Sunday, October 25, 2015

A Very Portuguese Coup

You may have seen the #PortugalCoup hashtag trending on Twitter.  It refers to the decision by the Portuguese President to block a coalition of three left-wing parties from taking power, even though they won an absolute majority of seats at the general election a few weeks ago.  But you'd be forgiven for being slightly confused by this story, because almost every single UK and international media outlet told people that the Left had 'lost' the election.  This, for example, was the BBC's summary on 5th October -

"Portugal's governing centre-right coalition has won the country's general election, which was widely seen as a referendum on four years of austerity. Socialist leader Antonio Costa admitted defeat and congratulated Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho."

Now, unlike Iain "o Rosnar" Gray, I don't speak Portuguese, but it does seem fantastically improbable that Mr Costa "admitted defeat" after an election he hadn't lost, and then set about preparing to take office anyway.  This is an even more extreme example of the problem I identified in the early reporting of the Canadian election a few days ago - the media just won't accept ambiguous election outcomes, and instead insist that there has to be a 'winner' and 'loser', even if the numbers stubbornly refuse to support that interpretation.  Although the centre-right in Portugal had remained the largest single party, the real story was that they had lost their majority, leaving them with the same set of options that Angela Merkel faced after two of the last three German elections - they could go into coalition with the socialists, they could compromise with the socialists on a programme for government, or they could vacate office altogether in favour of a socialist-led coalition. There was no sustainable option for the centre-right to govern alone, and there still isn't.

Now that the media have belatedly accepted the fact that the socialists didn't 'lose' the election, the narrative has suddenly switched to "the EU elite is abolishing democracy in a member state".  I'm not sure that's really justified either, because unlike the disgraceful treatment of Greece, there's no evidence that the EU elite is actually responsible for what's happening.  (They may well approve of it, but that's a different matter.)  This seems to be more a case of the homegrown Portuguese elite casting around for excuses to prevent two radical left parties from becoming junior partners in a coalition government.  The best comparison is not with Greece, but with the preparing of the ground in the UK for the idea that Corbyn would be a threat to national security as Prime Minister, and that it would therefore be legitimate to remove him.

Incidentally, it's not even really the case that Portuguese democracy is being attacked, because unlike the faceless military men who have talked about ousting Corbyn, the Portuguese President is a directly-elected politician who seems to be acting within his constitutional powers.  He's using those powers irresponsibly, and deserves all the opprobrium that's being heaped on him, but the biggest criticism should be of the constitutional framework that has allowed him to do this.  It would make far more sense for the Prime Minister to be directly elected by parliament, as happens at Holyrood (albeit our system could be improved as well).  And I would still rather be Portuguese than British in this context, because the Queen has exactly the same powers as the Portuguese President, without any of the hassle of being elected.  We just rather sweetly assume that those powers can never be abused.  Perhaps we should rethink that assumption before it's too late.

27 comments:

  1. Glasgow Working ClassOctober 25, 2015 at 9:09 PM

    James, at least you recognise there is a European elite. Portugal was a fascist country until 1974 and had been trying to find its own way then they joined the EU!

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    1. OK, so we can add "anti-EU" to the list of things we know about you. Smoke me a Kipper, I'll be back for breakfast.

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    2. Glasgow Working ClassOctober 25, 2015 at 9:39 PM

      Sad reply indeed James enjoy yer kipp tonight.

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    3. UKIP if you want to. The Nat sis are not for Kipping.

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  2. Glasgow Working ClassOctober 25, 2015 at 10:17 PM

    They made sure some people never seen their Kipp.

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  3. Actually the Queen (or her representative) has abused those powers before, not here but in Australia. This was a bit difference as it actually removed a sitting Prime Minister, Gough Whitlam in 1975. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1975_Australian_constitutional_crisis

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    1. Glasgow Working ClassOctober 25, 2015 at 11:33 PM

      The Queen had nothing to do with this do keep up. You could be a holocaust denier.

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    2. The Governor-General of Australia has the same powers as the Queen, and exercises them in her name. There was also a constitutional crisis in Canada in 2008, when the Governor-General agreed to parliament being prorogued, even though everyone knew it was a tactic to prevent the Conservative government being ousted. (The three opposition parties had signed a coalition deal.)

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  4. Glasgow Working ClassOctober 26, 2015 at 12:34 AM

    Thought you were in yer Kipp James. The Queen does not give orders it is the Brit Government and you know this. So do have a Kipp....and enjoy yer kippers. Strange you do not debate jobs and prosperity but just boring polls. But hey ho we are all different.

