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Portugal: A Protest Generation, Foolish and Scraping By

Hostilities have commenced. On March 12, in many cities across the country and outside Portuguese delegations throughout the European Union, youth are taking to the streets. According to the organization, the Geração à Rasca [The “Scraping-By” Generation] Protest is a “non-partisan, secular and peaceful protest, aiming to strengthen participatory democracy in the country” [pt]. It emerged as a spontaneous event on Facebook and, in less than a month it has gathered more than 50,000 [Update: 64.639] intentions to participate:

Poster for the "Scraping By" Generation Protest from the event created on Facebook

Poster for the "Scraping By" Generation Protest from the event created on Facebook

Nós, desempregados, “quinhentoseuristas” e outros mal remunerados, escravos disfarçados, subcontratados, contratados a prazo, falsos trabalhadores independentes, trabalhadores intermitentes, estagiários, bolseiros, trabalhadores-estudantes, estudantes, mães, pais e filhos de Portugal. Protestamos:
– Pelo direito ao emprego! Pelo direito à educação!
– Pela… melhoria das condições de trabalho e o fim da precariedade!
– Pelo reconhecimento das qualificações, competência e experiência, espelhado em salários e contratos dignos!

We, the unemployed, the “five-hundred-euro-ists” [referring to monthly wage] and others, poorly paid, disguised slaves, subcontracted, temps, supposed “independent workers” [hired as such by employers to avoid Social Security payments], intermittent workers, interns, fellows, student workers, students, mothers, fathers and children of Portugal. We protest:
– For the right to employment! For the right to education!
– For the improvement of working conditions and for the end of labor precariousness!
– For the recognition of [our] qualifications, competence and experience, reflected in dignified salaries and contracts!

Underemployment in context

Last December, TSF Radio News [pt] broadcaster reported on a data set from INE (National Institute of Statistics) which pointed out that “more than 300,000 young people have no [economic] activity”. In its website, the same radio broadcaster said, on February 24,  that “23 percent of the youth is unemployed, 720,000 have short-term contracts, and there is a further 14 percent increase in use of recibos verdes [workers earning in self-employed tax regime] recorded in the last three months”.

On the blog Epígrafe (Epigraph), Ricardo Salabert, from FERVE Movement (BOIL, an acronymn for Sick of these Recibos Verdes) [pt], explains this kind of relationship to labor markets:

Os recibos verdes são um modelo de facturação aplicável aos trabalhadores independentes, i.e., às pessoas que prestam serviços ocasionais para entidades várias (empresas ou particulares). São exemplo disso os médicos, os arquitectos (entre outros) que podem passar recibos verdes aos seus clientes, não tendo de se estabelecer como empresa.

Recibos verdes is an invoicing model applicable to the self-employed, ie, people who provide occasional services for several entities (companies or individuals). One example is doctors, architects (among others) that can use them to invoice their customers, without having to establish themselves as a company.

And so grows the share of workers who lack any kind of social protection (in sickness, pregnancy, death of relatives), without any holidays or other types of subsidy. These workers can be sent off by the employer at any time since, by law, they have no ties with the enterprise. There are tens of thousands of Portuguese, from all generations, with the status of “false recibos verdes” who are providing services to companies under the same conditions of those with an Employment Contract, as laid out in the Labor Code (article 12) [pt], that keeps them “precarious”.

Music fueling action

Some might call them the Neither-Nor Generation, as Rui Rocha explains [pt], on the blog Delito de Opinião (Crime Opinion):

Nem estudam, nem trabalham. (…) Tipicamente, esta é uma geração potencialmente melhor preparada do que as que a precederam e, aparentemente, muito segura de si. São, todavia, presa fácil da degradação do mercado laboral e não conseguem encontrar uma saída airosa, nem combater este estado de coisas. Os sociólogos identificam uma característica muito comum neste grupo: a inexistência de qualquer projecto de vida. As manifestações mais evidentes são a apatia e a indolência.

They neither study nor work. (…) Typically, this generation is potentially better prepared than its predecessors and it is apparently very self-assured. They are, however, easy prey to the degradation of the labor market and they cannot find a graceful way out, nor fight against this state of affairs. Sociologists identify a very common feature in this group: the absence of any life plan. The most obvious manifestations are apathy and indolence.

