The President of Portugal, Antonio Ramalho Eanes, has accused the country's political parties of having the same faults which led to a right-wing dictatorship in 1926.
The President of Portugal, Antonio Ramalho Eanes, has accused the country's political parties of having the same faults which led to a right-wing dictatorship in 1926. He was speaking at a ceremony marking the 66th Anniversary of the foundation of Portugal's first republic.
SYNOPSIS: Part of the ceremony took place at the Alto Sao Joao Cemetery, which contains the tombs of many of the Republic's founders. One of the first of the official guests to arrive was the Prime Minister, Mario Soares. His Socialist minority government is likely to suffer strong attacks during the forth-coming Parliamentary session. With only 107 of the 263 parliamentary seats, the Government has been unable to do much to ward off a worsening economic crisis.
Municipal elections are due to be held in December, and if the Socialists do badly, the Government could fall. President Owns was the chief guest of honour at the main ceremony at Lisbon's Town Hall, and his arrival was greeted by enthusiastic applause from the crowd.
If the Government does fall after December's municipal elections, doubts will grow about the viability of parliamentary democracy in Portugal.
The right-wing military coup of 1926 followed sixteen years of unstable and ineffective government. In his speech, President Eanes reminded his audience that the political parties of the first republic had been weak, and incapable of extending their scope beyond Lisbon and certain social classes.
He said that many characteristics of the situation then, were a political reality today. Political parties, he said, were essential for the pluralist path the Portuguese people had chosen. But their function was to provide alternatives of programmes and action, and not to set up structures for conquering power. He warned against dangerous divisions and unhealthy regionalism.