quinta-feira, 29 de setembro de 2011

New Democracy Party sit-in in the Jornal da Madeira - church

The New Democracy Party sit-in had the objective of drawing attention to the use of the Jornal for PSD propaganda in violation of the election law. The aim was to speak to the direction of the Jornal and to the major stake-holders, the Church and the Government.

Though the Church has only a symbolic share in the Jornal company, according to the company statutes, it is the Diocese (i.e. the Bishop) who appoints the editor and is responsible for guiding the editoral line. Over the last few years, the PND has repeatedly written to the Bishop to request an audience to discuss the Jornal. It was never granted.

On entering the building, the delegation was immediately received with violence on the part of the Jornal administrator, Rui Nobrega (marreid to a prominent local judge), who expelled the accompanying journalists from the building and tried (with the help of staff) to focefully evict the PND delegation.

Nobrega then lodged a complaint at the Police requesting a forceful eviction of the PND. In mid-afternoon, the Police informed the Rapid Intervention Brigade was ready to forcefully remove the delegation from the building. They were then informed that the builing belonged to the Diocese and that the eviction request could legally only be made by the Bishop. The Bishop refused to lodge criminal charges against the sit-in and later in the day, the Police informed that this being the case their mission was over.

Throughout the day, a crowd of hundreds gathered outside the Jornal in solidarity with the sit-in. Various oppoisition parties made statements in solidarity with the action. The Socialist Party, the largest opposition party, stated that whereas the PND were barricaded in the building for a few hours, President Jardim has been 'barricading' himself inside for over three decades. The Animal Party also joined the protest ouside for some time and José Manuel Coelho, from the Workers' Party, parked his van outside and addressed the crowd throughout the day. The sit-in lasted until 20.15 - ten hours.

In the evening, the Diocese issued a statement saying it did not meet with political parties in the period preceding an election; it omitted to say that it has repeatedly denied requests made over the last few years to discuss the Jornal. The current Bishop is the cousin of the President of the Republic - a former PSD prime-minister, who similarly refuses to even comment on election violations in Madeira.

New Democracy Party sit-in in the Jornal da Madeira - reasons

The New Democracy Party staged a sit-in in the government-owned propaganda paper, the Jornal da Madeira. The Jornal has continued biased reporting of the election campaigns and had failed to comply with the National Comission of Election deliberation ordering it to respect pluralism of opinion.

The National Comission of Elections (NCE) had twice ruled against the Jornal for its biased coverage and lack of pluralism in two previous elections, remitting the information to the Public Prosecutor's Office. This, however, was the first time that the Comission had taken a decision prior to the election date itself.

The New Democracy Party had lodged a complaint regarding lack of pluralism at the beggining of August and the NCE deliberated in early September that the Jornal should comply with the law and observe the rules of impartiality and pluralism. The decision, however, was overturned by the Supreme Court following an appeal by the Jornal, saying that the NCE had not provided enough evidence. The Comission repeated its decision, this time with ample factual evidence and the Supreme Court upheld the decision, which was made public on the 22nd of September.

The Jornal has cut the number of its political opinion peices, but continues only publishing articles from the ruling party and it coverage is totally biased towards the PSD and the Jardim Government.

Madeira Debt: 5,800 million Euro

Two weeks ago President Jardim was claiming the Madeira debt did not exceed one year's budget, now he has admitted it is over four budgets. The revelations have been made due to the fact that the 'Troika' (European Bank, FMI and EU Comission) have been auditing the Madeira accounts and it was no longer possible to hide the magnitude of the debt. The audits had already uncovered a hole o 2,000 million Euro of undeclared debt. Oppostion parties fear the real debt is well over 6,000 million Euros and that there is more hidden debt that has not yet been uncovered.

The national PSD - CDS coalition government has refused to divulge what measures the international institutions are imposing on Madeira in order to reduce the debt and President Jardim himself (already taking for granted that he will be elected with a new overall majority), though he has refused to participate in any debates or reveal any measures to pay back the debt, has already stated that he will not comply with any measures imposed and has threatened to declare Madeira's independence.