Around the end of January, the musical group Deolinda presented in its tour an unreleased piece that came to stir up emotion, giving a name and a voice to what has become, thereafter, known as the Foolish Generation.

Sou da geração sem remuneração
E nem me incomoda esta condição
Que parva que eu sou!
Porque isto está mau e vai continuar
Já é uma sorte eu poder estagiar
Que parva que eu sou!
E fico a pensar,
Que mundo tão parvo
Onde para ser escravo é preciso estudar…

I am from the generation without remuneration
And it doesn't even bother me this condition
What a fool I am!
Because things are bad and it will continue
Yet I am lucky I have an internship
What a fool I am!
And then I wonder,
Such a foolish world
Where, to become a slave, one must study …
Satire to Isabel Stilwell's article, on the Facebook page "artº 21" (article of the Portuguese Constitution which refers to the right to resist)

Satire to Isabel Stilwell's article, on the Facebook page "artº 21" (article of the Portuguese Constitution which refers to the right to resist)

Deolinda's song, with an increasing number of 345,000 views on YouTube, spontaneously became a hymn to the “(now) foolish generation”.

A few days after, the editorial [pt] of a free daily newspaper in Portugal, in the words of its director, Isabel Stilwell, said that “if they studied and they are slaves, they are fools indeed. Fools for having spent their parents’ money and our taxes to study and ending up not learning a thing”. In response she received thousands of comments, multiplying across social media.

The hymn then became the gunpowder that ignited the fuse for everyone who feels is paying for mistakes made ​​by the generation that came before [pt].

Many problems, few solutions

If on one hand this has brought some together in common resistance, on the other hand many others have distanced themselves. It has awoken some semi-dormant debates.

While the blog O Jumento (Jackass) reflects on the inter-generational solidarity (or the lack of it) [pt], Helena Matos, on the blog Blasfémias (Blasphemy), questions the legitimacy [pt] of this generation to claim the same rights as their parents:

Preparam-se agora os ditos membros da geração à rasca não para exigir que os mais velhos mudem de vida mas sim que também eles possam manter esse tipo de vida. Quem vier depois que se amanhe. A prosseguirmos, dentro de alguns anos, assistiremos a protestos de gerações que se dirão bem pior do que à rasca.

The so-called members of the “scraping-by” generation are now getting ready not to urge older people to change their lives but to demand that they too can also maintain that kind of life. Those who come after will manage. Down the line, within a few years, we will see protests by the generations that will describe themselves as much worse than “scraping by”.

Luis Novaes Tito appeals for a change [pt] to the status quo, on the blog A Barbearia do Senhor Luis (Mr. Luis Barber Shop), making a warning though regarding the conflict of generations:

Concordo que, em vez de chorarem pelos cantos embalados pelo faducho do “já não posso mais”, vão para a rua gritar que é tempo de mudar, antes que os mandem embalar a trouxa e zarpar.

I agree that instead of crying in the corners wrapped up in a Fado-like “I cannot go on anymore”, just go onto the streets screaming that it's time to change, before they send you packing and fleeing.

From posts and comments, to editorials and opinion pieces in traditional media, there are also those who keep trying to push society to the heart of the problem: causes and solutions (knowing that it is easier to agree on causes than solutions). So the discussion has extended to the role of the State and the legislator, and also to Universities and institutions of higher education.

And so goes Portugal, “a country of mild manners”, whose basket of conformism may have filled up once and for all. Far from finding a platform for consultation between the political class, civil society and the very Generation in question, the movement that grew and spread against the odds now seeks the path to maturity. Today is its first major test to go through, and, given the fragility of counting on numbers from social networks, we will only know the true extent of this generation's will to change a country when the hour comes. And we wait. Anxiously.

This article was proofread by Janet Gunter.

42 comments

  • John

    It is so sad that the reaction to the crisis in Portugal has manifested itself as a demand by the country’s youth for rights and protection. This is Portugal’s opportunity to change direction, for the younger generation to take responsibility for their future, rather than wait for it to be handed to them, as it was to their parents. Give them what they want now and the “generation” that is demonstrating today in the streets of Lisbon will become their parents, clinging on to what they have with their “exmo. senhor Doutors”, their subsidies and their new BMWs, as the country slowly rots.

