sexta-feira, 23 de janeiro de 2015

Opposition Coalition Fiasco

After the success of the coalition for change in the municipal elections, momentum was gathering for an enlarged coalition to topple the PSD at the forthcoming elections. This looks increasingly unlikely.

Following the purge at the City Hall, last year, when the Mayor ditched three of his elected councillors, with the backing of the Socialist party, the oposition momentum disappeared. The New Democracy Party left the coalition and the Bloco Esquerda has rejected joining a new coalition for the regional elections. The Socialist Party is now negotiating a much reduced coalition with the Labour Party (PTP), Earth Party (MPT) and Party for the Animals and Nature (PAN).

The Christian Democrats CDS had mooted joining a coalition with the Socialists if the candidate for the Presidency of the Regional Government would be someone other than Vitor Freitas, the current Socialist Leader. Vitor has no curriculum and even less charisma and is not taken by the electorate as a serious candidate for heading a government. The New Democracy Party would also consider joining a coalition, if the candidate was someone else.

Last week, the Funchal constituency of the Socialist Party, lead by Iglesias, called for Vitor to reconsider his candidature and open the possibility for a broader coalition, namely with the CDS.
There were moves also to evict the Labour Party of José Manuel Coelho, from a such a coalition between the CDS and the Socialists. Judging by the comments on the Diário news article, Igleasias' plea was also a manouver to put forward Cafofo, the new Mayor of Funchal as a coalition candidate (Iglesias is his right hand man).

 However, the Socialist Party has other much more credible, experienced and appealing possible candidates. It looks unlikely that any of these will step forward, however, and that a split opposition will hand a new overall majority to Albuquerque's PSD.

quinta-feira, 15 de janeiro de 2015

Jardim steps down, 2014 in review

Jardim resigned as head of the Regional Government on the 12th of January, following internal elections won by the former mayor of Funchal, Miguel Albuquerque. The latter beat Jardim's appointed successor, Miguel António Correia, in the second round of elections.

2014 was rather depressing. Not only was the Cuba Livre hidden debt investigation shelved by the prosecutor, despite having found that the debt was deliberately hidden. Nobody was held accountable, which is typical of the Public Prosecution in Portugal.

The eight PND activists accused in the protest held in the Jornal da Madeira were convicted. The judge, Joanna Dias, known to be pro-regime even noted that it was not proved that the Jornal is not impartial - when even the candidates to the leadership of the PSD were publicly protesting its being an instrument of Jardim. The judgement is being appealled.

In the light of the judgement, the PND put in a request that the cases brought against the Jornal for election violations be speeded up. Two weeks later they were all shelved with absolutely absurd premises. Such as that the newspaper was not responsible for opinion pieces, ignoring the fact that all the opinion peices were written by Jardim's party members and there was no pluralism of opinion whatsoever. In one case the prosecutor even ignored completely two decisions of the Constitutional Court taken before the elections, which the Jornal chose to ignore. We appealed both.In the first case, the judge maintained the Public Prosecutor's view; in the second, the one with the two decisions of the Constitutional Court, the judge has remained silent...

Gil Canha and I were also convicted in the lower court in two libel cases brought against the Garajau over the Ports case.  Last year, however, the Supreme Court acquitted the Sol newspaper, against which the Ports had brought an action against an article which covered most of the same material. As our lawyer pointed out, the jurisprudence is shifting from the Courts protecting the powerful, to protecting the right to criticise, even if the criticisms are unpleasant.

In Court the accusation lawyer made much of his friendship with Cristina Pedra and that she had been appointed advisor to the Court, such was her fantastic reputation. He centered his attack on the fact we were convinced that criminal accusations would result of the investigation, which turned out not to be the case. Our lawyer then proceeded through all the scams the company had made, that despite not being criminal, due to the nature of the company, meant that perhaps Cristina Pedra may not be held up to be the saint she was being portrayed as being, but rather as an ordinary mortal. He noted the political controversy over the ports monopoly, which still exists to this day, and the political role of the Government in maintaining the system, and the sale of its quota of the company soon after the facts which were subject of the investigation became public.