"Yes, we have something to learn from Portugal". That is how Pilar del Río, widow of the Portuguese writer and Nobel Prize for Literature, José Saramago, ends his opinion article published this Saturday in the online edition of the newspaper “El Diario”. The Spanish journalist, writer and translator weaves throughout this article events from Portuguese political life, comparing them with the troubled moments that are lived in Spain, namely with regard to the challenge to the Government led by Pedro Sánchez.
In the Spanish political context, the days when the opposition swore to support the government to overcome the terrible scourge of the Covid-19 pandemic are long gone. The coalition executive between PSOE and Unidas Pode begins to show some weariness after 17 weeks of governance.
“The photo of the President of the Portuguese Republic in sports shorts and joining the queue to enter the supermarket outside Portugal, but this happens in his country, where the majority of the population considers it normal for civil servants to take care of their domestic life ”, Writes Pilar del Rio, who recalls yet another episode in the 90's and which involves another President of the Republic:“ in the distant 90's, I saw President Jorge Sampaio pushing a shopping cart and Sampaio, unlike Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa , it is not expansive ”.
For Pilar del Río, the naturalness of Marcelo's photo “and the praise that was given to members of the Government and to the opposition of Portugal, for their behavior during the hard days of the pandemic cannot be confused with the absence of turbulence in political life Portuguese: they exist and are not insignificant ”.
José Saramago's widow envisions that, according to "all oracles, there will be a government crisis in Portugal, not attributable to obscure maneuvers but to the very dynamics of politics". Pilar del Río referred to the more than probable departure of Mário Centeno from the Government and to the “controversy triggered by a legal loan, although inopportune and barely explains, to a bank for sale, the Novo Banco”. And how was this issue resolved? “Costa and Centeno sat down (…) they assumed errors of interpretation (…) and almost gave a hug, breaking the social distance (…) the problem existed, the solution too”, writes the journalist.
For the journalist and translator, the scenes of Portuguese social and political life “contrast with Spanish tension”. Pilar del Río also speaks of António Costa's expression of support for Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa in the race for the next presidential elections: “The normal thing in the electoral processes is that each party presents its candidate, but it can happen that whoever exercises the function has won sympathy citizens, regardless of their ideological options ”.
Pilar del Río ends the opinion article by pointing out that the latest events in Portugal “teach that in more advanced societies, civil wars are not functional. So, we have something to learn from Portugal ”.