    Portugal’s young people have no more right to decent work and a decent future than anyone else in the world, and they need to wake up to the fact that a decent job is not a right, it is a privilege that must be earned every day. It is not something that anyone can artificially protect on a sustainable basis, and the more we try, the more we will end up stifling the economy and our future.

    Sure, there are a lot of things wrong with the system of green receipts, short term contracts, untouchable state employees, toll roads, I can go on and on, but all I see right now is people arguing about how to rearrange the deckchairs on the proverbial Titanic. There is only one guarantee of job security and good wages, of prospects for people of all ages, and that is economic prosperity. We need to make Portugal prosperous, make Portuguese companies prosperous and successful, and the jobs will come. It does not work the other way round. It never has.

    We have to ask ourselves, how we can turn Portugal from an economically failed state into a flourishing state. We have an educated workforce, insofar as they are technically competent, but where is the innovation, the drive and initiative, the creativity and flair and imagination? the personal responsibility? Having a job is not about sitting at your desk waiting to be told what to do.

    Portugal is an outstanding country with stunning natural resources, but its people seem to be incapable of doing anything with it, other than cover it in shopping centres.

    Protesters purport to be against the system, but they are in fact very much for the system, they want to strengthen it and prolong it, they just want to be inside it, safe and protected. Can’t they see that it is a failed system? Portugal has failed and we must start doing something different, now.

    • Mattus

      Hi John,

      you have raised important points. I too, don’t think anyone should feel entitled to a certain standard of living. The unfortunate part is that many Portuguese youth are unable to make a living to pay for the basic necessities, and are therefore forced to live with their parents or work 2 or 3 jobs to make ends meet. There have been important points raised regarding this issue, such as the existing laws that prevent companies from terminating their employees regardless of productivity. And yet, there are a number of issues that need to be addressed that go beyond the scope of the worker’s responsibility. For example, there are many companies in Portugal that are paying their workers in installments, not their full wage, in fact there are companies who don’t pay their workers at all.

      Another issue that needs to be addressed is the difference in wage earnings in the country based on region, for example, in Portugal’s North, the supposed industrial nexus of the nation, people earn on average, less than elsewhere in the country? For example, in the Azores which has been, traditionally, a place of high unemployment and emigration, people there earn more on average than Northern Portuguese? The difference being that the Azores is politically autonomous. These issues of low wages cannot be explained as simply a lack of industriousness on behalf of the Portuguese.

      Some people state that it has much to do with traditional industries, such as the shoe and garment industry that has yet to fully modernize. The problem is that it doesn’t answer the question of investment funds, like João said, which are being funneled into the Lisbon region where the income there is above the EU average.

      Other issues need to be assessed, for example, why has Ireland been able to increase their standard of living dramatically, by attracting foreign investment (pre-recession), while Portugal has wallowed in the mire? We cannot just blame the worker for these issues, it is much larger than that and has it’s inception in a poorly executed public administration and corporate irresponsibility, such as the massive investments at the Euro 98 which included the building of a massive bridge and buildings that have added to the debt crisis today, and serve little in terms of adding to the industrial output of the nation.

      Although I believe that much can be done at the grass-roots level, through the direct will of the Portuguese, there is a limit. Public institutions need to be properly managed and this can only happen with proper planning, which incorporates the reduction of corporate and political corruption. That means that wages of Portugal’s public company executives need to reassessed, some of these ladies and gentleman earn more than the Chancellor of Germany. There is much that needs to be done, and it starts with a government that is responsible and just.

      Portugal and the Portuguese need to understand that if they fail to foster a more just and productive society, that they will lose another 10 years. Eventually, Portugal may lose its autonomy altogether if the EU is able to implement universal laws that will further reduce the Portuguese control over their own destiny, the sad part, for many Portuguese this may actually be a good thing.

    • João Fardilha

      John, you’re right, a good job is not, and cannot be a given right. And portuguese young people have no more right to a decent job than anyone else in the world. You’re absolutely right on that too.

      Where I really can’t agree with you, is that you paint the youngsters as short visioned, for wanting to live above their possibilities like their fathers did.
      I don’t know who you know that claims that, but from my group of friends I can tell you that around 3/4 work. They just don’t have “jobs” at least in the sense of knowing if our job is going to be there next month.

