The Portuguese executive is in the spotlight following the surprise resignation of Prime Minister António Costa. As a reminder, the latter left his position on November 7, due to his involvement in a corruption investigation that targeted members of his government. The governor of the Bank of Portugal, Mario Centeno, is now the target of criticism. In an interview with Financial Times Posting on Sunday, Mario Centeno claimed he was invited “ By the President and Prime Minister to consider the possibility of leading the government », instead of Antonio Costa.
On Monday, November 13, the Bank of Portugal denied this. ” Governor Mario Centeno confirms that he was not invited by the President of the Republic to head the government She said in a press statement, in response to an official denial from the conservative head of state, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa. This invitation was not addressed to the governor except by the Prime Minister after “ Talks between the Prime Minister and the President », Locator Bank of Portugal.
The opposition calls on the governor to resign
Finally, the head of state refused to replace Antonio Costa, whose Socialist Party wanted to remain in power thanks to the absolute majority it obtained in the January 2022 elections, and decided to call early legislative elections on March 10.
But the governor of the Bank of Portugal, who was finance minister in Antonia Costa’s government between 2015 and 2020, and then president of the Eurogroup from 2018 to 2020, is now facing criticism from the right-wing opposition.
Mario Centeno « She will have to evaluate her integrity “, noted Luis Montenegro, head of the main opposition party, the centre-right Social Democratic Party (PSD), in particular, suggesting that the central bank governor should resign.
“II can’t continue with the Bank of Portugal For his part, Liberal President Rui Rocha stated clearly.
According to local media, the Bank of Portugal’s ethics committee is scheduled to meet on Monday to evaluate Mario Centeno’s situation.
Scandal shakes the government
The political reaction is strong. And for good reason, the scandal affecting the Portuguese government is huge. The case that affected the Portuguese Prime Minister relates, according to the prosecution, to suspicions of “ Embezzlement, positive and negative corruption of political office holders and influence peddling » Regarding the allocation of licenses for lithium exploration and hydrogen production.
“During the investigation” The suspects also mentioned the name and authority of the Prime Minister The Public Prosecutor added in a press statement. “He is suspected of interfering himself.” To cancel the blocking procedures “In the context of this case, Antonio Costa will” Subject of investigation » Always independent, according to the prosecution. But Antonio Costa confirmed during his speech to the press that “ surprised “By opening this investigation.
But this is not the first time for the prime minister. After his huge electoral victory on January 30, 2022, which gave him the absolute majority that was supposed to guarantee the stability of his government, Antonio Costa saw his popularity eroded by repeated scandals. The most notable of these is “TAP Gateway”, named after the public airline that forced more than a dozen ministers and ministers of state to leave their posts over the issue. The scandal was exposed almost a year ago after it was revealed that a severance package of €500,000 had been paid to the TAP director, who was appointed a few months later as Chancellor of the Exchequer.
For the opposition, distrust of the government is normal, and the latter now accuses Mario Centeno of being too close to the existing executive.