Debate: Passos vs Costa

Debate passos costa

The Portuguese elections will be held in less than 30 days time, and the election campaign has already started.  With it came the most anticipated debate, Pedro Passos Coelho (left image), current Prime-Minister and leader of the Right-Wing coalition, against António Costa (right image), Socialist Party leader.

The first time ever that a debate was broadcast in all 3 major TV channels, seen by 3.3 million people and predicted by many experts to play a decisive role in this election, not only because it was the only TV broadcasted debate between Passos and Costa, but because there is still a high number of undecided voters.

When asked by journalists, voters said they wanted to see themes like Employment/Unemployment, especially the high youth unemployment, pensions and what were their proposals for the future of this country to be on the agenda…

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Instead of giving proper attention to themes like youth unemployment and what were their proposals to tackle it, how they were going to make the economy grow, what was really happening to pensions, and how that would be possible with financial restrictions and stability, the debate was overshadowed by discussions over the legacy of the 2011 election. It was predictable that our former prime-minister (Sócrates) Probation would affect this whole election campaign, furthermore this debate, but the Portuguese are sick and tired of repetition of the past, of whoever was responsible for calling the Troika, whoever praised the Troika economic adjustment programme ( despite not reforming the State as it should have done). [1]

Yes we should learn from our mistakes and make sure we have learned our lesson, however saying the name of the former socialist Prime-Minister 12 times won’t enrich a debate and certainly won’t take us a step closer to prosperity. [2]

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(José Sócrates, Portugal former Prime Minister)

If I were to resume this debate I would choose Keynes famous quote: “I do not know which makes a man more conservative – to know nothing but the present, or nothing but the past. “, on one side the Right-wing Coalition leader (Passos) was constantly talking about the former socialist government and Costa persisted in talking about the current state of the country, which means unfortunately that the future of this country took a backseat in this debate.[3]

In the end a debate is a debate and despite it not being a competition or a race, people will always claim someone as the “winner”, and in fact the majority of the people believe that Costa won, not because he delivered his view for the country but because he managed above any expectations in this debate, tackling the “Sócrates” factor and arguing about the lack of concrete numbers in the right-wing coalition’s electoral program.

However the question that we should be asking is not who won the debate, but whether or not the Portuguese were able to get their questions answered about the future, and unfortunately the answer to that question would be a big and assertive NO. Even though Costa might have won this debate, the Portuguese voter was still the loser…

Luís Carvalho, Portugal

Graduate of Democracy 2015

[1] http://expresso.sapo.pt/economia/2015-06-02-Miguel-Cadilhe-Reforma-estrutural-do-Estado-nao-foi-feita-

[2] http://www.sol.pt/noticia/411006/o-debate-de-passos-e-costa…-afinal-foi-com-sócrates

[3] http://www.jn.pt/opiniao/default.aspx?content_id=4772431

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