Ex-PM Santana Lopes elected leader of Alliance party at first congress

By TPN/Lusa, in News · 11-02-2019 10:27:00 · 0 Comments
Ex-PM Santana Lopes elected leader of Alliance party at first congress

Pedro Santana Lopes, a former prime minister of Portugal for the Social Democratic Party (PSD) has been elected president of the newly founded Aliança (Alliance) party at its first congress in Évora.

At the two-day event over the weekend, Santana Lopes promised to provide fresh opposition to Portugal’s minority Socialist government and its far-left allies – what he termed the "Left Front" – and also outlined some policy proposals such as health insurance "for all" Portuguese to replace the current complex mix of public and private healthcare.

The only other figures to stand out at the event were a former minister of foreign affairs, António Martins da Cruz, the new party’s top candidate for the European Parliament elections, Paulo Sande, and a former PSD mayor of Covilhã, Carlos Pinto.

Among the subjects raised by Santana Lopes himself was the performance of Portugal’s president, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, himself a former PSD leader. In his first speech to the congress, Santana Lopes called on Marcelo "not to exaggerate" in his institutional solidarity with the government regarding the current long-running strike by nurses; in his second, he called on the president to intervene in what he called the "siege of Madeira" by the central government, to secure electoral victory for he PSD in the regional elections of 22 September.

One the political combat in this year of elections, the Alliance leader was clear.

"Get ready,” he said. “Where there are struggles, where there are righteous causes, where there is oppression, where there are injustices, we will be there, in the cities and in the fields, in the factories, in hospitals, in schools. And we will be beside those who have physical limitations and are not protected, are not entitled to full inclusion."

In his first speech, on Saturday, Santana Lopes took the chance to settle scores with a former president of Portugal, Jorge Sampaio, who in 2004 decided to dissolve parliament despite the PSD under Santana Lopes enjoying a majority, due to what he identified as a political crisis, so bringing down the government.

If that had not happened, suggested Santana Lopes, the country could today be "very different", for the better – a reference to the fact that the Socialist leader who succeeded him as prime minister, José Sócrates, was in his second term forced to seek a euro-zone bailout because of the country’s huge indebtedness after the financial crisis.

In his second speech, closing the congress on Sunday, Santana Lopes listed specific policy measures such as health insurance for all, and the idea of ending subsidies to public companies that he suggested are wasting taxpayers’ money.

Paulo Sande, meanwhile, the Alliance’ top candidate for the 26 May European elections, said that he was not asking for "the impossible, only the indispensable" and that he wanted to "translate ‘Europese’ into Portuguese ".

The election of the new party’s national governing bodies, which took place on Sunday morning, went smoothly: only list A, headed by Santana Lopes was competing. According to the results, 372 of the 545 enrolled party delegates voted.

Santana Lopes has seven vice-presidents in the party’s National Political Directorate – including Martins da Cruz, Carlos Pinto, and a former secretary of state, Rosario Águas, and the Portuguese lawyer of pop singer Madonna, Ana Pedrosa-Augusto. The party’s executive director is and Luís Cirilo.


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