Monday, February 21, 2005

The voters’ revenge

In December last we wrote of the political turmoil in Portugal following the desertion of the prime minister José Manuel Durao Barroso to a more lucrative job in Brussels.

Having bequeathed his former job to his deputy, Pedro Santana Lopes, all kinds of mayhem ensured from his incompetence, with president Jorge Sampaio having to dissolve the government and call a general election.

Now, the voters have extracted their revenge. They have comprehensively trashed Barroso's right-of-centre Social Democratic Party, electing the opposition Socialists.

The new leader, Jose Socrates, has an absolute majority in parliament, with 119 of the 230 seats, giving the Socialists their biggest-ever electoral victory since a revolution overthrew a rightist dictatorship in 1974.

Although it is Lopes who has been consigned to history, there can be no doubt that the electors have also cast a vote of no confidence in Barroso. He cannot now count on any political support in his own country and will be the weaker for it.

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