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Friday Briefing: Are you entertained?

Good morning and welcome to PORTUGAL DECODED. With the PS's Pedro Nuno Santos coming on top in Monday's debate, the elections promise to be a nail-biting match to the very end.

Portugal Pavilion at the Osaka World Expo 2025 | © Atelier Kengo Kuma

POLITICS

With two weeks to go, the two main parties remain locked in a dead heat. Surveys show that 50% of the crucial young voters lean right, but the centre-left grew the most among 18-34 year olds in recent months (More).


Tonight, the leaders of all parties with parliamentary seats will face-off for a last TV debate. The debate will be broadcast at 9pm on RTP so don’t be surprised if the streets are empty (More).


SOCIETY

29 surfers were rescued last Saturday from a strong riptide in Carcavelos beach. The National Maritime Authority said that everyone is fine but urged people to watch out for winter currents (More).


Police forces who staged a non-authorized picket outside the venue of Monday’s debate could face charges of civil disobedience. Following the backlash, they postponed a national meeting until after the elections (More).


ECONOMICS

Portugal’s net external debt fell to 53.5% of GDP in 2023, the lowest value since December 2005, thanks to increasing exports and booming tourism (More).


For the first time, in 2023, northern Portugal was the most popular domestic tourism destination, with 6.9 million guests, more 14.9% than 2022 (More).


CULTURE AND SPORTS

Acclaimed Japanese architech Kengo Kuma revealed his design for the Portuguese pavilion at the Osaka Expo 2025. Using strings and recycled nets, it evokes a wave and seeks to promote the sustainable use of the oceans (More).


He’s done it again: a few days after winning the 50-meter butterfly, 19-year-old Diogo Ribeiro made it double gold by claiming the 100 butterfly title at the World Aquatics Championships in Doha (More).


IN FOCUS

HOW PNS “WON” MONDAY’S DEBATE?

It was supposed to be the night that AD’s Luís Montenegro would come out looking as Portugal’s next PM. Instead, he came off as stilted. He ignored questions, pivoted to false accusations and repeated rehearsed replies. Across the stage, Pedro Nuno Santos (PNS), who so far had delivered mostly flat debate performances, had a strong night. Here’s why.


Police protests

Right from the start, when asked about the police protesters outside, Montenegro said that he understood their discontent and wanted to negotiate with them. While also wishing to seat with them, PNS said that he would not do so under coercion, highlighting that the police must also follow the law. With this, he looked more statesmanlike from the get-go.


Post-election scenarios

Montenegro then deflected the second question about whether the AD would veto a minority Socialist Government. To answer the same question, PNS said that the PS wouldn’t lodge or support a no-confidence vote against an AD minority Government. This made clear that the PS stands for stability and democracy since it effectively takes away the possibility of the AD needing far-right CHEGA to form a stable majority.


The new airport

Montenegro then deflected a third question about the need for consensus on the location of the new airport. Again, PNS stood out by giving a straight answer, saying that while he would seek a consensus with the AD, he wouldn’t wait for it because the country needs a decision now.


The average wage

In a poignant moment, PNS quipped that the current Government has already agreed with the social partners to raise average wages to 1,750€ until 2027 - a target that the AD presents in its programme as a major goal…for 2030! This has been fact-checked by an independent source and found to be true.


Pensions

Montenegro accused the Government of cutting €1000 million in the Portuguese pension system - an accusation that the PSD once put on in billboards across the country and that has been debunked by fact-checkers again and again. So PNS simply had to show a photocopy of that factcheck to call out Montenegro’s cheat. Indeed, lies have short legs.


TIPS OF THE WEEK

In collaboration with Unique Portugal

Lisbon

L’USAfonia

To celebrate the US Black History Month, Randi Charno Levine, US Ambassador to Portugal, and Carlos Moedas, Mayor of Lisbon, invite you to L’USAfonia at São Luiz Municipal Theatre, a musical show with the participation of Portuguese-speaking musicians, who interpret themes from the American songbook, from the period between 1965 and 1975, encompassing soul, jazz and R&B. The show takes place on February 27, at 7pm. Free admission, subject to room capacity.


Filminhos à Solta pelo País

This kid-friendly short film exhibit returns to Lisbon this Saturday, February 24. There will be two sessions: one at 11h30 at Biblioteca Orlando Ribeiro in Telheiras and another at 15h00 at the Biblioteca de Alcântara. Each session will feature six animated short films, lasting 55 minutes, for over 4-year-olds. The session ends with o28 an animated film about a vertiginous trip aboard Lisbon’s legendary 28 tram - check out the trailer above. Tickets can be booked in advance for 3€ here.


Porto

Álvaro Siza’s Wing Opening

On February 24, the Álvaro Siza’s wing at Serralves Museum opens to the public with two major exhibitions - one dedicated to the Serralves’ Collection that explores the intense dialogue between Portuguese contemporary art and language (“Improbable Anagrams. Works From the Serralves Collection”) and another exhibition dedicated to the residential work of Álvaro Siza (“C.A.S.A.”). On the inauguration day, visitors will be granted free admission throughout the Foundation and enjoy several special events.


Essência do Vinho 2024

Essência do Vinho | © Fabrice Demoulin

A web summit for wine lovers? Yes, you heard that right. Essência do Vinho is the most important wine event in Portugal, organized once a year at Porto’s magnificent Palácio da Bolsa. Although experts from all over the world come to Essência do Vinho you do not need to be an expert to participate in the event. It is about having enjoying the wine and getting to know the wine culture of Portugal. It takes place this week, February 22-25, and tickets, including for side events, can be bought here.


Elsewhere

For Ever Godard

On February 22, 2024, Medeia Filmes will launch a programme of 11 of the most beautiful films by the French master Jean-Luc Godard (1930-2022). The films will be exhibited at the Nimas cinemas in Lisbon, Teatro Campo Alegre in Porto, Charlot in Setúbal, TAGV in Coimbra, Theatro Circo in Braga and CAE in Figueira da Foz, among others, covering from the great works of the Nouvelle Vague such as À bout de Souffle to 1993’s Hélas pour moi. Tickets and timetables in Lisbon are available here and here in the case of Porto, Coimbra and Braga.


Golden Tuesdays and Wednesdays

Until March 6, NOS Cinemas will host “Golden Tuesdays and Wednesdays” showing all the 2024 Oscar nominated films for just €5. The promotion is only valid for 2D cinemas, but with no daily limit per customer. NOS cinemas will also reward customers who buy the most tickets. Those who guarantee the purchase of four or more tickets to watch the 2024 Oscar nominees will receive a code to pay only half on their next trip to the cinema. The discount can be used until 31 May.

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