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    1. Eat your Kipper.

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    2. Yes, strange... for a polling site.

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    3. Glasgow Working ClassOctober 26, 2015 at 11:57 AM

      Yes, Kippers and cereal.

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    4. Eat your cereal.

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  5. Great article James, I knew little about this, as I do not pay the tv tax, instead I keep up with whats happening on RT, Euronews, Aljezeera, for what they are worth. Also many good links from people on WoS, your blog, WGD, LPW, etc.

    Queenie, well what can we say. Her position in politics, ukok, should be questioned. The royals are an abomination given their riches, the land and palaces they occupy, and their level of power. Ok it may be behind the scenes, but they still wield far too much influence, look at her during the Indy Ref, what an absolute disgrace and a blight on old blighty, so called democracy. Aye right.

    The royals and what they stand for, keep the class system going good and strong in this ukok land, know your place, subjects!

    I hope Portugal can reject austerity and not be undermined by outside influences. A poor country, I know little about, but good luck to them.

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    1. Glasgow Working ClassOctober 26, 2015 at 12:00 PM

      We could have a poll ! on royalty followed by a referendum however the Nat sis would not accept the result.

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    2. Who is the Nat? And are we sure he/she has a sister?

      Wait a minute. I get it now. You're referring to your own sister, aren't you! That's why you know she wouldn't accept the result.

      Pretty sure she'd just tell you to eat your cereal, though.

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    3. Glasgow Working ClassOctober 26, 2015 at 8:18 PM

      Baldrick my sides are splitting with your incredible humour .

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    4. Eat your cereal.

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  6. Certain elements attempted a very Anglo-Brit variation when they surrounded Heathrow with tanks and infantry during Harold Wilson's government in the 1970s (Mountbatten to have been the plenipotentiary of the right wing coup d'etatists until plot foiled - see BBC archives?).

    Prince of Wales touted as a potential King of Scotland in his own right shortly thereafter in Jock-Brit MSM (front-pages all round, if I remember correctly: the Daily Redcoat leading the way in full colour @ Kappooww!!! flying "treasonous" kites).

    Thus, nowt new to Anglo-Brit & Jock-Brit coup d'etat instincts beyond fcuking it up compared to Franco, Pinochet, the long dead Portuguese dictator, et all.

    En passant, am sure I spotted "Glasgow Working Class" sporting Francoista emblems on his uniform as he lead the tank maneuver on Heathrow's then perimeter.

    Indeed, wasn't he also on Pinochet's security team when Pinochet was briefly visiting Thatcher in UKania whilst under threat of war crimes trial?

    I seem to remember him pushing the vile old murderer's wheelchair.

    Mmm, maybe wrong.

    Perhaps he was with Mad Mitch in Aden or with special forces "fighting" the Mau Mau in Kenya?

    Or, more likely, at home knitting his umpteenth Butcher's Apron jumper for some Ludge fund-raiser (Orange and not genuinely Masonic as the latter would not entertain this moronic knuckle-dragger on pain of more than ritualistic death).

    What sayeth you, GWC, you petit agent provocateur?

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    1. Glasgow Working ClassOctober 26, 2015 at 8:28 PM

      Harold Wilson was a progressive politician and indeed his protective employment act is now taken for granted. He was given the Order of the Garter so he was hardly a threat to the establishment. So David if you have something to say then say it when it is credible and proven.

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    2. Eat your cereal.

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  7. Erratum due to the sodding spell-checker: "et al".

    As to you, GWC, you seriously need to examine your conscience and intellect.

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    1. Glasgow Working ClassOctober 27, 2015 at 2:00 AM

      David. My intellect was gained on the streets of Glasgow and I have nothing to be ashamed about although my spelling is a bit iffy but that happens as you get old as you can appreciate, maybe. Do not be an old fud as you get old just say it as it is and keep your sense of humour if you have it.

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    2. Eat your cereal.

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  8. Ipsos Mori GB poll: Con 36, Lab 32, Ukip 12, LD 10.

    https://www.ipsos-mori.com/Assets/Docs/oct2015web.pdf

    Scottish sub-sample (n=69): SNP 51, Con 30, Lab 12

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    1. Wondering how much salt to pinch with that subsample. 2 in 3 non-SNP voters are Tories? There's also a strangely high approval rating for Cameron in the Scotland, slightly higher than any other English region apart from the South and only just behind England as a whole: 41% v 42%.

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