Portugal in political crisis after PM António Costa resigns

ER Editor: The first thing we did upon seeing this story is look for Portugal’s PM on the World Economic Forum website. And here it is — https://www.weforum.org/people/antonio-costa/

A reminder to readers that many WEF-linked leaders have departed office or are heading that way over the past 1-2 years, some with investigations currently going on:

Sebastian Kurz – Austria; December 2021 (with corruption investigations pending)

Kaya Kalla – Estonia; July, 2022

Jacinda Ardern – New Zealand; January 2023

Sanna Marin – Finland; April 2023

Alain Berset – Switzerland; June 2023

Walter Thurnherr – Switzerland; August 2023

Mark Rutte – Netherlands; July 2023 (others may be following him, Sigrid Kaag for example)

Nicola Sturgeon – Scotland; June 2023 (she was already out of office; is being investigated for several things)

Frans Timmermans – former EU VP / commissioner, climate portfolio; July 2023

And now it’s Portugal’s turn. We’re wondering, as well, whatever happened to those involved in the Qatargate scandal?


Portugal’s government plunged into chaos following Prime Minister António Costa’s unexpected resignation Tuesday, hours after police raided his official residence and confirmed his implication in a corruption probe.

With the country’s leadership now in flux, it falls to President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa to exercise his constitutional right to appoint a new prime minister, or dissolve parliament, sparking an election.

Costa has dominated Portugal’s political landscape since taking power in 2015, defeating external rivals and cannily eliminating potential usurpers within the ranks of his Socialist Party. But on Tuesday, his command of the country came to an abrupt end after the police raided his official residence and several ministries as part of an investigation into corruption surrounding lithium exploration schemes and a green hydrogen mega-project. 

The skill with which the disgraced prime minister managed to get rid of those who could threaten his leadership is now proving to be a problem for Rebelo de Sousa, who accepted Costa’s resignation hours after the raids took place.

The president announced he will ask for advice on the best path forward from leaders of political parties with representation in parliament on Wednesday. The Council of State, an advisory body to the president, will meet on Thursday. Rebelo de Sousa will address the nation afterward.

While many expect him to dissolve parliament, he could take other routes.

Rebelo de Sousa could ask Costa to stay on as caretaker until his proposed 2024 budget is passed at the end of the month and dissolve parliament afterward. Costa also could be asked to stay until a new election is held.

Another option is that the president will name a new prime minister instead of dissolving the parliament. Costa’s Socialist Party controls an absolute majority of the seats in the legislative body and Rebelo de Sousa could opt to choose a successor from within its ranks in order to sidestep the possibility of a major political shift and ensure that the budget is passed on schedule.

Portugal’s constitution gives the president wide scope in choosing a replacement for a prime minister who has resigned. After José Manuel Barroso quit to join the European Commission in 2004, then-president Jorge Sampaio appointed Lisbon mayor and Social Democratic Party Vice President Pedro Santana Lopes — who at the time wasn’t even a member of parliament — to the post.

But few current Socialist Party members are seen as being up to the task in the midst of a far-reaching corruption probe that already has led to the arrest of figures such as the prime minister’s Chief of Staff Vítor Escária, and the indictment of Minister of Infrastructure João Galamba.

That makes it more likely 74-year-old Rebelo de Sousa, a law professor who helped write Portugal’s constitution, will dissolve the parliament and call for new elections — a move that could lead to more chaos.




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