have any deputy in the Portuguese Parliament celebrates 5th of October as the day of the birth of Portugal.

Almost every country celebrates is Independence Day, but in Portugal it seems that it is not good to talk about Kings and Kingdoms in the Republic Day, even if without this treaty Portugal would have never become a State. Despite the fact that Portugal has a Monarchist Party, the Monarchist movement does not have too much power in Portugal. Our last king died in exile, in London, without any decent burial. The pretender to the former Portuguese throne (Duarte Pio, Duke of Bragança) is not strong enough to create a movement around him, so Portugal is expected to live as a Republic for the next years.

Just one curiosity about our last King Manuel II, that had his father and older brother killed in a Republican attack, he married in exile and asked for a piece of Portuguese soil, because he wanted to be married on Portuguese ground, this shows that even rejected by his own people he never stopped loving Portugal.  This passion is more complicated to find in politicians, because normally what makes politicians move are their political ideologies and their hunger for power, while Kings and Queens have impartiality, they represent the people, not one political party. In the last months we watched in Portugal this hunger for power.  For the first time in the Portuguese democracy, we had primary elections for the Socialist Party (Partido Socialista). This political party was in power when the big crisis started, José Sócrates, the former Prime-minister from 2005 until 2011, is still considered to be responsible for the crisis. Sócrates lost the elections to the current Prime-minister Pedro Passos Coelho, from the Social Democratic Party (Partido Social Democrata).

After José Sócrates, António José Seguro won the elections in the Socialist Party, but Seguro was not so strong to be the president of the party. Apparently, the Socialist Party needed someone weak to serve as a puppet until the bad image left from Sócrates to be clean.

António Costa, President of the Municipality of Lisbon since 2007, was always surrounding the presidency of the Socialist Party. For a few times Costa hinted that he wanted to be president, this weakened Seguro even more. António Costa is a friend of Sócrates’ and for this reasons some people expect that he will do the same things like Sócrates: bring Portugal to another crisis by spending too much money. Costa waited for the right time, the Elections for the European Parliament, to ask for elections in his party, but Seguro, in the attempt to gain more time to find some more support, set the elections to 28th of September. It was for the first time in Portugal that primary elections were open not only to affiliates but also for supporters of the party.

The only candidates were António Costa and António Seguro, the Portuguese newspapers called this election as “A Batalha dos Antónios” (The Battle of Antónios), and as expected, the 174 770 voters gave the Presidency to the Costa. Thus, he finally achieved his so-wanted place that gives him direct way to the position of Prime-minister. On the same day, Seguro resigned from President of Socialist Party and a few days he resigned from his place in the Portuguese Parliament.

António Costa will have now a few months to prepare his candidacy for Prime-minister in the next year elections, but is certain that he will win the elections. The governments in Portugal always alternate between Socialist Party and Social Democratic Party. And now with Portuguese people being under the austerity imposed by Troika, but implemented by the current Social Democratic government, people will vote for the Socialist Party even if the candidate were weak as Seguro.

The Portuguese Elections for the European Parliament brought some unexpected situations, we had a new political party - Livre - that did not elect any MEP but if the election was to the Portuguese Parliament this political party would have elected some deputies. This party held its first congress last 5th of October. Ever since its creation, the leader of the political party said that Livre would contribute to a large consensus between the left parties in Portugal, as the Portuguese left wing parties are always in discordance. To achieve this, Rui Tavares, a former MEP and current leader of Livre, invited all the left wing parties to this congress, however, few accepted his invitation, including António Costa from the Socialist Party.

But probably the most unexpected in the Portuguese Elections for the European Parliament was the election of two MEPs from a small party that was almost unknown to Portuguese people, the Earth Party (Partido da Terra). This is due to the fact that Marinho Pinto was running for this party; he is a former Bâtonnier of Portuguese Bar Association and is well known by the Portuguese people. 

He is a strong critic of the current political parties, and after he arrived in the European Parliament, he said that he would run for a seat in the Portuguese Parliament. To achieve this he formalized the creation, last 5th of October, of a new political party: Democratic Republican Party (Partido Democrático Republicano). He got support from some politicians from other important political parties as the Socialist Party and the Social Democratic Party.

With these two new political parties that hunger for power, the Portuguese Parliament is expected to be the most colourful after the next legislative elections in 2015, since the “Revolução dos Cravos”, that we are celebrating the 40th Anniversary. 

Finally, Portuguese people that are always complaining about the governments saying that “they are always the same”, are changing theirs votes and show some support to small parties, the problem is that this diversity in the Parliament is very likely to provoke more disagreements between political parties. It is almost certaint that the Socialist Party will win the next elections, but if they cannot win the majority of the seats, it could be very hard to govern Portugal. António Costa has already understood that in order to be Prime-minister, he will need support from another political party, which is why he accepted the invitation from Livre. 

If the Portuguese Parliament will not achieve a big consensus, this will continue to affect the future of Portugal that has been navigating rudderless in all of these last years. Portugal needs a reliable strategy that can survive for a long term, because if each new government is erasing what the previous one did, we will never arrive in a good port. Portugal does not need more politicians that hunger for power, what the country needs is politicians able to make the right decisions and fight the system.

Edited by Laura Davidel