PSD National Council meets in turbulent period for the Government and some internal criticism

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The meeting is scheduled for 9pm at a hotel in Lisbon, at a time when the first internal public criticism of Luís Montenegro’s opposition has emerged.

The PSD National Council meets on Wednesday, in a period of turbulence in the Government, with cases and resignations, but also in which the first internal public criticism of Luís Montenegro’s opposition arises.

The meeting is scheduled for 9 pm, at a hotel in Lisbon, and on the agenda are the approval of internal accounts and changes to the quota regulation, with the usual item dedicated to the political situation.

At the last meeting of the highest body between Congresses — in November to approve the party’s constitutional revision project — PSD president Luís Montenegro had challenged anyone who voiced criticism under anonymity to show their face at the National Council.

“The less intrigue we create for ourselves, the more able we will be to pass our intentions,” he then pointed out, in a meeting that took place peacefully, with only a few comments on the way the process of drafting the diploma on the Constitution was conducted internally.

Since then, IL presented a motion of censure against the Government in early January and the PSD leadership decided to abstain — arguing that it is not time for new elections, only a year after the PS’s absolute majority – and, last week, a critical explanation of vote (delivered a few days after the debate) by deputies André Coelho Lima and Carlos Eduardo Reis, prominent supporters of former president Rui Rio, became known.

In the text, the two deputies – who followed the party’s voting discipline – considered there were reasons to censure the Government and approve the IL motion, arguing that current times “do not tolerate lukewarmness” and “require vocalization” of the PSD’s differentiation, warning against the risks of “lack of demarcation” with abstention.

On this explanation of vote, Montenegro stressed that “the PSD is a democratic party and that each one thinks for his head”, but recalled that he attended a meeting of the parliamentary group to inform the abstention “eye to eye with the deputies” and, at that time, was not “confronted with any contrary opinion”, referring to a meeting scheduled the day before and in which neither Coelho Lima nor Carlos Eduardo Reis were present.

Friday also saw the publication of an article in Expresso by the losing candidate in the last direct elections, Jorge Moreira da Silva, in which the former vice-president of the PSD criticizes the government, but also the opposition parties that “do not risk presenting alternatives and limit themselves to a record of combat”, announcing that he will promote, as of the end of January, “a broad public discussion on a new generation of policies and measures capable of positioning Portugal”.

Former leader Rui Rio also returned to the public space last week — although without commenting on national politics — and Pedro Passos Coelho has appeared, via social networks, in lunches with party figures such as former Secretary of State José Eduardo Martins, keeping silent since, in December, he wrote an article in the online newspaper Observador calling on parties against the decriminalization of euthanasia to commit to reversing the law in the future, if they have a majority in parliament.

This position was strongly disagreed with by Luís Montenegro, who considered it “too closed”, and came after the PSD proposed a referendum on the issue – which was not even admitted due to unconstitutionality – days before the law went to a final vote in parliament.

The first PSD National Council of this year takes place a few days before the first anniversary of the PS’s absolute majority and a few weeks after several resignations in the government — including that of Pedro Nuno Santos — which led the executive to approve a questionnaire for prior verification to be filled out by guests for ministers or secretaries of state, which covers the last three years of activities and extends to the household.

In recent days, news about controversies and legal cases involving members of the executive, such as Finance Minister Fernando Medina, Foreign Minister and former Defense Minister João Gomes Cravinho, and Environment Minister Duarte Cordeiro, have continued, which has already led the prime minister to argue that judicial investigations should not be the target of political attack.

Questioned several times about the consequences of the ‘cases’ on the government, the President of the Republic, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, has flatly dismissed the dissolution scenario, saying that “it is not clear that an obvious and strong immediate alternative to what exists would emerge”.

Also a PSD deputy and prominent Montenegro supporter was involved in a recent court case: as part of Operation Vortex, which resulted in the arrest of the mayor of Espinho (PS) Miguel Reis (who has since resigned), the residence of Joaquim Pinto Moreira was searched and his computer and cell phone seized.

The former mayor between 2009 and 2021 was not, for the time being, constituted defendant nor reached the parliament the request for lifting his parliamentary immunity, but has already left the vice-presidency that held the bench of the PSD and the chairmanship of the constitutional review commission.

The president of the PSD expressed himself “disgusted and outraged” with what he says are “politically motivated maneuvers” to try to associate himself with Operation Vortex, leaving the assurance that this does not intimidate or leave weakened.

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