ER Editor: Portugal’s veteran socialist PM, who seems as hardened and unscrupulous a politician as there is, is out along with other associates pending a corruption investigation. This, as the article indicates below, quashes his chances for a top job with the EU. Not insignificant, we believe. We reported on this earlier this week. See —
However, this article caught our eye primarily for the way people for the top EU jobs are SELECTED, and what they are selected FOR, i.e. membership of a SOCIALIST party. Top European jobs are primarily given to socialists. Which put us in mind of this recent article by Raymond Ibrahim about how Marxism serves the Cabal —
Costa was the socialists’ pick to succeed Charles Michel as European Council president from November 2024, when the Belgian’s time in the role ends (and the rules say he cannot serve another term). The socialists — who are on course to once again be the second-largest group after the European election — have their sights set on the Council presidency after having one of their ranks fill the post of EU top diplomat, first with Italy’s Federica Mogherini and then Spain’s Josep Borrell.
But that plan fell apart this week when Costa submitted his resignation after police raided his official residence. The country’s attorney general confirmed that Costa was being investigated under a corruption probe.
Although Costa has resigned, he’ll be sticking around for the time being in a caretaker prime minister role until new Portuguese elections are held in March of next year.
Costa has not been found guilty of anything and he could still end up claiming a job in Brussels. It wouldn’t be the first time that a top EU official had been appointed after being involved in a scandal.
In July 2014, Jean-Claude Juncker was elected European Commission president a year after he tendered his resignation as Luxembourg’s prime minister in a scandal involving the nation’s secret services, which were alleged to have indulged in misconduct on his watch. His successor as Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, was engulfed in a scandal when she was German defense minister, with allegations that lucrative contracts from her ministry were awarded to outside consultants without proper oversight.
But the Portuguese legal system is notoriously slow — the corruption case launched against Costa’s socialist predecessor, José Sócrates, in 2014 is still ongoing — and few expect any kind of clarity on Costa’s situation within a year.
The Qatargate scandal may also have raised the bar of public opinion when it comes to tolerance of European politicians linked to corruption cases. (ER: And whatever happened to that?)
“If he [Costa] thinks that he cannot be prime minister while this is ongoing, then obviously he cannot be European Council president while it is ongoing,” said Green MEP Daniel Freund. The German lawmaker said the job of European Council president is a “way more powerful” role, so “that office needs to be protected even more from any reputational risk.”
Call Pedro Sánchez! No, wait …
The most obvious alternative to Costa was Spain’s Pedro Sánchez, who was rumored to be a top contender for the NATO secretary-general post last June, when he seemed destined to be voted out in Spain.
Improbably, Sánchez emerged from the summer’s election with a narrow path to remain in office, and on Thursday he secured the crucial support he needed to stay in power as Spain’s prime minister from the Catalan separatist Junts party.
The 15 weeks of tortuous horse-trading with other leftist parties — and, critically, an offer of an amnesty to Catalan separatist plotters — that Sánchez has gone through is a likely preview of the challenges he’ll face during the next term.
His minority government will need the support of a vast array of regional and separatist parties with wildly different philosophies in order to pass legislation.
“It’s going to be very difficult for that government to pass any laws,” said political scientist Pablo Simón. “The political dynamics are going to be extremely complex.”
With a fractious coalition, and facing constant attack from a right-wing opposition that openly questions his legitimacy to govern, Sánchez might be tempted by a more comfortable, high-profile post in Brussels.
“Right now Spain is in a good position internationally: After Germany, Spain is the most important EU country in which a socialist is in power,” said Simón. “With Costa out of the game, who’s to say what Sánchez’s future could hold?”
Sánchez’s exit would undoubtedly throw Spain’s left wing into chaos, as there is no clear successor. But given that the opportunity for productive governance seems slim, he might not dwell too much on the mess he’d leave behind.
Other names of current or former socialist prime ministers are less obvious contenders for top jobs in Brussels.
Former Finnish leader Sanna Marin, one of the most well-known socialist faces, has faced criticism after joining the Tony Blair Institute as a strategic counselor (she has also signed with an entertainment and talent management company).
Eddy Wax and Jakob Hanke Vela contributed reporting.
This story has been updated.
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