segunda-feira, fevereiro 21, 2005

New York Times

Para quem tiver interesse em saber como foram noticiadas as eleições portuguesas na cidade onde me encontro a viver, aqui fica o artigo publicado hoje no New York Times:

Socialist Builds Big Lead in Portugal Election, Voter Surveys Shows

Portuguese voters appeared Sunday to be choosing the Socialist candidate, José Sócrates, to become the country's fourth prime minister in three years.
Surveys of voters after they cast their ballots indicated that the center-left Socialists would win 45 percent of the vote, followed by the 29 percent for the center right Social Democrats, led by the acting prime minister, Pedro Santana Lopes, Radio Television Portugal reported.
The figures suggested that the Socialists stood a strong chance of winning an absolute majority in Parliament, meaning the party could govern alone without having to form alliances with other groups.
An absolute majority, which no party has obtained since 1991, would represent a significant step toward stabilizing Portugal's democracy, which has been plagued by years of volatility, experts say.
Over the past five years, governments have risen and fallen with alarming rapidity, leading many Portuguese to fear that the country is returning to the political instability that marked the nation's first decade of democracy, before it entered the European Union in 1986, said Pedro Magalhães, a political scientist at the Institute of Social Sciences at the University of Lisbon.
The political situation may have reached a low point during the tenure of Mr. Santana Lopes, when ministers contradicted one another regularly, sometimes daily, and one of them resigned four days after starting work.
"The government presented an image of total incoherence and lack of organization," Mr. Magalhães said.
Mr. Santana Lopes lasted only four months before President Jorge Sampaio decided on Nov. 30 to dissolve Parliament and call early elections after a tide of complaints from business leaders, politicians, academics and editorial writers who contended that the government was foundering under increasingly chaotic leadership.
Portugal, with about 10 million people, was one of Europe's brightest success stories in the late 1990's. Its economic growth regularly outpaced the European average, and continuity in the political leadership provided a measure of predictability after years of volatility.
Since then, the economy has suffered a recession, unemployment has risen and the budget deficit has ballooned. Before the European Union expanded last year, Portugal was the poorest member state.
In his campaign to convince voters that he could get Portugal moving forward again, Mr. Sócrates focused more on his leadership qualities than on his policies. In fact, it can be difficult to distinguish his policy positions from those of his predecessor, particularly in international affairs, where the two share a commitment to further integration into the European Union and to strong ties with the United States.
Domestically, the differences are starker, but not much so. The economic platform laid out by Mr. Sócrates differs little from the fiscal conservatism of his opponent, including a proposal to trim the government's huge work force and a declaration that tax cuts are out of the question during a time of economic stagnation and budget deficits.
"The Socialists are very pragmatic," Mr. Magalhães said. "They are likely to govern from the center."