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Friday Briefing: Got to be real

Good morning and welcome to PORTUGAL DECODED. On the menu du jour, we have a regional election, angry farmers, economic triumphs and, oh well, another mega police operation.

© Casa das Histórias by Eduardo Souto de Moura

POLITICS

Voters in the Azores will elect a new Assembly and, hopefully, a new Government on Sunday. Latest polls show the Socialists leading with 39%, but the Right taking a majority of seats - a possible prequel to the March 10 national elections (More).


Farmers blocked roads, borders and bridges on Thursday, mimicking protests across Europe. In reply, the Government rolled out a 400 million euro emergency aid package to farmers, including a 55% tax reduction on agricultural fuel (More).


SOCIETY

Portugal dropped one position to rank 34 out of 180 countries in the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) 2023 according to Transparency International. Portugal’s score (61) is below the EU average, but above Spain, Italy and Greece (More).


Over 20.000 officers participated in the “biggest police demonstration ever” in Porto. The security forces demand the same hazard pay that the outgoing Government recently granted to the criminal investigation police (More).


ECONOMICS

The Portuguese economy outperformed its eurozone partners both year-on-year and quarter-on-quarter in 2023, with an annual GDP growth of 2.3%. Forecasts expect growth to slow down to between 0.9% and 1.3% in 2024 (More).


For the first time in 14 years, Portugal’s debt-to-GDP ratio has fallen below 100%. After a traumatizing bailout and recession in the 2010s, this symbolic feat marks Portugal’s return to the EU’s public debt risk average (More).


CULTURE

Portuguese architect Eduardo Souto de Moura has been awarded one of France’s highest honours, the Order of Arts and Letters. The honour recognizes the 2011 Pritzker awardee “remarkable inventiveness and technical genius” (More).


A new art museum, designed by the other Portuguese Pritzker awardee, Álvaro Siza Vieira, has opened at Gramaxo Foundation, Maia. The museum is set in an 8 hectare, 350-year-old quinta that visitors can roam for free (More).


IN FOCUS

WHAT’S WRONG WITH FC PORTO?

What else could it be besides lagging in third-place in the Liga Portugal? Oh yes, FC Porto was the target of a mega police operation this week, in which 12 people, including the leader of its ultras and his wife, were arrested.

What was the operation about?

The District Attorney General’s Office said this operation is part of an investigation into the turbulent General Meeting of FC Porto on 13.11.2023 (Read here what we wrote about it at the time). The charges include physical assault, aggravated coercion, aggravated threats, public incitement to crime, throwing objects or liquids, and attacks on freedom of information.

Anything else?

Indeed. During the operation, the police also seized sports cars, drugs, a firearm, over a 100 tickets for FC Porto matches, and thousands of euros in cash.

Should we be surprised?

Sadly, no. The leader of the ultras has long been connected to violent incidents and organized crime, once even forcing a Turkish Airlines flight to divert to Rome. Despite this (or, some say, because of this), he remains very close to the club’s President, Jorge Nuno Pinto da Costa, who has said he “admires him.”

What is the big picture?

FC Porto’s administration is headed for elections on April 18 and for the first time, in more than 40 years, there’s a serious challenger to Pinto da Costa’s rein: André Villas-Boas, a former Chelsea and Tottenham manager. On his campaign launch, Villas-Boas guaranteed that he would put an end to the “existing status quo where fear reigns”. So, yes, it is realpolitik all the way.


TIPS OF THE WEEK

In collaboration with Unique Portugal

Lisbon

Kulturfest at Goethe-Institut and São Jorge cinema

In 2024, the Goethe-Institut presents the first edition of KULTURfest - Festival of German-Speaking Cultures, which showcases the best of language, cinema, literature and music from four countries. The festival takes place from January 31 to February at the Goethe-Institut in Lisbon and in other venues around the city. The full programme can be consulted here.


Twelfth Night: Celebratory Version at Museu da Marioneta

Twelfth Night: Celebratory Version” is the first show in Portugal performed by two different casts — one entirely male and one entirely female. A premise transformed into a choice offered to the audience, allowing them to decide which of the casts they want to see at the time of ticket purchase. Deemed William Shakespeare's most perfect comedy, Twelfth Night promises an unrestrained carnival where romantic love is both a curse and a cure. Tickets 12€ are available here.


Porto

14º Porta Jazz Festival at Teatro Rivoli

On February 2-4, the Teatro Rivoli will once again showcase the activity of Porta-Jazz, a prolific association of shows, records and international partnerships. This edition brings together more than 100 musicians from Argentina, Austria, Cuba, Slovenia, Italy, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and, of course, Portugal. A concert for families, “Fun/Improvisation”, will take place at 11.30am on February 4. The full programme can be consulted here.


Elsewhere

Numb by Teatro do Mar in Sines

The Sines-based company Teatro do Mar premieres its new creation, “NUMB,” on February 2-3 at 9:30 PM. Created, directed, and written by Julieta Aurora Santos, it’s a multimedia and multidisciplinary street performance, based on a large-scale scenic structure that utilizes video mapping. The performance confronts us with widespread numbness, seen as a kind of mental trap without past or future. Reservations via email at reservas@teatrodomar.com or by phone 269 630 511.


The Enchanted Isles at cinemas across the country

© Amália in The Enchanted Isles by Carlos Villardebó

Legendary Amália Rodrigues will be back on the big screen with The Enchanted Isles, a restored version of a 1965 french-portuguese film based on a short story by Herman Melville. It will be screened in Coimbra (at Casa do Cinema until Feb 7), Funchal (Feb 3 at NOS Forum Madeira), Mealhada (Feb 8 at Cine-Teatro Messias), Guimarães (Feb 13 at Centro Cultural Vila Flor), Lisbon (Feb 15-21 at Ideal cinema) and Porto (Feb 24 at Batalha Centro de Cinema, as well as Elvas, Montemor-o-Novo and Santarém. Director Carlos Vilardebó will also be remembered from February 18 until April 30 at the Marvila Library, where the photo exhibition Augusto Cabrita: The Enchanted Look will show images from the movie’s shooting.

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