      I do not wish to receive 2000 euros/month by definition. What I wish is that NO ONE earns that ammount of money by definition, only by merit. What I want is to work in a country where your work defines what you earn, not your age, not your political afilliation, not what region you live in.
      What I want is not to have people who are paid to represent me who have no clue of what I’ve been through because they never had a job, those are the lazy ones, not the ones who want a job.
      What I don’t want is to have a new generation earning 500euros/month while there are people receiving 4 and 5 retirement pensions.

      That is what I am against. And I can assure you that the people I know who manifestated were also against that. We were asking for respect.

      Is not only a question of money, is a question of having an whole generation being sacrificed for nothing.
      If you could tell me “but you’ve to do sacrifices so you and your children can live better in the future” I would understand, but telling me “you’ve to make sacrifices to mantain the rights of some people but you’ll never be able to achieve those same rights”, then I’m deeply sorry, but I’m going to be really rude with you.

      This is what is being asked of us (and not only the youth, but everyone who works):
      “work more… for less… pay your taxes… pay more taxes… stay in your parents home since you can’t afford to rent one and keep eating everyday, altough you have a job… oh and by the way, shut up, because us with privileges are tired of that leftist talking about more rights and stuff… That is absurd, haven’t you heard? there’s a crysis out there, now go work some more so you can pay my 2nd mortgage or my new BMW.”

      I’m sorry, but in my point of view if I owe the older generation something, is the crysis we’re in now. I wasn’t here in 74 to fight for my future, they were. I wasn’t here when the corruption on the political and judicial system restarted, they were. So I’m sorry if I’m feeling offended for them not doing their part on cutting their privileges first, and then ask something from me, maybe that is disrespectful, but eh, I’m from Porto, I’m disrespectful by definiton, right?

  • Francisco

    Thanks Ana for giving us the opportunity to understand what is going on in Portugal. Although I’ve been living most of the time outside, I go back to Portugal regularly and I am the father of 3 young ones that live there.

    In spite of the fact that the first reading would be that the protesters just want to have a safer job and a regular income, what in itself is quite understandable, I tend to think that what gathered them in so big numbers was the feeling that the present government and those parties that have been in power for the last decade have completely failed and don’t deserve any more to be trusted.

    Sooner or later, a majority of them will come to the conclusion that it’s the system the real problem and that it will be up to them to open new windows and to propose new ways and solutions.
    What happened last Saturday in Portugal it’s a good start and I’m very happy to see those thousands puting in question the old powers and the old politicians. I hope that they won’t stop there and go on asking all the “why’s”, till they feel able to give themselves and to the others the “how’s” that are needed.

  • […] mas talvez o melhor artigo que vi sobre todo o assunto (metade em inglês, metade em […]

  • I

    I’m reading the ideas, stories, hopes above and I’m sad. I came from Hungary from the other end of Europe and I see the similar problems as at home as in so many countries in the world. Countries coming from anti-democratic past were full with hope that if the system is changing the things will be automatically better and all of bad things will be gone. These countries weren’t prepared for this new world. They elected their parliaments gave the power to their new parties supposed that these will work for their better life with more rights and healthier economy.
    But only the rulers changed not the rules. Democracy is not equals with the philosopher’s stone. The new guys in the power created the new laws for their interests. The parties shaken hands behind the curtains and the people found that they are needed for the elections only in every 4 years. They always believed in the new promises and once they found that the liars won the power for the next 4 years they promised that at the next time they will choose another one. Years are gone and now there aren’t new parties and guys to elect but the economy in ruins and nobody see the way out. All the laws are for the power of parties and prior the next elections they are dropping the usual chunks in front of people who graceful for it and try to make a wise decision and elect the new rulers from the same package.
    Why I wrote these words? Because I hope that Portugal people can find the way out from this tread wheel and without wasting blood on a revolution will able to show for the rest of the world that there is a way out.
    Otherwise the situation will be the same there as well as in the revolutionary Arabic countries that after the old rulers are sent out from the power nobody will know how it is possible to build a better new country. There are always enough smart politicians who are able to get the power and slowly but safely build a new system for their own interests and create laws which are saving only them against the majority of the people.
    Is there a way out from this wheel? I don’t know. But I want to hope it.
    I wish the best for Portugal for not only change the rulers but find the way for a better way of life for all of them. Be careful and don’t lose the original goal during the run for changes and don’t believe in sweet new promises without serious evidences about their reality.

