Majority of parties rejects changing the preamble of the Constitution and emphasizes its historical value


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Liberal Initiative and Chega are the only parties that want to change the preamble of the Constitution, removing the reference to opening a path “towards a socialist society”

PS, PSD, PCP, BE, PAN and Livre rejected this Thursday any changes to the preamble of the Constitution, as proposed by Chega and IL, with the discussion focusing on its possible legal value.

At this Thursday’s meeting of the possible constitutional revision commission, the discussion of the draft amendments to the fundamental law began article by article, with only the preamble being debated.

The Liberal Initiative and Chega are the only two parties that want to change the preamble of the Constitution by removing the reference to opening a path “to a socialist society.”

Chega also wants to eliminate “references to the fascist period,” while the liberals want to add to the already expressed reference to the April 25 Revolution a new one: “On November 25, 1975, Portugal was consolidated as a full democratic regime, preventing the establishment of a communist regime.

“We have to decide whether the preamble is a mere historical object or whether it has normative value (…) It is wrong to say that it doesn’t have [normative value],” said André Ventura, citing Constitutional Court (TC) rulings from the 1980s that invoked the preamble to make jurisprudence.

The leader of Chega justified the proposal with the aim of materializing “the ideological neutrality” of the Constitution of the Republic, which “should not exclude political camps.”

The former Liberal Initiative president also argued that, “in the limit,” the preamble always has “interpretive influence on constitutional decisions.”

“I want to give all due respect to the preamble of the Constitution, precisely because I will not consider it a mere historical piece,” João Cotrim Figueiredo pointed out.

In view of the announced ‘lead’ of the amendments, Cotrim Figueiredo said that the parliament should, at least, define that the preamble cannot serve as a basis for future decisions of the TC, considering that without this proviso this risk exists for the future.

Parties accuse Chega and IL of wanting to “rewrite history”

For the PS, Pedro Delgado Alves considered that “the matter is settled as to the legal value of the preamble”, saying that “nobody gives it normative value today” and pointed out that, since the 80s, the TC has never used it as an argument.

“It has no interpretative value, it mirrors the moment of its approval, April 2, 1976 (…) It is not a text in which it makes sense to open historical fractures, let’s leave the preamble alone,” defended the ‘vice’ of the socialist bench.

PSD deputy André Coelho Lima also considered that “this is a dated document” and warned that, if it had normative value, “the discussion would be different”.

“The preamble is a preface, it is the authors’ note at the time it was written, to change the meaning of the preface is to take away its own meaning (…) For us it is clear, it has no value of law, if it had normative meaning the non-victories of the PS would be unconstitutional,” he ironized.

PCP deputy Alma Rivera considered the discussion rehashed, with the only novelty being that it was not led by the CDS, but by IL and Chega, but she pointed out that, if “it has no normative value, it is not simply historical either,” and “contributes to a reading of the Constitution.

“Chega and IL want to rewrite history by attributing to the Constituent Assembly of ’76 a text written by them 50 years later (…) There is always a revanchism and settling of scores with the Constitution,” he criticized, in an intervention that Cotrim Figueiredo considered offensive.

PCP, as well as PS, BE and PAN, criticized Chega’s intention to remove the reference to the “fascist regime” from the preamble, with the block parliamentary leader Pedro Filipe Soares expressing “complete opposition” to any change.

“It is absolutely undeniable that it has historical value, but it is contradictory to stop at that historical value. It is neutral neither in the face of history nor in the face of actuality,” he argued.

PAN’s only representative Inês Sousa Real considered that this initial text of the Constitution has no legal force, while Rui Tavares, Livre’s only representative, argued that the preamble’s historical value “only enhances it.

“The preamble is a crystallized history that, at a certain moment, refers us to the future and intends to set limits for the future regime,” he said, generating general laughter as he hypothesized that a child would be given a Constitution dated April 2, ’76 at school this Thursday that spoke of liberal democracy.

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