Portugal: new political vetting system

after 11 ministers and secretaries of state depart

Prime Minister Antonio Costa who has introduced a new political vetting system
Prime Minister Antonio Costa

Reuters reports that Portugal’s government said last week that future officials would from now on have to answer a questionnaire before they are appointed to prove they are fit for office after a string of hiring scandals rocked the ruling Socialists.

The new vetting system, a set of 34 questions, would allow the government to verify the candidates’ background and that there were no conflicts of interest before they were appointed, Presidency Minister Mariana Vieira da Silva told a news conference.

Vieira da Silva said they would also have to sign a declaration of honour as part of a new political vetting system. “This mechanism is prior to nomination and seeks to anticipate a problem,” she said. “It is not an investigation… it is a set of questions that allows the person to take responsibility.”

The Socialists, led by Prime Minister Antonio Costa, won an outright parliamentary majority in an election a year ago.But the government has had a bumpy ride since then, with 11 ministers and secretaries of state leaving their roles, some over allegations of past misconduct or questionable practices.

It was reported earlier this month that secretary of state for agriculture Carla Alves, who quit around 26 hours into the job, allegedly had her bank accounts seized due to a corruption investigation into her husband, a former mayor. In late December, infrastructure minister Pedro Nuno Santos quit following a public backlash over hefty severance pay received by a new treasury secretary from state-owned airline TAP, which fell under the minister’s remit.

A Government in constant resignation

CNN Portugal reported on recent events in more detail:

“Carla Alves didn’t even warm up the chair. The Secretary of State for Agriculture was in office for 25 hours and 54 minutes, falling after it became known that she has bank accounts arrested because her husband was accused by the Public Ministry of crimes of corruption, prevarication and economic participation in business”
CNN Portugal report

It is the 13th resignation in a Government that has taken just over nine months, the 11th for political reasons, all of them linked to controversies, major or minor, with or without the involvement of Justice. Sara Abrantes Guerreiro and Rui Martinho, respectively Secretaries of State for Equality and Migration and Agriculture, left for health reasons, but the rest fell prey to controversies.

From Costa’s Successors to Deprecated

Marta Temido was the first to fall with a bang. Appointed by António Costa himself as a putative successor to the position of secretary general of the PS, the official ended up not resisting a succession of controversies that already carried over from the previous Government, and which had their lowest point with the death of a pregnant woman who was transferred due to lack of vacancies in Neonatology at Hospital de Santa Maria.

This case left Marta Temido without “conditions”, in what was the first of several blows to the executive. With the Minister of Health, António Lacerda Sales and Fátima Fonseca, her Secretaries of State, also fell.

More recent is the case of Pedro Nuno Santos, who even spent Christmas as Minister of Infrastructure and Housing, but who did not manage to spend the year in office. He was also mentioned as a potential successor to António Costa, but a series of controversies, with a high point in the case of the new airport, strained the relationship between the rulers.

Defender of the Government project for TAP from the beginning, he ended up leaving as a victim of the company, after the case of the controversial compensation given by the company to Alexandra Reis, who came to assume the position of Secretary of State for the Treasury, and who also ended up fired.

Accompanying him were Hugo Mendes and Marina Gonçalves, Secretaries of State for Infrastructure and Housing, respectively, with the latter taking over, in the meantime, the portfolio of the Ministry of Housing.

From “little house” to fired

António Costa nicknamed him “casinho”, but the controversy surrounding his Deputy Secretary of State is still likely to make a lot of ink run. It was learned on October 26 that Miguel Alves had advanced 300 thousand euros for the construction of a pavilion in Caminha at the time when he was president of that municipality. Only two weeks later, on October 10, and after many requests for clarification, did the official resign .

The officialization took place shortly after the Public Prosecutor’s Office accused Miguel Alves of the crime of prevarication . “In view of the accusation made by the Public Prosecutor’s Office, and even though I am not aware of its terms and assumptions, I understand that the conditions that allow my permanence in the Government of Portugal are not met”, said the official. Something that António Costa “understood well” .

Less than a month in office

It lasted longer than Carla Alves, but it didn’t last long either. On the 24th of December, it became known that the compensation of 500 thousand euros had been paid to Alexandra Reis, appointed at the beginning of that same month as Secretary of State for the Treasury. On December 27, the Ministry of Finance announced his departure , in a statement sent around 23:30, and which followed days of several resignation requests by the opposition and strong criticism from the opposition.

“I asked Eng.ª Alexandra Reis today to present her resignation as Secretary of State for the Treasury, which she promptly accepted”, referred the note signed by the minister, Fernando Medina.

Controversy in the economy

The dismissals took place in the Ministry of Economy and the Sea, but it was the Prime Minister himself who dismissed the Secretaries of State for Economy and Tourism. Although the reasons have not been clarified, it is known that there were fundamental differences between João Mendes and Rita Marques and the minister responsible for the portfolio, António Costa Silva.

At stake was a measure defended by the minister, the transversal descent of the IRC, something with which the Secretaries of State did not agree, having even contradicted António Costa Silva. The layoffs were announced mid-afternoon on November 29.

Thanks to Maurice for the link

COVID-19 in Madeira: updates can be found in an earlier post

7 thoughts on “Portugal: new political vetting system”

    • Michael
      Well in Madeira a least the projects are finished and conclude the same can say about Boris and is unfinished and failed projects like the 40 hospitals that seem a mirage in the long horizon.

  1. Compared with the “Track and trace” scandal plus the dodgy payouts for the furlough scheme to none existing companies that have cost the UK taxpayers tens of millions I think these “scandals” whilst deplorable are chicken feed compared to those in the Johnson administration.

    • We, the British, really like to run ourselves down. I wish some newspaper would have a small section where it ran stories of European nations and their problems. France and Germany, the stars of Europe, have a look at their headlines. Britain is part of a world economic crisis and far from being on it’s own.

  2. ⬆️⬆️ I said earlier that it would be interesting to see if this scheme would come into effect well, there are calls for it!

    “The JPP today challenged Miguel Albuquerque to apply in the Regional Government the prior verification questionnaire to the candidates of the Government of the Republic.”

    See the story on the news site:–

    • Maybe the UK can do that with Boris and is rich friends that the supposed enquirer and investigation gone under in the graveyard of the forgotten and forgiven land


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