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: (last access: 30. Jan­u­ary 2009).