There is no fourth republic on the way, nor the possibility of Portugal becoming a neo-fascist state. Likewise, there was no Trotskyist dictatorship when the Bloc rose to s and unthinkable influence in a healthy democracy. The robustness of the Portuguese democratic system is remarkable after 46 years, filled with difficult moments and profound trials. At all times, the values of freedom, democracy and equality before the law were stronger than the harsh constraints of the different crises that were going through.
Still, everything that really matters deserves care and attention. The regime currently faces challenges that come mainly from the founders' failure. The democratic narrowness of the protagonists of the two largest parties opens space for the growth of both extremes. If the two main stakeholders devalue the untouchability of the great democratic principles, the flank relaxes for the entrance of anti-systemic opportunism.
Rui Rio has always exercised power in manifest tension with the procedures that a healthy democracy requires. He slandered artists, was angry with the press, invented conflicts with any and all forms of scrutiny to the exercise of his power. He always believed in the salacious formula that if he did not steal and had the right balance sheet, it would be enough to not have to satisfy anyone.
Democracy doesn’t work like that, a big city or a country doesn’t rule with a pencil behind their ears and an open ledger, in contempt for scrutiny, for the debate of ideas and solutions, for the commitment and for the global and future vision, that each day is required. A ruler is not a bookkeeper, no great statesman was a bookkeeper. The nostalgic hold on to this facet of Salazar, because they know that they cannot remember others.
António Costa, in turn, is a pragmatist in the exercise of power. He remembers Groucho Marx a lot when he said “these are my principles, but if you want, I have others”. From the Bloc to the PSD, Costa plays everything with absolute flexibility, to maintain his power and the group that follows him in this demand. It is the story of your life. The recurring praise they give you, always falls on skill, never on verticality.
It is not surprising, therefore, that neither of the two, Costa and Rio, this overlap between PS and PSD sounds strange. It is true that both parties are tributaries of social democracy, but it is also true that the different leaders throughout history have taken care to show them differently to the electorate. The approval of the legislative package that brutally reduces the Prime Minister's parliamentary scrutiny, which, with anti-Moreira blindness, reduces the possibilities of independent candidacies and dramatically conditions the right to petition, is the face of Rio and Costa's immediate convenience . It is, above all, an ignominious blow to democracy.
Democracy is based on clear options and differentiation of choices. I leave my tribute to the MPs of the PS and PSD who remained faithful to the founding principles of the two parties, voting courageously against this coup. Today, confirming everything I have just written about Rio, we learned that non-aligned deputies will be subject to an internal disciplinary process.
At the moment, recovering from a tragic electoral result, only the CDS maintains normalcy, among the three democratic parties that founded the regime. In a highly demanding mission, the CDS must grow again, contribute heavily to the system and preserve the effective barrier mission to the extreme right. Basically, do what the left wing of the PS did for a long time on the other end. When the left wing of the PS became intoxicated and confused with the BE, we had, and still have, the intoxication of the system; if the CDS somehow compromised with the extreme right, we would have new intoxication and, probably, the end of the CDS.
The regime's parties were credited over 46 years for the use of reason, evidently conformed in a referential framework of ideas and values, which always differentiated them from each other. Fringe parties, or extremes, are essentially characterized by emotion, by immediacy, speaking to highly discontented audiences and thirsty for fracturing individual solutions, without taking care of framing or impacts; the responsibility does not pass there.
The pro-drug and pro-everything holiday camps that they like from BE, the anti-system, xenophobic and populist demonstrations of Chega, the historical revisionism of both, the laundering of the worst monsters of both, are not compatible with the exercise of power in a democratic regime. The effect on the growth of the extreme right was seen, which had the participation of BE in the governance, by the skillful hand of Costa. The rise of one extreme always provokes the reaction and mobilization of the other.
Strengthening the regime, and democracy, requires leaders who believe and profess the fundamental values of its foundation. The conviction in defense of the regime cannot be exclusively the responsibility of the CDS and dispersed senators, such as Sérgio Sousa Pinto, Francisco Assis or Pedro Pinto. The PS will have to demand Costa infinitely more in this chapter, preparing its succession outside the two predicted dolphins. The PSD will have to think about whether it wants to live up to Sá Carneiro or behind the counter of the grocery store.
None of the three democratic parties in the founding of the regime can mimic and overlap, under penalty of swamp, the discrediting of themselves and the regime itself; that's what has happened with the Costa-Rio duo. At the same time, none of these parties can exchange the discourse of reason for the shock of emotion, falling into the temptation to go to the fringes for what they did not know how to captivate in the center of the system.
There is no fourth republic on the way, but the third needs to regenerate urgently. Not because of extremes, but because of the center, which deserves respect and does not give up on democracy.
The author writes according to the old spelling.