Portugal: national celebration without citizens
On Saturday Portugal will celebrate its Freedom Day: after the Carnation Revolution in 1974, which brought António de Oliveira Salazar's dictatorship to an end, April 25th became a national holiday. The Portuguese will have to stay at home this year because of the pandemic, but the country's MPs want to hold an official ceremony with 100 people in the parliament. Is this warranted or totally inappropriate?
A hypocritical ceremony
Commenting in Observador author João Morgado criticises the parliament's decision:
“I was taught that 25 April stood for a time of freedom in the face of a dictatorial regime, and that it was a motive for celebrating the values of freedom and solidarity between all. But that seems to be of little significance to our politicians. ... In the same room where the state of emergency was decided, where the people were denied the right to go to family members' funerals, to open shops to earn their daily bread or to leave their homes to help the elderly, an official ceremony is now considered fundamental - all nicely packed together to recycle the same old speeches. The truth is that they are setting a bad example for the country, one that reeks of hypocrisy.”
Starting signal for the return to normality
Público sees it as legitimate for members of the Assembly of the Republic gather to celebrate the holiday on everyone's behalf:
“Why should this celebration not take place in the heart of the republic, according to the rituals and with the necessary health protection measures in place? That's what representative democracy is all about. The tone of the discussion about the April 25th ceremony shows that democracy has to be learned and reaffirmed time and again. ... What's more, the celebration is to take place about a week before the proposed end of the shutdown. ... Even if only indirectly, the parliamentarians will show us with this ceremony how to deal with our biggest question at the moment: how can we live a life that looks like a return to normality?”