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Friday Briefing: Same, same, but different

Good morning and welcome to PORTUGAL DECODED. Ahead of the leading candidates' debate on Monday night, we ask an inconvenient question: are they really that different?


1.5 million viewers watched Pedro Nuno Santos (PS) clash with André Ventura (CH) in a fierce pre-election TV debate on Wednesday night - the most watched so far (More).

TAP entered the elections with a bang: former CEO Christine Ourmières-Widener accused Finance Minister Fernando Medina of blackmailing and of sacking her for political reasons (More).


The documents on digital wallet app (including, the driving license and ID cards) now have the same legal value as their physical versions (More).

On Valentine’s Day, the National Republican Guard (GNR) revealed that dating violence crimes increased in 2023 (1,497 up 76 from 2022) (More).


French aerospace giant Airbus will step up production in its Santo Tirso plant, forecasting that Portugal will account for a quarter of its output by 2026 (More).

The inflation rate rose to 2.3% in January, 0.9 percentage points above December, driven by electricity prices and the end of zero tax on essential food items (More).


Descent from the Cross”, a 19th century masterpiece by Domingos Sequeira, turned up for sale at a Madrid gallery for €1.2 million igniting fury among historians and art experts (More).

Diogo Ribeiro became the first Portuguese swimmer to win a world title after claiming the gold medal in the men’s 50m butterfly at the Doha 2024 World Aquatics Championships (More).



The right-wing AD promises a “safe change”; the Socialists promise “more action” But besides the slogans, the leading contenders to the March 10 elections share much common ground: wages, pensions, debt reduction, defence and foreign policy. So what really sets them apart?


The AD proposes a so-called “fiscal shock” (worth €5000 million) that reduces personal income tax (IRS) and, above all, corporate income tax (IRC). The PS also proposes some tax cuts, especially for the young, but is more prudent with an eye on a more generous social welfare program.


Both parties agree on the need to modernise the economy and grow exports, but they disagree on the strategy. The PSD believes that its fiscal shock will boost the Portuguese economy by 3.5 % by 2028, with the average wage reaching €1,750. The PS is much more interventionist and wants the state to invest in key sectors, forecasting a sustained growth of 2% per year until 2028.


The PS’s program centres almost exclusively on strengthening the SNS, encouraging the full and exclusive dedication of doctors and even considering establishing a minimum period of dedication following speciality training. The PSD wants to increase the outsourcing to the private and social sectors, promising to review the role and competences of the recently created NHS CEO.


The PS wants to help families struggling with high rents and mortgages, by taking over the loan and signing them up to a lifetime lease, with a rent compatible with their income. The PSD seeks to boost construction with tax cuts on construction or rehabilitation work and a public-private partnership programme for large-scale construction and rehabilitation.


In collaboration with Unique Portugal


Fragile Lisbon by Luís Pavão

© Luís Pavão

Luís Pavão (Lisbon, 1954) has photographed a city in transformation since the late 1970s. Based on an archive methodically built up throughout his career, Fragile Lisbon celebrates Luís Pavão's extensive body of work developed from the late 1970s to the 1990s and 2000s. At Museu de Lisboa - Pimenta Palace, until March 31, 10am - 6pm, 3€ (grants access to the whole venue).

Trees have no legs to walk by Joana Gama

Joana Gama ©Ana Lúcia Figueiredo

From the moment they are sown, trees always remain in the same place. They are not like people, who are born in a country and can travel and we can find very different trees around the world: trees that are real houses, others that move crowds to be admired, others that produce material that reaches the moon… In this concert, pianist Joana Gama introduces children to the wonderful world of trees with the help of a great little instrument: the toy piano. February 17-18, 16h, at Quinta Alegre, free entrance with reservations on


Visit Alvaro Siza’s family house

© Ivo Tavares

Álvaro Siza’s family home allows us to travel back to the architect's youth, having been the home where he spent his adolescence. In 1961 he remodelled the house on behalf of his parents, initiating a harmonious dialogue between the old and the modern that reveals the architect's critical and precocious sensibility. Come and find out more on 24 February at 10.30am. Book your place here.


XI Exhibition of Camellias in Sintra

On February 25-26, the Greenhouse of the Garden of Camellias, a collection started by King Fernando II in the 19th century, hosts the annual Exhibition of Camellias. On Saturday, at 4pm, there will be a guided tour of Quinta de Mira-Mar, or Quinta de Vale Flor. On Sunday 18th, at 11am, there will be a guided tour of the exhibition and the Camellia Garden. Entrance is free of charge for Pena Park ticket holders.

Correntes D’Escrita Literary Festival in Póvoa de Varzim

The Correntes d'Escritas Literary Festival began in 2000 and quickly established itself as the largest national meeting for Portuguese and Spanish-language literature. This year, in its 25th edition, the festival will have around 70 authors, 40 book launches and the 1st Translators' Meeting, as well as teacher training, concerts, performances, exhibitions, tours of parish councils, cinema, and the traditional book fair. From February 17-26, program available here.


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