    • Mattus

      Hi there,

      your comments are very poignant and indicate that there was a lack of vision among the EU hierarchy in establishing the EU states. Without doubt, countries that came out of totalitarian systems, like Portugal, Hungary, Romania and others have had more challenges than those who did not. João, one of the posters here mentioned that in Portugal, a caste of career politicians rule, meaning that they are in it for the money and prestige and not so much for the betterment of society in general. This is difficult matter to address because it generally means that any new politician regardless of ambition will eventually sway into the camp of the existing ‘professional politicians’, generating a cycle of apathy and distrust in the electorate.

      I think that this is where the EU could have stepped in and demanded more adherence to a unified policy, in fact, I think that this is where the EU is leaning towards at this time. Unfortunately, it should have been mandated from the start not the middle, when the power players like Germany and France can basically impose their will on the entire Euro area, after the fact. That translates into less autonomy over ones local interests, and the eventual amalgamation and homogenization of smaller nations, this is not always a good thing, especially since larger countries will always be able to impose their will.

      If I’m sounding a bit too cynical it’s primarily due to the lack of transparency in the way the EU has been tackling the debt crisis, forcing the onus onto nations who, because they have a common currency are unable to depreciate their own currency in order to pay off debt. I’m not suggesting that lowering the value of ones currency is the right policy, but it was the best option available prior to the single currency, and therefore, the best contingency plan. The EU effectively removed this option, but has stalled on presenting new options, suggesting a implication in bankrupting indebted nations. As many people are concluding that the intention is to buy off public companies at cut-rate prices from indebted nations.

      The reason I’m mentioning the EU as being implicated in this mess is that much of what is happening in countries like Portugal, in terms of austerity is not solely the fault of their own politicians, but if the politician is a marionette like a Socrates or a Barosso, then the nation will ultimately pay double.

      That is why, as much as I hate to say it, Portugal needs to develop a new consciousness, a paradigm shift of self-awareness (Last Saturday’s Protest was a good start). If it wants to be part of a Northern-European world, it will unfortunately need to play by their rules, which translates into a different way of doing things. This can only happen with a vigilant population who are willing to do the hard things, relentlessly. I’m not suggesting that this is a good thing, but that it is a necessary thing.

  • Mattus

    Hi João,

    Portugal would certainly be in trouble if I were PM ;-). I realize that the issue is much more complicated than a few simple fixes, but in order to instill trust both inside and outside of the country, those suggestions would be a great start. As we say here in North America ‘Image Is Everything’, and I do believe that there is an image problem for Portugal at this moment in time. Certainly there are more things that Portugal can do such as following strict adherence to budgets, and reducing ownership of State Owned corporations, reduction in corruption, increasing productivity and eventually wages etc, but in my opinion these are long term goals that cannot be resolved by the stroke of a pen. Managing the obvious first is the best plan, in my opinion. Once again, image is everything, and when its leaders start handing out grants to countries like Cape Verde during this crisis, the message to both Portuguese and the International community is of a country that isn’t properly governed, or just doesn’t care.

    Perhaps I’m misunderstanding what you mean by shadow government. Here in North America, Shadow governments are Clandestine organizations that rule outside of the constitutions of the nation, and are not answerable to the people. They often deal in illegal activities that are often not to the benefit of its citizens. I think that you are referring to something a little different?

    You mention that the UK has a shadow government in place, but I’m not sure how well that has worked out for them. What I do know is that the UK’s debt/deficit crisis is within the same realm as Portugals. Adding that the UK’s GDP is growing a paltry 1.7 percent this year, it isn’t exactly doing wonders. When you include the high cost of living in the UK, corruption within its banking institutions, and the surveillance society that it is, i’m not sure that they are doing things the right way.

    You mentioned that now that Socrates is on his way out there is a ‘hope’ for change. The problem is that Passos Coelho is already mentioning that VAT will increase under his tenure, in fact, I believe he’ll end up doing the same things that Socrates is doing, only problem is that he’ll be doing it with an worsening international image for the Portugal. The end result is the IMF which means more austerity programs, which means that the Portuguese will continue to suffer regardless.

