Politician Rui Rio left in the middle of a debate this Tuesday to "set an example" for the Social Democrat (PSD) party. The Social Democrat leader made this decision after the Speaker of the Assembly of the Republic, Ferro Rodrigues, recalled that the party had 36 MPs in the room, when the COVID-19 preventive measures recommend that no more than 18 members of the party were present.
It all started when Ricardo Baptista Leite, a PSD MP, questioned the pertinence of continuing to have parliamentary debates during the pandemic. Rio said he shared this view, but he was also not indifferent to the Speaker’s proceedings. "I totally agree with what Mr. Baptista Leite said, but I also agree with what Mr. Speaker now said. I have here a group of MPs who should not be here and are here. I will be the first to leave to set an example for those who are here and shouldn't be, "said Mr. Rio, then headed for the exit.
Minutes before the episode, MP Baptista Leite had criticized the Speaker for insisting on keeping the debates going, noting that the PSD had proposed that Parliament's activity should be reduced during the outbreak to the members of the permanent commission, a group that normally acts during essential periods and that reduces the presence of MPs to the leader of each party. Baptista Leite said that, in this way, "we would avoid putting everyone at risk", adding that, "in this case, Mr. Speaker and the majority are wrong".
In response, The Speaker recalled that the current solution was decided in a conference of leaders and stressed that the MPs must "set an example for prevention and work", since continuing to work during this time is the reality of millions of people. "Parliamentary groups should have a fifth of their MPs in the room. Do you know how many deputies the PSD should have in the room at the moment? 18. Do you know how many there are? 36. I am sorry, but that is not the responsibility of the speaker, it is the responsibility of your bench", shot Ferro Rodrigues, motivating the intervention and the consequent leaving of Mr. Rio.