Arms scandal casts shadow on Portuguese elections

So far it seemed that victory for incumbent Prime Minister Antònio Costa in Portugal's parliamentary elections on Sunday was certain. But a scandal from 2017 involving the theft of weapons from a military base in Tancos has caught up with him. The conservative PSD and its leading candidate Rui Rio have now accused the prime minister of knowing of the theft back then. Will this turn the tables in the election campaign?

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Público (PT) /

A political minefield

As the race enters its final phase the election campaign is getting dirty, Público admonishes, criticising above all the leading candidate of the PSD, Rui Rio:

“As the Tanco case escalates the [conservative] PSD is becoming a magnet capable of attracting all voters who are still undecided or suspicious of the [social democratic] PS or even the prime minister himself. But this achievement has its price, because it shows us a leader who is intoxicated by his own success in his campaign and is breaking with the restraint he himself demanded. And because it turns what is left of a civilised campaign into a desperate duel for votes. Tancos has become a political minefield.”

Jornal Económico (PT) /

Something fishy here

Political scientist Raul de Almeida criticises the way the government handled the affair when it first came to light in Jornal Económico:

“Tancos began as an anecdote and ended as a state tragedy. The then defence minister's handling of the problem was utterly irresponsible from the outset, while Costa simply stood by and left the incompetent minister to his own devices. ... There's something fishy about this story. Inevitably, heads rolled and the ruling Partido Socialista waited anxiously for the generous forgetfulness of the public prosecutor's office.”

20 minutos (ES) /

Portuguse miracle must continue

20 minutos fervently hopes the government of three left-wing parties will not be brought down by the scandal but will continue in power:

“Four years ago nobody thought this coalition would survive. ... But the three ruling parties that have so surprisingly managed to revive a destroyed economy and strengthen Portugal's international presence are now hoping to improve their election results - each of them separately, of course. Whether or not there will be a coalition again is uncertain. But given the general perception that they have done a good job it seems quite likely, in particular because Costa's programme is consistent with that of the smaller parties: increased public investment, better wages and more social justice.”