Portuguese presidential elections

on 11:11 pm

So have you seen any of the six men you see here on the right in your town? They've been adding up the kilometres travelling up and down and across this country trying to convince you to vote for them (if you're eligible that is, or in other words, if you're Portuguese).
This Sunday, January 23rd, Portugal will go to the polls to pick out its President of the Republic. Now many of you may ask: why a President of the Republic if there's a Prime Minister already?

Well the President of the Republic, theoretically, has grand powers - to guarantee unity of the State and regulate the functionality of democracy in Portugal. What does this mean? It means that s/he has the power to dissolve government when s/he sees fit. Since the 25 de Abril, only once has this happened (Jorge Sampaio did away with the government of Pedro Santana Lopes in 2004). Sounds like a great job doesn't it? I bet s/he gets the best pair of scissors in the country though. Ribbon cuttings anyone?

So how does one go about convincing the people that 'if I wanted to, I could dissolve a government better then the others'? From my experience today, in two word: free giveaways. Pens, pocket calendars, ballons for the kids... Well I guess that's not that bad, after all there was the one guy up north who offered up refrigerators in exchange for votes (that's Valentim Loureiro mayor of the municipality of Gondomar by the way).

And so now I sit questioning myself: should I vote for the guy whose campaign people provided me with a free pocket calendar today? Will he be the right guy for government dissolving when government dissolving is needed? Will he even know when the situation requires some government dissolving?

Oh decisions! Such are the pains of democracy.


Anonymous said...

The "Presidente" can also dissolve the parliament and promote election: Ramalho Eanes 1979 and Mario Soares 1987.
He can invite a person to prime-minister and propose this one to the parliament to make a gouvernment (governo de iniciativa presidencial).
The most important is the social influencial effect about what he can speak to the people about home politics.

joao said...

Yes the Presidente of the Republic can invite a person to take up the role of prime-minister and get them to assemble government, as undemocratic as that may sound. One can only hope such an appointment would be temporary, until elections are again held. To sum up though, it's almost like the "President" is the elected watch dog or should I say "big brother" of this reality show we call Portugal.

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