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In the portuguese regime, parliament and presidential elections are unrelated.
The president is a protocol figure with some powers, but is is the government that rules. The government is formed by the most voted party or coallition, by invitation of the president.

As for the recent election of the president, yes, Cavaco Silva was the only candidate to the right of the spectrum. He was the prime-minister between 84 and 94.

As for being right wing... well, he comes from the more center wing of the PSD. And he sure surprised everyone when, in his inauguration, he chose social cohesion and the fight against exclusion as the the main theme of his speech.

This cohabitation is not completely new, but in reverse, as when he was prime minister the president was the socialist Mário Soares.

These elections were original in the PS votes were divided amongst two candidates: Mário Soares, again, and Manuel Alegre. Soares was the official candidate, so to speak, but Manuel Alegre had more votes. He proved to be a much fresher voice from the left.

The Communist candidate was the charismatic leader of the party. A very down to earth man that generates a lot of empathy among people. Unlike former communist leaders he is a genuine working class hero. Went to the colonial war, worked in a factory and still lives in the same humble house.

So we had 3 candidates from the left and 1 from the right. Some say the bogged process of the PS candidate was a clever manouver from prime minister and socialist leader Socrates in order to erode the influence of the older wing of his party.

by Torres on Mon May 29th, 2006 at 01:33:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So "right wing" in this case, is center/center-left...hmm...doesn't sound bad. How will he be as a President?

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Mon May 29th, 2006 at 01:38:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, unlike his predecessors he is not a "political animal". As a prime minister he was a technocrat, a no-nonsense guy. People so in him the signs of stability and honesty they demanded from rulers, after a series of failed minority governments. He also filled the leadership void left by Sá Caneiro, the charismatic PSD founder, dead in a plane crash.

As a president he has yet to show his mark. He has none of the powers and competences of a prime-minister. The president acts more like a national conscience and a referee. His opponents claimed he lacked the political... agility or savyness, if there is such a word.  That he knows of numbers, but numbers are not the business of the president.

He has a good test now. The parliament passed a series of laws regarding assisted pregnancy, aprooved by all the parties on the left, but a "pro-life" sort of citizens movement gathered 75000 signatures to contest the law, and wish him to veto it, or order a referendum. We'll see how he deals with it.

by Torres on Mon May 29th, 2006 at 02:14:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
75,000?

What is the limit? In Hungary, which has 10 million citizens just like Portugal, but the limit is 100,000 valid signatures for Parliament to consider a vote, and 200,000 for automatic referendum.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Mon May 29th, 2006 at 03:45:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
With 75.000 they can ask for popular consultation. I'm not sure the request has to be attended. But i think it doesn't.
by Torres on Mon May 29th, 2006 at 04:11:12 PM EST
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