"I recently heard a speech by Professor Paulo Almeida at the Estoril Political Forum; he is a friend with large international experience. Here it is, in abbreviated form," writes Jack Soifer.
Will this become a Failed State?
It may be, judging by recent facts in the last months, in the political, judicial and institutional spheres, all of them very busy with too many cases of corruption, protests, and failures.
So, this is the true state of political affairs in my country: the scenario is deteriorating rapidly, to say the least.
We have a Failing State, in many definitions of this concept. Its political system, under whichever criteria we may choose, already has failed. This is the result not only of the kleptocratic behaviour exhibited by some of its members, but also because of the very well known rent-seeking attitude of many, if not all, representatives of the elites, bankers, politicians, trade-unionists and many others.
The present scenario is on the verge of anomie, not only because of episodic factors, such as the recent political crisis or economic recession, but because of a structural deterioration in our institutions, despite an apparent resiliency of its formally democratic architecture. The true crisis nowadays is of a moral order, the very glue that maintains a nation united behind its values and principles. Our citizens today no longer trust any of the three branches of government, the Executive, the Legislative and the Judiciary.
“real income per capita of the average citizen will be the same, perhaps even less, than its level ten years ago – but the state of the public debt will be verging on bankruptcy”
Politicians lack any consensus around the necessary reforms in our ailing institutions. These will be weakening over the next few years, towards our first fifty years of existence in an independent/democratic nation, irrespective of the coming elections.
Indeed, in 2022, real income per capita of the average citizen will be the same, perhaps even less, than its level ten years ago; the state of the public debt will be verging on bankruptcy; and our political system, as a result of laws boosting large parties although 53% do not vote, will bring a disaster in governance.
These facts pale when confronted with the moral dereliction of our so-called political elites, together with the promiscuous fund-managers and bankers that have been funding the former, in a rare neglect of duty for a country that formally was modern, proud of its democratic institutions, and possessing a modern State compared to other countries.
Do we have a toxic State?
Is it true that we are a consolidated democracy, possessing a functional State and strong institutions capable of cleaning the rotten apples that sometimes plagues the governing and representative bodies of this State?
I am not sure of that when Iook at the last eight years of troubling developments. Taking into account the evidences raised by the Press, the Public Prosecutors and the Judiciary, not only the well known “gates”, I think that we have a Failing State. How did we arrive at this state of affairs, of not having a stable government nor a performing parliament?
In public accounts and macroeconomic management, we had a storm, a self-inflicted crash course on how to destroy an entire country in one decade and on how to implode a whole economy in less than eight years, even if the process took a little longer to be built. There was an erosion of normal rules of governance, a perfectly fitted country for a schizophrenic process of dereliction.
“State bureaucracy… conduct a crude process of deepening the already unequal income distribution, through very high wages and an infinite number of benefits that take a large part of the current expenditures in the budget”
This political decay was due to a combination of corrupt lobbyists and a greedy class of high State technocrats that led the game towards the 2009 economic crisis, then a political crisis afterwards. The State bureaucracy, privileged as the French énarchie, has many mandarins who conduct a crude process of deepening an already unequal income distribution through very high wages and an infinite number of benefits that soak up a large part of the current expenditure in the budget. And, last, but not least, during two mandates of a moderate president and the disastrous mandates of his successor, we assisted a truly “scientifically planned” scheme of corruption in the top sphere of the public administration, going higher and deeper in the scale of an organized gang robbery during the last decade and half.
How could we arrive at that? How did we become so delinquent in terms of governance and economic corrosion? Why was our Weberian State so rapidly and irresponsibly destroyed by a gang of political mafiosi that took the country by assault from 2003 up to 2016 (at least)? How could we have taken a leading role in the unhappy championship of failures? How did a bunch of kleptocrats steal the State and our citizens over so many years? What does all this mean for technocrats like me, for academic people like you, for all of us? What can we, and our foreign friends, do in the face of all this?
The reasons for the dire state of affairs are multiple and variable, over the last two decades, but can be explained by three facts. One is the backward Weltanschaung – if the concept applies – of our political elites, which does not merit this qualification, as they are rent-seeking and opportunistic.
“How did a bunch of kleptocrats steal the State and our citizens over so many years? What does all this mean for technocrats like me, for academic people like you, for all of us? What can we, and our foreign friends, do in the face of all this?
Then, there’s our schizophrenic Constitution, a monument to political demagoguery and economic populism, refurbished and expanded by a bizarre coalition of professional politicians and Gramscian literati, both acting on the premises of politically correctness.
The third reason is the conquest of the State by a criminal organisation acting under the disguise of large political parties. This third factor exerts a portentous influence on the whole process of deterioration.
Can you figure out which country Professor Paulo Almeida was speaking about?