    Will Passos Coelho do any better or will he continue to do what others have done before him? I think that given his recent comments on the increase in VAT, that has been speaking duplicitously, and he’ll continue with more austerity programs, both blaming the Socrates while telling the Portuguese that he had no choice but to follow down the path of austerity.

    I agree with you when you say that you need technicians in power and not professional politicians. It all comes down to a paradigm shift in the way things are done and tolerated, the youth of Portugal need to take a more active role in politics but until this happens you can expect the same old from the professional politicians that have mismanaged Portugal.

    • João Fardilha

      Well I’ll try to address each of your subjects:
      I believe a regime agreement is a good solution right now. A regime agreement between the two or three or better yet the five bigger parties in Portugal for what we actually want in the next 15 to 20 years, starting with a completely new judicial system, and financial control.

      As to austerity measures, as I said once before, I don’t mind paying more taxes to save the country, as long as everyone else does the same. And honestly, VAT increasing is, in my opinion, way more fair than cutting salaries and pension checks. It’s way different people not being able to spend as much than people not having what to spend.

      That said, I don’t know if that VAT announcement is actually true, it was revealed by a not that recognized tabloid, and after the events of yesterday it’s a great soundbyte for the socialist party members to use. I’d like to see PSD’s program before bashing it at least.

      I also find very amusing (because if one doesn’t laugh about it then he gets totally depressed) how the situation has been judged by most people. The social democrats are, right now the monsters that opened the door to the IMF, and that are doing everything against poor Socrates (it’s what I’ve been hearing and reading since last night). The thing is that apparently only half the news is being reported.
      So let me update you to the other side of the tale:
      On Monday our statistics center, as well as the european bank published their numbers about 2010’s deficit, which are 1,2% above the one what the government announced (it’s not the first time it happens unfortunately).
      On Tuesday the PEC (growth and stability program) was presented to the opposition, and the importance of it was debated, Sócrates announced that if the plan wasn’t approved that he would retire.
      On Wednesday I took 3 hours of my time to read part of the PEC. Don’t get me started. The government wants to cut pensions right? But it still wants to build a bullet train to spain. And you can say, well but a good line might make the portuguese ports more competitive for the transportation companies. Yes, I can accept that, but the proposal that would cost more than 1,2 american billion euros, only refers passenger transportation. Yey for our industry, right? (oh by the way the cost of the ticket is basically the same for a plane for the Lisbon Madrid trip, 10 euros less overall).
      But wait, that’s not all, the amount that would be saved with the cut of the pensions is exactly the same that’s going to renew contracts with Mota Engil (one of the private companies in Portugal with the biggest amount of ex-state people) and with BES. None of the projects was subject to a public competition to decide who gets the contract.
      I could go on and on, but hey, the plan exists in english, since it is the one that was presented last week to Merkel, if you are up for a mixture of good comedy and boring political talk, it might fit that niche.

      And you might ask me “why would the socialists present such a plan” and I can answer you, I spent a few days thinking exactly the same solution, and yesterday while Sócrates was announcing is retiring from office it made clear sense. It’s a political trap, and the social democrats felt like beginners. You might think this is a conspiracy theory, but follow my reasoning for a little bit.
      Sócrates couldn’t help avoiding IMF of getting in, he was delaying it, but eventually they would have to come, maybe because of our spending, maybe because of speculation, whatever the reason was we are paying too much to get money for the situation to be stable. That was evident to me and to most of my friends, but apparently not for everyone.
      Plus we already had the IMF in Portugal, back in 83, and it wasn’t as bad as everyone says it is. Even speaking to my Irish friends they don’t paint it like the monster like the socialists here tell us. I’m not saying it is going to be all roses if they come, but I see them cutting public spending too, something that we have not done since the taxes started rising.
      So, let’s bare in mind Sócrates couldn’t avoid IMF or some other source of international help, what possible solutions does he have to stay in power?
      Not many, if he stayed then his government would be blamed for the unpopular measures, if he step down from office by himself he would be forced to step down as the socialist party chief, and obviously, since the number 2 of the socialists right now is not from his political spectrum. So he made the cleverest thing he could do, he put the social democrats in check, he disrespected the national assembly and the President by announcing an unilateral agreement with Merkel, then came back and put his “let’s negotiate now” face and presented a plan that no other party could approve, plus he gives no time for the other parties to present alternatives to the plan, so right now he has (as we say in portuguese) both the knife and the cheese in his hand.
      The parties vote against his proposal, he steps down by victimizing himself. The president has two options, invites him and Passos Coelho to form a government, or plans elections, the first one won’t function because Sócrates didn’t negotiate ONE single measure presented by other parties since his government started 6 years ago, so elections will be scheduled right?
      Amazing, Sócrates is a campaign beast, a damn good speaker (even if he lies, I’ve to give him that much), charismatic, and amazing on his “attack game”, plus against Passos Coelho who seems a bit complacent and calm… On a debate I’m seeing Passos Coelho’s head being cut.
      Even more, his attack plan is amazing “I didn’t rule because the opposition didn’t let me” “They said no to my proposal but couldn’t present anything” “our european partners liked my measures but the opposition didn’t let me apply them” “the markets are punishing us for the political crisis the other parties created”.
      It has everything to be a bloodbath, if the people fall for it. He’s in position to win with majority in the parliament. And honestly if he does, I’ve to congratulate him, it’s the best strategy possible. I just would like him to use all that strategy to cut public spending first.

