Economic crisis and national electoral season take front stage in Portugal

Public debate in Portugal has tended to be very largely focused on the economic crisis, and the fast approaching national electoral season, crowding out all other matters. News regarding companies filing for bankruptcy, the impact of the crisis on some banks, and rising unemployment, are dominant topics. Again, as in 2002, the fast approaching elections have seen news over the alleged involvement of the current Prime Minister or those close to him in a number of scandals. Particularly salient has been the apparent attempt by a British company to bribe Portuguese officials in order to get permission for a major shopping outlet near Lisbon. It is uncertain whether these speculations together with the current crisis will damage the electoral prospects of the Socialists in the parliamentary elections due to be held in the autumn of 2009 and which will decide the shape of the future government.[1] Attention to international matters has been dominated by concerns with the crisis and more specifically with its impact on Portugal. There has therefore been less room for matters of traditional interest to Portugal, like relations between the EU and Africa, the Mediterranean and Brazil, even if they have not been completely eclipsed. This was the case namely of the second EU-Brazil summit adopting a joint road-map for this strategic partnership.[2] And of the conflict in Gaza, that again ignited Portuguese concerns regarding the Arab-Israeli conflict as a constant source of tension in the Mediterranean region.[3]

 

 

 

[1] See e.g. Público: Licenciamento do outlet de Alcochete põe primeiro-ministro em xeque, 24 January 2009.
[2] Lusa (news agency): UE/Brasil: União Europeia e Brasil adoptam no Rio “roteiro” para parceria estratégica lançada em Lisboa, 19 December 2008.
[3] See e.g. Diário de Notícias: Editoral. Guerra em Gaza sem fim fácil à vista, 9 January 2009; public letter signed by Mahdu Abdul Hadi et al.: Gaza: Cessar-Fogo Imediato, available at: http://www.ieei.pt/ (last access: 30. January 2009).