Corruption allegations: Portugal's PM Costa resigns

Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa has resigned over a corruption probe into alleged irregularities committed by his administration. Costa's chief of staff has been arrested, and Costa himself faces legal proceedings over allegations of bribes being paid for large industrial projects in the renewable energies sector. President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa will decide on Thursday whether new elections will be held. Commentators are appalled.

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Público (PT) /

He resigned out of respect for the republic

António Costa did the right thing, comments Público:

“Even though he is supported by an absolute majority and nothing weighs on his conscience, Costa correctly assessed the precarious situation in which he found himself. Remaining in office would have been a disgrace for him and his office, which would inevitably have undermined the democratic institutions. António Costa is leaving, sacrificing himself out of respect for the Republic, somewhat relieved to be leaving a third term of office in face of the vigour that the country's problems demanded.”

The Economist (GB) /

A dark shadow on a success story

The Economist is saddened by Costa's resignation:

“Under Mr Costa, Portugal had become a European success story. The country's strong economic growth and booming tourism and tech sectors have turned it from a European backwater into a magnet for investors, and it has won praise for progressive health and social-welfare policies. The corruption scandal is likely to cast a shadow on that legacy ... Paulo Otero, a law professor at the University of Lisbon, called it the gravest moment of institutional discredit since the country became a democracy in 1976. ... Whoever succeeds Mr Costa will face the difficult task of restoring public trust in government.”

El País (ES) /

This country works

El País is impressed by the Portuguese institutions:

“Although this is a major political scandal, Costa's attitude is exemplary in that despite enjoying broad parliamentary support he resigned because he was aware of the damage he would do to the country if he remained in office during the trial. ... Equally exemplary is the independence of the Portuguese judiciary, which is going about its work without regard to the rank of the people it investigates. Added to this is the moderating role of the president of the republic, who has summoned all political parties to the Council of State. ... The message to Portuguese citizens is clear: the country's institutions are functioning and they are ready to face this crisis.”

Visão (PT) /

Bad timing for a crisis

Visão sees hard times ahead for Portugal:

“It is very inconvenient to lose an executive when there are two wars raging, one worse than the other, and a state budget is currently under debate in parliamentary committees. The PS's absolute majority will not be repeated, and Costa doesn't want to be either prime minister or party leader. ... Amid this political chaos, everything will change. There are still two years to go until the end of the legislative period, and the government and the prime minister were optimistic about 2024 despite everything. No scenario anticipated the current political and governmental tragedy.”