Portuguese Prime Minister to substitute Romano Prodi as President of European Commission
Two days ago, Portuguese Prime Minister Jose Manuel Durao Barroso declared that he was not contemplating to accept the position as President of the European Commission. However, tonight rumour has it in Lisbon that he will be announced as the successor to Romano Prodi in an extraordinary session in Dublin next Tuesday.
If Jose Barroso is chosen, he will be the compromise candidate, the eminence grise not immediately identified or identifiable, not representing any great source of power (although he pitted his lot with the USA in the act of butchery in Iraq), not antagonizing any of the decision-making centres in the European Union, being from outside the German/French/English axis.
Should the appointment be confirmed, it will leave a chasm in the Portuguese government. As leader of the largest party in the government coalition, the PSD (Social Democrats), Barroso will have to be substituted by one of the deputy leaders, Pedro Santana Lopes, number two in the party and currently mayor of Lisbon, or the highly unpopular Finance Minister, the dry and cynical Manuela Ferreira Leite, possibly the most unpopular political figure in the recent history of Portugal, due to her uncaring demeanor ("There are no reforms without pain") and her insistence on enacting laboratory politics.
Largely responsible for the doubling of the unemployment figure in a society beset by the worst economic crisis in the last two decades, where the average salary is the lowest in Western Europe (610 Euros) and where the food prices are among the highest, Manuela Ferreira Leite would have to stave off mounting criticism for the next two years before the Parliamentary election is due to take place.
Pedro Santana Lopes would be a more popular choice in the country as a whole, due to his charisma, energy and oratorical skills, however, inside his party, he can count on the support of about one third of the members, at most. He is criticized for being too unstable for higher public office and for not having the personal qualities to be a statesman.
Given that the government coalition (Social Democrats and Popular Party, Conservatives) is slipping far behind in the opinion polls, not only due to the stance on Iraq but also due to the inability to solve the economic ills affecting a substantial slice of Portugal's population and a total incapacity to communicate with the people, it would make more sense for
there to be a new election, in which the Socialist Party, the Left Block (BE) and the Communist/Green Party alliance (CDU) would all almost certainly make inroads.
President Jorge Sampaio has to decide between the options presented by the Constitution: appoint the new leader of the PSD, one of the deputy prime Ministers, or to dissolve the Parliament and call for new elections.
Whatever the choice, things could not possibly get worse for Portugal. However, if the people are consulted, they will choose to opt for a swing to the left, to get rid of this crypto-fascist government which has been the ruin and misery of so many Portuguese families, in its pursuit of laboratory politics and fundamentalist monetarist policies.