Faced with the disagreement of deputies, journalists or colleagues in the government of Pedro Passos Coelho, the idiosyncratic Vítor Gaspar often started the contradictory with the following phrase: "there seems to be some confusion on this topic, I will explain". An unnerving stratagem, of course, but effective and that I will recycle.
There seems to be some confusion here: the idea that dangerous, populist and / or far-right phenomena, such as Donald Trump, Marine Le Pen, Nigel Farage, Jair Bolsonaro, the Spanish Vox or the local version in the form of André Ventura, arise because of the errors of the left, be it center-left or radical.
There is no denying that these errors and trappings were committed, in the form of alleged corruption (as in the case of the PT in Brazil and José Sócrates in Portugal), dangerous military ambitions (Tony Blair and the Iraq war), links with capital (which helped to demonize Hillary Clinton) or the repeated inability to implement or maintain economic measures that promote the promised fairer and more comprehensive development.
There is no denying that the mistakes resulted in profound disillusionment for a large part of the population, unhappy with the direction of their lives and the way they were being treated by the government. This disillusionment created a kind of vacuum, a great opportunity for populism and a manipulation of reality that led many voters to vote for politicians who claim to be 'anti-system', but who are rarely and only use the term to mask extreme ideologies.
But we can deny, yes, that the parties of the left are the main responsible for the emergence of parties like the Tea Party or Chega.
The opportunity was seized, and in what way, by movements with very specific characteristics. Well funded, networked and coordinated internationally by figures like Steve Bannon. They used social networks, their own means of communication, lack of honesty, the demonization of minorities and other parties to gain scale. Put bluntly, it is their fault, because they made these choices, because they fostered division in society.
Left-wing parties clearly have to introspect and try to correct some of the mistakes of the past. But that process must also be done by others guilty of the emergence of Donald Trumps and André Venturas from this world - the center-right parties.
These parties celebrated the failure of the so-called 'third way' created by the center-left, but did not realize, or understood too late, that the one who was, in fact, gaining from it was the extreme on their right.
In the USA, the Tea Party was a kind of virus that infected Republicans. In the UK, UKIP forced conservatives to embark on the disastrous Brexit adventure. In France, Jacques Chirac's party is almost gone, while Marine Le Pen has reached the second round of the last presidential elections, just as his father, Jean-Marie, had achieved in 2002.
In Portugal, the PSD strives to give a sign of life in the face of the growth of Chega and created a dangerous precedent by celebrating the agreement in the Azores. The CDS-PP, an orphan of Paulo Portas, waned to become the party of the 'taxi' again, the main victim of its own strategy and the ambition of André Ventura.
In the political battle, pointing the blame at the wrong opponent is dangerous, because the other competitor, the real culprit who plays dirty, comes out unscathed and ready to do more damage. It should not be necessary to explain this to some politicians.