Suddenly, a race that seemed predictable and boring, with an early winner, gained new contours and reasons for interest. That winner, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, has not even registered for the race yet, but there are few doubts: he should repeat the feat of 2016, and be elected President of the Republic in the first round.
While we waited for the announcement of the re-election, the entries on the scene by Ana Gomes, Marisa Matias and, to a certain extent, João Ferreira, came, however, to show that the campaign for the presidential candidates may, after all, have reasons of interest besides discovering whether Marcelo will break the record of 70,35% of the votes obtained by Mário Soares in 1991.
Let's look at the three in reverse order of influence or interest. João Ferreira's candidacy represents a continuation of the attempt to rejuvenate the image of the PCP with the electorate. At 41, the MEP and councilman is already an experienced politician who deftly conveys the party's message. Unfortunately that 'tape' hasn't changed in decades and Ferreira is unlikely to reach even 5% in the race to Belém.
The Left Block chose Marisa Matias again. Five years ago, the MEP achieved a very respectable result, 10,12%, which placed her in third place behind Marcelo and Sampaio da Nóvoa. Polls show that it should be difficult to repeat the result, with a much more competitive starting grid.
Ana Gomes polarizes opinions. There are people who call her a vigilante, a rottweiler, others who accuse her of being inconsistent in positions and, worst of all, populist. Supporters see the other side of the coin: someone who fights injustice, discrimination and corruption.
The candidacy of the former ambassador and MEP will divide the socialist vote, trying to capitalize on the discomfort with the party's position, crystallized in that bizarre moment when António Costa revealed Marcelo as “his” candidate on the floor of the Autoeuropa factory. Ana Gomes has already come to talk about the “back” between President and Government, knowing that it is something that causes distrust to many socialists.
To the announcements of these three candidacies, André Ventura reacted in a typical way. He classified Ana Gomes as a “gypsy candidate”, Marisa Matias as a “marijuana candidate” and João Ferreira as a “plastic buddy”. Childish and insulting reactions are not surprising, but they do demonstrate additional discomfort.
Ventura wanted to use the stage to voice his extremist ideas, but now he will have to share the stage with others, especially with candidates who are not afraid to call their names by name.
Hopefully, the presidential campaign does not go down to the basic level of shouting that Ventura has already shown to like. The country is going through difficult times and it would be useful to use this campaign to discuss some difficult options that we will have to take.
Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa has an important role in this. He is the incumbent, the most experienced candidate. He should announce the candidacy now, without delay or unnecessary taboos. It will not be easy to be a candidate and President at the same time, but hopefully you will use these platforms to focus the debate on crucial issues, not getting involved in attacks between the other candidates. On the contrary, it has to elevate the discourse.
Marcelo likes to talk about everything and everyone, he can't resist. But it has to resist, to stifle the populist that we know how to live within itself.