The Portuguese political life is experiencing times of monothematic totalitarianism, where one theme dominates the political agenda, news space and public opinion: the State Budget (SB).
This is natural, not only because the budget is a key instrument for public governance, but also because the current Portuguese parliamentary scenario (minority socialist Government) transports this debate into the public arena.
Interestingly, the real (political) debate on the Budget was held (or should have been held) last summer, at the time of European elections, as the decisions of our political processes are today more in the Berlaymont than in São Bento (Official Prime-Minister Residence) ou Belém (Official Presidential Residence). Thus, electing the Barroso Commission meant accepting his liberal economic and financial model obsessed with the deficit; and it would have been more significant to discuss State Budget issues at the time where the consequences could still be visible. In this context, the current negotiations between the PS and PSD involve almost just technicalities or details and the struggle for political primacy in the eyes of the public and published opinion.
There is, however, another dimension that is of interest to explore, because it symbolizes the state of Portuguese political culture: the negotiation process of our party system in a minoritarian government scenario. In the case this SB, and because they supported Barroso re-election, the Socialists were left with no other partners besides the parliamentary right; what clearly indicates a Central Block, in my view, quite negative for representing the bottleneck of the main political party forces, subservience to Brussels model and the inability to generate political alternatives to the liberal hegemonic model, first responsible for the crisis and not for its solutions.
Of course we can not withdraw from the negotiating table the issue of the incoming Portuguese presidential elections, and is not coincidental - I believe - that the expected white smoke from the budget meeting would not be announced before Cavaco Silva announcement his candidacy to the Presidency of the Country; and its also evident that the current President shall seek to benefit from the expected Budget agreement, starting his campaign on the idea of institutional stability.
The question is whether, in future, the cultural experience acquired during the current the current negotiation process has taken root in our party system or if these talks were merely the result of very specific political circumstances, passing through the right’s will to keep in the Belém throne his man. If this ‘cultural acquisition’ is not confirmed and enshrined in our political class (as in many European countries), we must think again on changing our electoral system so as to condition the formation of stable parliamentary majorities.
In the end, we all hope that the PSD passes the State Budget, for reasons more connected to Belém than to São Bento. And after the ‘Limiano Budget’, this will be the 'eyes wide shut " Budget...