      Finally a shadow government, at least in my perception of it, doesn’t have to be ruling in obscurity, it’s not supposed to be ruling, it is supposed to be ready to substitute the main government if needed, yes. But other than that it doesn’t have any power except presenting possible measures as counter proposals to the measures the actual government presents, and both of them are discussed on the parliament. I believe it too be a really good method, if you fill that shadow government with people trusted and relevant by their civil work, and with no political affiliation, granting their independence through there, but once again, that his only a suggestion, I don’t want to enforce it on anyone, neither do I believe I’m the only one with an idea about this, I’m just presenting it for possible discussion.

      • Mattus

        João Thanks again for your insight into this, I seem to get more relevant answers from you than from most articles I’ve been reading about this subject.

        I had not realized that the bullet train scheme was still active. My thought was that it had been shelved along with other massive public works campaigns. This does create a serious credibility issue.

        Regarding the political chess move that Socrates made in order to expedite his own exodus so that he could remain blameless, is this the current sentiment among Portuguese? I realize it is very speculative, but it does have merit. I too was wondering why Socrates would put out that ridiculous ultimatum to the other parties, realizing that it was a great possibility they would not support him after he met with Merkel without previously consulting them. If this is his strategy, it is shameless. I haven’t seen any of the online Portuguese journals pick up on this.

        I see now that the ratings agencies have once again reduced Portugal’s credit rating. And to further complicate the situation, ING is supposedly expecting Portuguese bonds to be reduced to junk, what are your feelings about this? I have always felt that the ratings agencies have treated Portugal unfairly, considering the amount of debt in Northern European countries with similar fiscal problems have not been treated half as harsh as they have the Portuguese. It’s a bit of a catch 22, where you can’t have growth without the ratings and you can’t have ratings without the growth. Considering that Portugal’s fiscal problems aren’t similar in scope to Greece or Ireland, and Portugal has not fixed the books like they did in Greece, it seems to me that the Credit Agencies are jumping the gun on reducing Portugal’s credit score, what’s your take on this?

        You state that the IMF isn’t so bad, and you may be right, given the current situation its probably the only solution. That said, this still leaves us with why we’re here discussing this issue in the first place and that is the problem of employment and fair wages in Portugal, especially Portuguese youth. It appears to me that resorting to the IMF will put Portugal back another 5 – 10 years and there is still no real solution being forwarded by any of the other parties. Do you think that the other parties are capable of resolving this issue without resorting severe measures, or will they just do what Merkel tells them?

        I absolutely agree with a revamping the judicial and financial system in Portugal, because it is clearly not serving the interests of the people. But where and who will start the ball rolling on change? Can Portugal hold on for another 5-10 years of low wages and high taxes before its educated youth pack up and leave to other countries?

        Thanks for clarifying what you mean by shadow government, it is a concept that is very unusual here. The implementation and workability of it does seem like it may be difficult to construct, but it may be a possible solution to the current status quo.

        Lastly, and on a separate note, I read today that the PSD and other parties have repealed the performance appraisals of teachers, considering that education is what will eventually lead to a brighter future, having educators who are competent should be a priority. What is your take on it?

        Thanks again for your insight.

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