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Friday briefing: Miracles, elections and a music festival

A STAR HAS FALLEN | Sara Tavares, who shot to fame aged 16 after winning a talent show, died this Sunday following a battle with cancer. Her singing skills and natural charisma turned her into an overnight sensation and one of the most prominent Portuguese of Cape Verdean descent. She represented Portugal in the 1994 Eurovision Song Contest with “Chamar a Música,” which became a national classic (here). In the following years, Tavares distinguished herself as a singer, composer, and musician, mixing Portuguese and African influences. She leaves behind a powerful body of work, including Coisas Bunitas, Balancê, Minina di Céu (with DJ Moullinex) and, more recently, Kurtidu. Official channels: Youtube; Spotify; Apple Music.

ECONOMIC MIRACLE | The rating agency Moody's upgraded Portugal's long-term rating two notches to A3 (High grade). Provocatively, some pointed out that it is the first time that Portugal has a higher credit rating than Spain by any agency. Moody's said: “Robust growth and broadly balanced budgets mean that the debt burden will continue to fall at one of the fastest paces among advanced economies”. A view echoed by Nobel Prize Winner Paul Krugman, who said in Lisbon this week that “Portugal is a kind of economic miracle.”

PALACE POLITICS | The relationship between Belém Palace, the official residence of the President, and São Bento Palace, the official residence of the Prime Minister, has officially hit the rocks. On Saturday, the Prime Minister accused the President of lacking “good sense” by calling early elections. Later on Saturday, António Rebelo de Sousa, brother of the President, replied that to lack of “good sense” is to keep people in the Government “when they are already discredited” - a reference to the Prime Minister’s insistence on keeping the Minister of Infrastructures, João Galamba, after he was involved in a scandal around state-owned airline TAP in April (here). Nevertheless, on Sunday night, the President and the Prime Minister put their grievances aside to watch Portugal beat Iceland 2-0 together at Alvalade Stadium in Lisbon in the EURO 2024 qualifiers.

HUMAN TRAFFICKING | 28 people were arrested in a mega-operation by the Judiciary Police (PJ) that dismantled a human trafficking network in the towns of Cuba and Ferreira do Alentejo in Beja district. The network recruited foreign agricultural workers from countries such as Romania, Moldova, Ukraine, India, Senegal, Pakistan and kept them in semi-slavery conditions. At a press conference, the PJ revealed that at least a hundred immigrants were victims of exploitation: "We detected overcrowding problems again. People living in very unhygienic conditions: one bathroom for 20 people.”

FOOTBALL VIOLENCE | For the second time in a month, former FC Porto, Chelsea and Tottenham manager André Villas-Boas’ home in Porto has been vandalised. A car was stolen and a security guard was taken to hospital with severe injuries. The manager has been one of the most critical voices against FC Porto president Pinto da Costa, a post he has held for more than 40 years, and is considering running for the club’s presidency. Earlier this week, fighting broke out at the FC Porto General Assembly, which was set to vote on changes to how the club is run, with an impact on the forthcoming club elections. The meeting was suspended and postponed to 29 November.



In the wake of a investigation into the licensing of a data center, António Costa resigned as Prime Minister of Portugal and announced that he would also not run again for the post. The announcement set in motion a dispute for the leadership of the Socialist Party, which will offer a spot in the run for next Prime Minister at the 10 March 2024 elections.


Last Saturday, the National Commission of the Socialist Party (PS) scheduled primary elections for Secretary-General for 15 and 16 December. Only PS members, who are up to date with membership dues, are allowed to vote in these elections. A party Congress will then take place on 5-7 January.


Nominations for the post of Secretary-General must be supported by 200 party members, present a political motion and be submitted by 30 November. So far, three candidates have come forward:

José Luís Carneiro (52) is currently the Minister of Internal Affairs and one of the most popular members of Government. Previously, he held the posts of Junior Minister for the Portuguese Communities and Mayor of Baião, a municipality in Porto district. He represents the moderate wing of the party, carrying on Costa’s brand of stability, security and fiscal discipline.

