Marcelo took advantage of a visit to a social institution to respond to the Government, commentators and “fellow lawyers, some of my former students or assistants”, who spent the last few days criticizing him for having promulgated three allegedly unconstitutional diplomas, explaining what the understanding of its powers in relation to the evaluation of laws.
“In order to avoid crises, I decided to use my powers, namely regarding the laws, in order to consider what can weigh in each moment to enact, veto or send them to the TC”, explained the President, assuming that in certain contexts he had as priority “saving the laws” to “avoiding crises and problems”. And he insisted on remembering that António Costa has won with this.
“I already saved a State Budget that had more expenses than revenues and it was easy to kill it”, recalled the President, “I saved it saying that it promulgated it taking into account the revenues”. But Marcelo took more ammunition to answer to the head of the Government, with whom in the last week he entered into an open divergence regarding the three diplomas approved by the oppositions and that reinforced the support to families and companies.
In addition to having found the three laws to have “positive” effects, the President explained that the decision to enact them also focused on the “preventive salvation of the next State Budget”, which will always depend, as the Government is a minority, on support from opposition parties. In other words, Marcelo exhibits his political commitment to dialogue between all parties, with a view to guaranteeing possible stability. And he was unraveling examples to remember that he always did so.
“Another Budget came up with a series of measures that were strictly on the border between what the Government can do and what the Assembly of the Republic can do – he continued – and I could have sent it to the Constitutional Court but I thought: no, that it paralyzes everything “. And the examples did not end there.
The President recalled that “last year, because we understood that we were going through a period of crisis, there were several laws of the Assembly of the Republic that followed government decrees that could potentially increase expenses and reduce revenues – and I say potentially because it would depend on the application made by the Government. – and I saved them, “he insisted. “I could have said ‘I kill them’, but I understood that it was a period of crisis and for that reason I enacted them”.
This was the beginning for Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa to land today: “It was exactly what I did now”, he said, considering that “the crisis in January and February this year was worse than last year” which, he explained, led him to think that being “the measures generally positive”, it should promulgate them. As for constitutional doubts, which António Costa had already warned him to understand that this time they were for real, Marcelo assumes that he understood the opposite, remaining faithful to the flexibility he used in previous cases. If anyone changed, it was the prime minister.
Visibly already speaking to the legal community that, globally, criticized him for enacting laws that almost all say violate the brake law, the President explained his point of view: “I understood that it was possible to save them”, based in an “understanding of its constitutionality, which is: they fit within the general limits of the Budget, depending on what the Government comes to do”.
This is Marcelo’s ‘opinion’ for the judges of the Constitutional Court, who will say of his justice after the Prime Minister sent them the three diplomas in question. But the President warns that he does not change.
“I will continue to do so”, “I was elected to avoid crises”
“I will continue to do so, as long as I understand that it does not violate the Constitution,” said the President, recalling that “there will be in the next five years, with this Government or with another, with this Prime Minister or with another (because meanwhile there are legislative elections), which make several choices of these “.
“There are cases in which another attitude will be justified” and Marcelo anticipates that he will be able to stop laws, as he recalls having already happened, but he also does not do without being flexible in the interpretation of the diplomas whenever “he understands that it is easy to find an interpretation in accordance with the Constitution”. Another message for Costa: for the PR, the power to decide at every moment and in total freedom what to do with a diploma is intact and will not be conditioned by attempts to limit it with more dogmatically legal points of view.
“The President is more than a Professor of Law”, he underlined, insisting that it is up to him “to arbitrate and ponder different values at all times”, of the Government, of Parliament, of the parties, and of the country, and “the Constitution also establishes values of Social Justice “.
It was a kind of lecture for politicians, commentators – “I have been, but I am no longer” – but also for the “always legal colleagues”, whom Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa clearly wanted to justify the positions he has defended in relation to the legislative production of two Governments of António Costa and the opposition in Parliament.
Aware that his understanding of the constitutionality of the three diplomas in question here only has a gore to pass in the Constitutional Court, Marcelo tried to devalue António Costa’s decision to appeal to the TC, recalling that “the Prime Minister said that the diplomas will be in force pending the Court’s response “. That is, the support will be given and will no longer be withdrawn.
Insisting that “there is no crisis” and that avoiding crises will continue to be his number one priority, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa concluded “that two crises are enough for us, the pandemic and the economic and social. And creating another would make no sense” . The atmosphere of cohabitation is that, as it turns out, it has had better days.
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