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Costa fails to rebuild his government coalition and Portugal heads to the polls

Costa shows a document during his speech before the Assembly. / EFE

The prime minister, who warns that he has never thought of resigning, carries out last-minute maneuvers to move the Budgets forward

The left has been broken in Portugal. As has historically occurred in this political spectrum, atomized by nature, the weak rope that interwoven it has seen its threads unravel one by one until only the last remains. And this is in serious danger of fracturing this Wednesday if the Left Bloc (BE), the Communist Party (PCP) and Los Verdes -the last two integrated in the Unitary Democratic Coalition-, which support the government coalition headed by the Socialist Party. of António Costa, finally they fulfill their threat and say ‘no’ to the Budgets. This would force the president, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, to call new elections, probably next January.

How has the supposed progressive Lisbon Executive reached this situation if until recently it was praised even outside its borders for its economic and social management? Simple matter of disagreements, increasingly accentuated, as in Spain, which with parallel protagonists can be plunged into a similar situation before the end of this term.

The sector furthest to the left of this conjunction of Portuguese lefts claims to have already lost patience in the face of continuous socialist breaches of the program signed in 2016 to carry out the joint project of governing a country that had just suffered a serious economic and social crisis. Issues related to work, health or pensions seem to separate the partners until now and put an end to an idyll that always lacked the necessary dose of romanticism. Also like in Spain.

9.7 billion from Europe

The accounts for 2022, the supposed first year post-covid, will have the liquidity of 9,700 million euros of European funds. It has been the way of distributing this money that has revealed the different philosophy with which the members of the entente that makes up the Cabinet, baptized as ‘geringonça’, interpret the needs of our neighbors to the West.

All the actors of this political fado, especially Costa himself, maneuvered this Tuesday to find a fix that allows to prolong the marriage of convenience so that citizens do not suffer their problems of coexistence. They did so on the opening day of the Budget debate that took place in the Assembly of the Republic before the vote on Wednesday. The Socialist Party (PS) has 108 of the 230 deputies that the Chamber has, the BE has 18 and the coalition between the PCP and Los Verdes is twelve, so it needs, at least, the abstention of some of these wayward formations . Last night this seemed unlikely to say the least.


  • Rui Rio – PSD, right.
    “It is clear that the parliamentary majority on which the Government was based has been dissolved”

  • José Soeiro – Left Block (BE).
    «Avoiding the political crisis is in the hands of António Costa. Our position is not radical at all »

  • Paula Santos – Communist Party.
    “The agreements signed on the strengthening of the health service are impossible to postpone”

  • José Luís Ferreira – The Greens.
    “From what we are seeing, there are no great conditions to change the negative direction of our vote”

However, Costa already achieved the miracle of mixing water and oil six years ago. And it also did so in 2019, when a similar crisis was experienced due to disagreement over updating teachers’ salaries. It was only surpassed thanks to the change in the voting direction of the right, which positioned itself with the Socialists. This time this formula seems quite complicated.

What does not cross the mind of the prime minister is to resign. “My duty is not to turn my back in times of difficulty,” Costa said Tuesday, who opened the door to explore any avenue, no matter how impassable it may seem, that allows dialogue to avoid an electoral advance, although in his speech before the hemicycle of the Assembly of the Republic warned that “not at any price.”

If it guaranteed “a serious effort of rapprochement” to the rest of the forces that make up the government coalition. “Nothing justifies ending the path we started in 2016. There is still a road to walk and we must continue,” he stressed.

During the session, the Left Bloc (BE), the Communist Party (PCP) and Los Verdes remained firm in their refusal and agreed that only “black magic” could redirect the situation. According to his representatives, it must be António Costa who gives his arm to twist.


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