Hailing from the party’s left-wing, Pedro Nuno Santos (46) was the leader of the Socialist Youth, the architect of the left coalition that brought the PS to power in 2015, a Junior Minister for Parliamentary Affairs and a Minister of Infrastructure and Housing. Although his popularity was hurt by a scandal around TAP airline that led to his resignation in 2022, his distance from Costa may now turn out to be an asset to him.

Largely unknown to the Portuguese, Daniel Adrião (55) has stood against António Costa in the party’s primaries in 2016, 2018 and 2021. Speaking on Tuesday, he said that both Pedro Nuno Santos and José Luís Carneiro are “heirs” to the still Prime Minister and argued that “we need to cut this out”. He is a journalist, author of two books and, fun fact, lists in his CV an interview with Fidel Castro.


A survey by pollsters Aximage published right after the crisis broke out showed that the Portuguese consider Pedro Nuno Santos to be best placed to succeed Costa as Secretary-General of the PS. Among the 516 adults sampled, 30 per cent believe that Pedro Nuno Santos will be the next leader of the PS, with Finance Minister Fernando Medina coming in second with 19 per cent. At the time, respondents placed José Luís Carneiro third with 9% and PS president, Carlos César, fourth with 6%.

This week, an Intercampus poll tipped Pedro Nuno Santos to win the current Socialist leadership contest and also beat Luís Montenegro, leader of the PSD, to become the next Prime Minister of Portugal. The poll also showed that roughly one third of the electorate has yet to decide who to vote for. The poll of 604 adults was conducted November 14-17, after António Costa’s resignation, using telephone interviews. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 4.0 percentage points.


In collaboration with Unique Portugal

It’s big wave season again. Time to head over to Nazaré to watch daredevil surfers ride waves bigger than buildings. And while you are there make sure to taste the traditional dried fish on sale on the beach, try the panoramic swing, take the Nazaré Lift and eat some of the freshest fish you will ever try. A Celeste is a good place to check out.


25 NOVEMBER | As Portugal prepares to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Carnation Revolution next year, controversy is brewing over the 25 November 1975 Coup: a failed military coup d'état carried out by the Portuguese far left, who hoped to hijack the Portuguese transition to democracy in favor of a communist state. The right sees it as an opportunity to highlight its role in Portugal’s transition to democracy, whereas the left sees it as an attempt to belittle its role in overthrowing the dictatorship. In Lisbon, center-right Mayor, Carlos Moedas, will mark the 48th anniversary of the coup with a ceremony in the Town Hall, a conference and the laying of flowers in honor of the soldiers who died that day. The councilors from the Socialist Party will be absent.

SUPER BOCK EM STOCK | This Friday and Saturday, the Super Bock em Stock festival returns for a two-day music bonanza. The festival takes place in the Avenida da Liberdade area of Lisbon, including at the Casa do Alentejo, São Jorge Cinema, Capitólio and Coliseu dos Recreios. Tickets for the two days cost €55. This year's line-up includes names such as Anna Calvi, Filipe Karlsson, Gilsons, Sam Tompkins, Steam Down, Valete and special guests Will Butler + Sister Squares, among others.

A BUDGET, FOR NOW | The final vote on the 2024 Budget will take place on Wednesday, 29 November, with guaranteed approval by the PS's majority. The Parliament has already approved the bill on first reading on Oct. 31. It’s worth remembering that the President postponed the Parliament’s disbandment in order to allow lawmakers to pass the budget, saying it will enable the State to “meet the expectations of many Portuguese” and deploy EU recovery funds in projects. The budget includes lower income tax rates for the middle class, social benefits focused on the poorest and a 24% jump in public investment to spur slowing economic growth. However, it is likely that the new government that will emerge out of the 10 March 2024 elections will want to approve an amending budget.


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