– Early legislative elections are scheduled to be held on March 10, 2024
Thursday evening the announcement came. The Portuguese Parliament will be dissolved and early elections will be organized.
On Thursday evening, Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa announced the dissolution of Parliament and the government Calling for early legislative elections On March 10, 2024 after Prime Minister António Costa resignsInvolved in a corruption scandal. The conservative head of state announced during a televised speech: “I have chosen to dissolve the Council of the Republic and call for elections on March 10.”
He also thanked President Antonio Costa for his “willingness” to continue leading the government until his successor takes office. After listening for about four hours, the conservative president spoke about the situation in the country to members of the Council of State, an advisory body.
He explained that Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa chose to call for elections, in response to the request of the main opposition parties from the right and left that he received on Wednesday, while members of the Council of State do not seem to support this.
The option of holding elections is also the one that the majority of Portuguese seem to support. Nearly two-thirds are in favor, according to a survey conducted by the Eximig Institute and published on Thursday in the Correio da Manhá daily newspaper.
The decision was applauded on the right
But the head of state did not adhere to the solution advocated by the Socialists, who would have preferred continuity, with the appointment of a new prime minister who would rule with the support of the majority they have enjoyed in Parliament since 2022.
The president explained that this result would not be ideal because the prime minister “will not obtain legitimacy through the popular vote.” If elections are held, the Socialist Party has indicated that it would prefer them to be held in March to give it time to find a successor to Antonio Costa as Secretary-General. Socialist leaders called for a meeting on Thursday evening at the party's headquarters in Lisbon.
The main right-wing opposition party praised the president's decision. “It was inevitable that the Portuguese should be given a voice again” in order to “restore prestige, credibility and confidence in democratic institutions,” Luis Montenegro, head of the Social Democratic Party (PSD), immediately responded.
Approval of the state’s general budget
The decision to call elections within four months will also allow the government to adopt the state budget for next year, the final vote on which is scheduled for November 29. The president stated that this “will ensure basic economic and social stability.”
The Prime Minister caused a surprise by his resignation on Tuesday, after his involvement in a corruption scandal. The case has already led to the indictment of Infrastructure Minister João Galamba and the arrest of his chief of staff, Vitor Escaría, who was sacked on Thursday.
The investigation relates in particular to suspicions of “corruption” and “influence peddling” in granting concessions for lithium extraction and green hydrogen production, according to the prosecution. On suspicion of intervening to “open proceedings” in the context of this case, Antonio Costa will be “the subject of an independent investigation.” The president said: “I hope that time will clarify (…) what happened,” and called for “respecting the presumption of innocence.”
Antonio Costa, one of the rare socialists at the head of a European government, denied any violation of the law. Upon coming to power in 2015, he took advantage of the opportunity to expose the austerity measures implemented by the right in exchange for an international bailout granted in 2011, while continuing to clean up public accounts. After his huge electoral victory on January 30, 2022, which gave him an absolute majority that was supposed to guarantee the stability of his government, António Costa saw his popularity decline due to repeated scandals.