In May 1992, the Portuguese Parliament held a debate on the democratic deficit in Madeira. The speech of the Socialist MP, Jaime Gama, addressed the issues of the asphyxiating effect of party-political power on the administration, economy and society; the lack of control in the regional accounts; the government’s control over media; the climate of permanent intimidation; the disrespect for the opposition; the quest for constant conflicts with institutions; and the isolationist conception of autonomy:
‘4 – A climate of intimidation against those who disagree.
When, everywhere, democratic powers nurture criticism, independent judgment, analytic spirit, controversy, disagreement and the open confrontation of opinions, the Regional Government of Madeira systematically intimidates all those who dare to differ.
Government communiqués which, in principle, should be destined to clarify the population on matters of public interest are frequently used to insult the authors of any observation that does not conform to the official viewpoint.
The President of the Regional Government does not refrain from grossly insulting any citizen who exercises his right to air any heterodox view on the merits of the regional administration.
Civil servants are forbidden from airing their opinion (they are criminally sued) and their advisory statements (pareceres) are obliged to be free of any views that discord with the Regional Government.
In a traditional society, where nobody welcomes to see their name attacked or insulted, the intimidating weight of verbal terrorism – to which the principal leader of the Government and the PSD leader of the regional parliament systematically resort to – is a powerful inhibiting factor and apolitical obstacle.
The reinforcement of autonomy in Madeira absolutely requires an end to this sort of practice. Democracy is not the tyranny of the majority.
5. The disrespect for the opposition – for all and any opposition -, namely in the Regional Parliament.
For the power installed in Madeira, the opposition is not another form of serving the interests of the archipelago, a possible alternative to the regional government or a healthy and necessary supervisor of acts of government. No! The opposition are purely and simply a band of criminals, who are treated like animals rather than decent citizens.
Whether a Communist or a Christian Democrat, an independant or a Socialist, anyone who opposes the PSD/Madeira has no reason whatsoever to exist. They are reduced to nothing, to a species of the most abject and despicable beings, their harassment as turncoats, delinquents or traitors, is one of the most perturbing aspects of the philosophy and practice of the regional PSD.
It is this totalitarian slide – which only does not reach a higher level of final implementation due to the national context – that leads to the level at which the Regional Parliament function:, a parliament where it is extremely difficult and indeed rare to be able to challenge the Government, to hold question and answer sessions, to obtain answers to requests or to constitute Commissions of Inquiry…
6 The search for a systematic confrontation with institutions
The logic of the behavior of the PSD Madeira has for long been that of de facto power, above all institutions and against them all.
For 16 years, the region has lived without a defined statute, a whim long tolerated and systematically used in a blind paranoia of confrontation from which no one escapes.
A trade union, an association or a party disagree – they are summarily tried, condemned and politically executed.
A businessman does not walk along the right corridors to win good grace – he is a vulgar capitalist.
A journalist, or a newspaper, does not obey – it will receive no subsidies, its (government) publicity will be cut, an edition or even the company will be bought, they are insulted and slandered.
A Bishop dares to refer to conditions of extreme poverty and promiscuity – there is an official communiqué against him.
The police or the courts want to exercise their functions in an independent manner – they must be regionalized.
The Armed Forces are not consistent with the whims of the regional authorities – they are a band of effeminate cowards.
The Minister of the Republic dares to veto a bill – he’s ‘cuban’.
The Prime Minister and the Government will not pay off the [region’s] debt – ‘we don’t need the national PSD for anything and if need be we can always resort to those arguments that everyone knows’ [i.e. the independence of Madeira]
The Portuguese Parliament wants to discuss Madeira – it is not competent and its members, beginning with those of the PSD, belong to a base political class.
The President of the Republic says there is a democratic deficit in the Region – he does not deserve that people get out of bed to reelect him.
This activism, which feeds itself on the still unrelenting conspiracy against Madeira, devastates all and leaves no one standing…
Nothing has changed since 1992 and all these traits have only become exacerbated with time.