António Costa’s first reaction was as expected: he devalued the fact and kicked it into the corner. He used irony, in this case a little out of place, but he dismissed the presidential argument by classifying it as “rich”, “innovative”, “creative”. Everything applied to the interpretation made in relation to the possible constitutionality of the violation of the brake law in the three cases. So innovative that it would deserve, therefore, the deep reflection of the Government, preceding the decision to send, or not, the three diplomas promulgated to the Constitutional Court with a request for “successive appreciation”.
So far so good. No hurry, if the President is constitutionalist and saw there a niche of conformity with the Constitution (as indeed other constitutionalists heard in the Renaissance, as Bacelar Gouveia, had also seen) perhaps it would be a good idea not to enter into useless wars that could be lost.
In a second reaction, António Costa, wearing the suit of President of the European Union, again de-dramatized and implied that, I quote from memory, he had more “to do” than invent institutional quarrels and wind up fictional political crises. In other words, he did what was expected: he actually kicked into the corner. Since the diplomas would come into force and the expenditure would be made in the same way, with no possibility of retroactive return, and a maximum budgetary weight of 400 million, why point out a negative coalition, accentuating the government isolation, to top it off in three highly important matters such as the extension of 9 to 12 years of support for parents in telework forced to accompany their children, the increase in the remuneration of health personnel at the forefront in the fight against COVID and the extension of some support measures for self-employed workers (especially micro-managing partners).
In fact, this was the advice given by the President himself in the justification that accompanied the promulgation, where, in point 8, he shows the “concern to avoid aggravating political quarrels, in sensitive moments and matters, which is even more evident in extreme situations of confrontation between Minority government and all other parties with parliamentary seats ”. Marcelo adds in point 10 (…) “the political signal given by the measures in question is visible and the judgment of unconstitutionality of these measures is not justified. What, moreover, seems to be confirmed by the vote of the Government party in diplomas with the same essence in content (…) ”.
Implicitly, the President recognizes that the Government can always ask for successive inspection, but warns that it may not be the best idea. However, and apparently, Costa could not help falling into the trap of arrogance. The mistake of getting into a new war when there is so much that is difficult to discuss. Support for TAP, which is a bottomless drain; the capital increases of the new bank; the question of the moratoriums that demand that Costa pull from the gallons, of President of the European Union. in order to be able to combat collateral damage to the national banking system or the bankruptcy of hundreds of families there. Multiple matters where you can be alone again if you continue to ignore that from now on the negotiation is not only on the left, but on the right, in the center and in Brussels (where a lot has changed but not enough).
1. Costa guarantees that there is no conflict with the president, but will there be?
At a time when the State of Emergency prevails and absolutely fundamental freedoms and guarantees are suspended, not realizing that the “state of necessity” of our economy, more than justifies a flexible reading of the “brake law” is to confuse the accessory with the essential. Is this the first time since 76 that this reading exists? And since that date, how many times have we been in a State of Emergency?
2. The Prime Minister adds that a dangerous precedent is set, allowing the Assembly of the Republic to constantly disfigure the State Budget. Is there a risk?
Marcelo, in the promulgation text itself, does not forget to remember the always “creative” form that the Government has adopted in budget execution. The PR recalls that it is in conformity with the Constitution “the diplomas can be applied to the extent that they respect the limits resulting from the State Budget in force”. João Leão had, moreover, expressly admitted this possibility when he said that the expenditure (expectable although impossible to anticipate with certainty!) Was accommodating, without the need for any amending budget. Perhaps budget allocations can also be used for these types of measures? Or not?
3. Is the risk of opening a political crisis or a palace war this time real?
I have always found fiction, but knowing that Marcelo is committed to teaching Costa how to govern in the minority and how to negotiate, I would say yes. It is not with impunity that in a crisis of this dimension, it would occur to someone to govern without permanent compromise. Worse than that, no one is currently interested in that. And, when the economic crisis that is now being played out with the vaccination plan breaks out, the PS’s popularity can quickly plummet. Local authorities are unlikely to be the starting point, but if Moedas surprises Lisbon and Chega goes up, the broth for a huge cracker is created. Remember the swamp? And we were not in a pandemic …
4. With the time it will take the Constitutional Court to decide and as the decision will not have an impact on what, in the meantime, has to be paid, what is the purpose of monitoring these diplomas?
For future doctrine, but the deficit will not be triggered here. Costa like Marcelo prepare the ground, there are more budgets to approve.
5. If the diplomas are even declared unconstitutional, how is Marcelo’s position, who, in addition to being Constitutionalist, is by definition the first guardian of the text that he swore to “comply and enforce”?
In the same. He did what his conscience told him. He put the “right to the service of politics” as he always defended. He joined the People. He did not hinder Governance and as he says, it will simply be “Democracy at Work”.
Marcelo is never predictable. But he is already in his 70s and, in terms of creativity, he takes the palm to Costa. Hellas!
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