A crisis of the regime

A crisis of the regime


On November 7th, after searches of his official residence, and a statement from the Public Ministry stating that he would be the target of an investigation, the Prime Minister informed the country of the following: «The dignity of the duties of Prime Minister is not compatible with suspicion of any criminal act. Obviously I submitted my resignation to the President of the Republic (…). My resignation was accepted by the President of the Republic. You may want to consider from what date my resignation takes effect.” On the same date, the President of the Republic confirmed on his official website that he had accepted the Prime Minister’s resignation.

However, on November 9th, the President of the Republic announced to the country that he would only formalize this resignation after the approval of the State Budget. He has, however, already announced the dissolution of Parliament, although he will only carry it out in January, so that elections can only be scheduled for March 10th.

This postponement by the President of the Republic of the effects of a resignation he accepted is clearly unconstitutional. In fact, according to the Constitution, when the Prime Minister’s resignation is accepted, the Government is immediately dismissed (art. 195º, nº1, b) of the Constitution). Now, when the Government is dismissed, all the law proposals it presented to Parliament expire (art. 167, no. 6, of the Constitution), naturally including that of the Budget. Therefore, the approval of the Budget for 2024 is clearly unconstitutional, since the Constitution expressly determines its expiry in this case.

That the constitutional solution is absolutely correct is demonstrated by what has happened with the proposed amendments to the Budget, which have recently emerged. Afraid of the elections, the PS proposes the removal of an emblematic measure from the Budget, which is the increase in the IUC. And the opposition parties also presented clearly electoral proposals for amendments, with the full recovery of teachers’ service time being proposed, which has a huge impact on public accounts. The Budget is therefore stillborn, and it is not believed that the new Government will maintain it.

At the same time, the Government, which should be fully functional, is undergoing a partisan election campaign, with ministers resigning without being replaced. We thus have a Government that has been dismissed, but is fully functional, which certainly constitutes a constitutional originality.

At the same time, there is another constitutional originality, which is that we have a Parliament with a final dissolution, which invokes this reason for not monitoring the Government, thus abolishing fortnightly debates, even when the Government falls apart in the eyes of the Portuguese.

With his enormous qualities as a constitutionalist, the President of the Republic thus constructed the square of the constitutional circle: he maintains in full capacity a dismissed Government and a dissolved Parliament, to approve an obviously stillborn Budget. And he puts it this way, putting a country in limbo for four months, which will reach March with all institutions in total discredit. We are in a clear regime crisis.


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