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Government survives 'motion of censure' with grudging left wing support

parliamentPortugalThe motion of censure, "for the failure of the Government in the tragic fires of 2017" tabled by the opposition CDS-PP party, today was voted down in parliament.

Tactical voting from the government’s left wing support group was, never-the-less, grudging with the refusal of left wing parties to praise the conduct of the government displayed before, during or after the summer fires that resulted in over 110 people losing their lives.

The debate lasted for about three and a half hours, with the censure motion’s proponent, Assunção Cristas, coming under heavy fire for opportunism and, when she was agriculture minister in the Pedro Passos Coelho coalition government, her role in encouraging the unfettered planting of eucalyptus trees, a claim she later denied in an interview for Telejornal.  

The current Minister of Agriculture, Capoulas Santos, said the motion of censure "was a mere political stratagem to use in parliament to seek to draw the country's attention to the competition between the PSD and the CDS-PP for the leadership of the Portuguese right wing."

Capoulas Santos said that the CDS-PP, after the October 1st local elections, "having obtained only 2.6% of the vote, was not deterred from claiming victory and even assuming itself as an alternative to the Government," with the censure motion making the party look larger and more important than it is.

In his address, Capoulas Santos pointed out the "successive appeals" made by the President of the Republic, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, for a broad national consensus on forest reform and fire prevention and control management. Saying that the socialist executive wants to reach a consensus, he added that "long before we imagined the tragedy like Pedrógão Grande, the Government started the task of putting in execution, with a long-term vision, forest reform back in the middle of 2016."

"Two Councils of Ministers extraordinary meetings have been dedicated exclusively to forest reform, which is the first time in the history of our democracy. And a period of extended public discussion on the subject was opened for three months, during which the CDS-PP and the PSD were totally absent.”

According to Capoulas Santos, "if there is a party or MP who should refrain from bringing this issue to debate, it is precisely the CDS-PP and the MP who is its president - Assunção Cristas.”

What was remarkable in this debate was the total refusal of the left wing parties to back up the government, even though they helped vote down the motion of censure for political reasons, referring to the CDS-PP move as an "unspeakable exploitation of the tragedy."

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