16 February 2022

Almost all outlets focus on the decision of the Constitutional Court to declare the European constituency election null and void and to order a re-run of the vote. This decision has been welcomed by most and means the inauguration of the new parliament and government will be delayed for a further three weeks. The meeting between PM Costa and representatives of other parliamentary parties is mentioned. One outlet notes that the demand for precious metals has increased by almost 30%

Lusa, RTP, Expresso, CNN PT, DN all focus on the unanimous decision of the Constitutional Court to declare null and void the elections in the Europe constituency in which 157,000 votes were annulled, and to order fresh elections at the polling stations at which there were problems. The court’s decision to re-run the election was in response to complaints lodged by Livre, PAN, Volt and Chega. CNN PT notes that while this might “correct the original error”, it claims many Portuguese nationals in Europe believe it may also lead to an increase in abstention if postal voting is not to be permitted. DN and RTP report that this decision will delay the inauguration of the new parliament and government until the middle of next month. 

RTP, Público and Lusa all quote PM Costa apologising to those voters whose ballots have been voided while appealing to all citizens to get out and cast their vote again, adding that this situation “should serve as a lesson for us all”. RTP cites Rui Rio, who says the court’s decision “proved the PSD was correct”. Meanwhile, Expresso note that President Rebelo de Sousa said “I assumed they would not decide to annul the elections. It’s democracy at work. It’s a lesson for the parties”, as he gave his backing to the urgent need to change the electoral law.

Público and CNN PT report on the meetings between PM Costa and the representatives of all the parties with parliamentary representation, with the exception of Chega. Costa is reported to have said there were many “good signs”, with each party setting out their priorities as the PM sought to reassure them that his government will engage productively and that the government and parliament will “have exactly the same powers”, despite “the conditions being different” since “it is desirable and healthy” for democracy “to be exercised through dialogue, the frank exchange of views and consensus”. CNN PT notes that PM Costa “has not closed the door on anything”, with PSD president Rui Rio noting the current legislature has an opportunity to make reforms in areas such as the revision of the Constitution, electoral laws and decentralisation.

DN discusses the forthcoming meeting between government officials and experts at the National Authority of Medicines and Health Products that could lift restrictions that President Rebelo de Sousa said he believed could be the start of the “transition phase from pandemic to endemic”.

Expresso and JN report that the Portuguese stock exchange opened higher, with green energy company EDP Renováveis and hotel group Ibersol among those making the biggest gains during a session in which investors continue to show concern for the situation in Ukraine.

Público and Expresso feature news that Environment Minister João Matos Fernandes has authorised the cutting down of cork and holm oak forests in the Gavião municipality in the interior of the country to make way for the construction by Akua Renováveis of a €95 million 15-hectare solar power plant, which the government has declared to be of “essential public utility”.

Público picks up a report in Lusa in which the president of the Association for Economic and Social Development advisory board, the economist Abel Mateus, says “Europe’s dependence on Russian natural gas is something extremely complicated, which is being used by Russia not only in terms of price increases but also in political and geostrategic terms”. He added that this is “a very serious problem”, for which there does not seem to be “a solution in the short- or medium-term, and Europe has not yet thought about how it will resolve the issue”.

Visão carries a Eurostat report showing that the eurozone’s external trade surplus fell to €128.4 billion in 2021, down from €233.9 billion a year earlier.

Expresso notes a report from the ECB that claims the spike in gas prices will have “a significantly negative impact on eurozone activity in 2022”. The ECB report says that given the magnitude of the increases gas prices are expected to have a negative impact on the eurozone economy this year. 

Visão and Expresso note that debt interest rates have risen to their highest levels since May 2020. Economist Abel Mateus says it is “inevitable” that the ECB will raise the general interest rate, warning that to do so too quickly could lead to a recession in two or three years. Público adds that the ECB will be forced to react to inflation sooner than expected and that the Portuguese economy is preparing to face a scenario of rising interest rates that it has managed to avoid in recent years, with the rising cost of borrowing having a significant impact families, businesses and the state.

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