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Friday Briefing: Habemus Prime Minister (for now?)

Good morning and welcome to PORTUGAL DECODED. The President has spoken and the center-right will take office. But the maths are not on their side.



POLITICS

With all the votes counted, President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa has appointed Luís Montenegro, leader of the center-right AD, as Prime Minister of Portugal. The new Government will be sworn in on Tuesday, April 2 (More).
Far-right CHEGA won the 2024 elections among Portuguese voters abroad, winning two additional seats - one in Europe and the other one overseas - while the PS and the AD only elected one MP each (More).

SOCIETY

Porto is among the European cities where cocaine use has grown the most, analyses of wastewater from 88 cities in 23 European Union (EU) countries and Turkey has shown (More).
Roma people are 43 times more likely to be killed by police officers in Portugal than non-Roma people, according to a new study that uses data from the Ministry of Home Affairs (More).

ECONOMICS

Three out of four Portuguese families struggle to make ends meet, revealed the annual Deco Proteste Barometer, which surveyed almost 7,000 respondents between December 2023 and February 2024 (More).
78 searches were carried out on Tuesday as part of a new corruption probe - titled Operation Maestro - targeting projects co-financed by EU funds that involve a TV personality and a leading news anchor (More).

CULTURE AND SPORTS

Herman José, often described as the greatest living entertainer in Portugal, has received the Medal of Cultural Merit in one of António Costa’s last public acts as Prime Minister (More).
Nuno Júdice, known for his work as a poet, essayist and literary critic, has died at the age of 74. A poet of love and time, his writing was clouded by a melancholy that defines everything: “from the face’s emotion to / the mountain of the setting sun” (More).

IN FOCUS

THE TRICKY MATHS FACING THE NEW GOVERNMENT

The Portuguese Parliament has 230 seats so a majority of 116 (50%+1) is needed to approve most legislation (including budgets). In the 2024 legislative elections, no party or coalition came even close to that threshold: the AD won 80 seats, the PS won 78 seats and CHEGA won 50 seats.


So, the new Government’s survival depends on its ability to convince others to support its plans in Parliament. This is set to be a treacherous task. Read on to find out the main options available to Luís Montenegro.


  1. AD + PS In pure mathematical terms, they’re a sure thing: together they form a comfortable majority of 158 seats. The question is: does the PS want it? Leader Pedro Nuno Santos has said that he is willing to approve an amending budget to increase the wages of teachers, police officers, health professionals and bailiffs. He has also said that he is available to participate in the decision on the future location of the airport. But he will not go futher than that, saying that it is “pratically impossible” for the PS to approve the AD’s budget for 2025.

  2. AD + CHEGA Another plausible option: if they joined forces, they would have a majority of 130 seats. But this time the question is whether the AD wants it? During the campaign, Luís Montenegro repeatedly said that he wouldn’t sign an agreement or colaborate with CHEGA if elected. Though interpretations diverge on the exact meaning of Montenegro’s words, most people would see an AD + CHEGA alliance in Parliament as a broken promise. He has kept it so far, but he has also signalled openness to negotiated with “all parties in Parliament.”

  3. AD + PS abstention If the PS abstains, the majority threshold will drop to 76 ([230 - 78]/2), meaning that the AD has enough seats in parliament (80) to approve legislation alone (or eventually with the Liberals also, though that might not make much difference in terms of mathematics). However, as above, the PS may not be willing to go along with this strategy. It will all depend on what the legislation concerns as well as the PS’s judgment of the current political situation.

TIPS OF THE WEEK

Lisbon

Sónar Festival 2024

The music, art and technology festival that started out in Barcelona will return to Lisbon this weekend for a 3rd edition, featuring artists such as Sevdaliza, 2manydjs and Oneohtrix Point Never. Besides the music, Sónar Lisboa will host an installation by ZABRA Studios, directed by João Pedro Fonseca and Carincur, in nearby, wonderful Estufa Fria, as well as lectures, workshops and conferences. Tickets for the festival, divided between daily and evening programmes, range from 45€ to 130€, with VIP options going up to 245€.


Belém Soundcheck

Classical music, jazz, electronica and rock’n’roll. Lisbon’s new music festival “Belém Soundcheck” aims to bring a heterogeneous crowd to the CCB. Taking place on March 21-24, the new Belém Soundcheck festival will host musicians such as Camané, Maria João, and

Patti Smith (who will play a day later at Braga’s Teatro Circo). The CCB’s new Museum of Contemporary Art will also host an "exploratory installation" by Patti Smith and the Soundwalk Collective. But that’s not all: each evening during the festival, the foyer of the Grand Auditorium will turn into adance floor, where some of today’s most renowned DJs and producers will perform. Entrance is free and the venue will include a food and beverage area.


Porto

Walking Tour of Porto’s Traditional Shops

On March 23, Casa da Arquitetura - Portuguese Center for Architecture organizes a tour of Porto’s landmark shops and businesses. Aware of the importance of traditional commerce in preserving the identity of cities, we propose a tour where stories and architecture mix, with the dedicated guidance of Marta Nestor, founder of Porto Paralelo, a project aimed at valorising and reclaiming Porto's historic shops. The walk starts at 10am and last two and half hours. Tickets are 20€ per person (VAT included) and can be booked here.


Easter Egg Hunt

On Saturday March 23, Serralves Park will host the 4th edition of the Egg Hunt, a peddy paper to find the hidden Easter egg while exploring the park's biodiversity. The activity takes place between 10am and 5pm and is free for children under 12, while adults resident in Portugal pay 12€, and non-resident adults in Portugal: 15€. There is a 50% discount for Friends of Serralves, young people up to the age of 18 and over 65s.

Elsewhere

Two Voices, Four Hands

It was, by any standards, a meeting of giants: on December 22, 2023, Fado singers Camané and Ricardo Ribeiro and pianists Mário Laginha and João Paulo Esteves da Silva came together at Lisbon’s Coliseu dos Recreios for a once in a lifetime concert. Four great musicians who have already crossed paths with each other and who each have a unique and well-defined project, that come together now with the aim of offering an artistic proposal that is more than the sum of its parts. A recording of the concert is now fully available at RTP Palco.


Cherry Blossom Festival

Between March 22 and April 7, Fundão Municipality hosts the Cherry Blossom Festival, showcasing one of the most breathtaking landscapes of the Portuguese spring. The festivities will include a train ride through the cherry blossoms, two-hour tuk tuk rides, and it will also be possible to picnic in a cherry blossom orchard or in one of the municipality's picnic parks. Another interesting initiative is the Cherry tree sponsorship program, in which the interested party pays an initial and annual fee and receives two kilos of cherries per year, until her/his cherry tree does not produce fruit.

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