From words to practice

The pandemic provided António Costa with the reason to finally bring Manuela Ferreira Leite's 'council' to life and try to stop democracy.

1. In 2008, in a failed act, Manuela Ferreira Leite, then president of the PSD, speaking of the difficulty of making reforms under a democratic regime, threw, to a general scandal, and indignation of the left in particular, the following sentence: “I do not know if, for certain At the time, it is not good to have six months without democracy; put everything in order and then, then, come democracy ”.

Twelve years later, António Costa, Prime Minister of a PS government, is trying to put these words into practice, regarding the fight against the pandemic caused by Covid-19.

2. It is unbelievable that the Government intends to impose on citizens, by means of a specific law, the discharge of a determined app on their mobile phones, making it a requirement that, if not met, would result in fines of up to 500 euros. More than unbelievable it is unacceptable - and it is still a political enormity, a third world thing.

There is no left and right here. There is or is not freedom. No health argument can justify the disorder.

This proposal runs counter to people's right to privacy and to manage their lives. Not even the current pandemic explains the governmental gesture of authoritarianism 'in the style of China', unworthy in a European country.

In another dimension, it would make sense for the Government to advise, explain, even educate, in the sense that people can decide on the use of certain protections. Such app it may be one of them. But the State should never even think of replacing the individual in making the decision. The limit is this.

3. It will be interesting to see how all parties will deal with the proposal, starting with the PS, the party that likes to complain about freedoms. In Parliament, we will be able to check the different readings of this disorder in the light of the Constitution of the Republic, so often invoked when it is useful. We are facing the supreme test of Rui Rio's collaborationism. And it will also be interesting to know what the President of the Republic thinks, and will do if, as it happens, the sleeping contraption works in favor of his ancestral palpitations.

4. So far I have only seen a sign of hope and rationality: the National Data Protection Commission (CNPD) promises to oppose, for legal and ethical reasons. Legal issues relating to citizens' privacy; the ethics having to do with the financial capacity of people to have access to mobile phones capable of supporting the StayAwayCovid application, which in the first phase was to be, like all others, for voluntary use.

The Constitutional Court, which recently considered the decision of the Regional Government of the Azores to impose a mandatory quarantine on anyone who arrived in the autonomous region to be unconstitutional, should also start preparing for this new dossier.

5. The Government would do better to fulfill its obligations. Forbidding and compelling is easy. It is difficult to find a solution for the Portuguese who travel canned every morning on the country's trains and buses, especially in the metropolises of Lisbon and Porto; defend the elderly homes, where the most vulnerable people face the disease; create space, in line with the NHS and the various private systems, for the adequate treatment of those who suffer from other diseases and cannot get assistance. That would be governing.

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