Economic stagnation did not come suddenly. It came in slowly and imperceptibly when António Guterres formed his first government. It’s been 27 years. Almost three decades of slow decline accompanied by a subtle conformism of the population that feels trapped by something that it does not define because it does not see. Alongside the accumulation of deficits in public accounts, which led to an unaffordable debt, the country plunged into another deficit, that of the balance of goods, which rose from 8 billion euros in 1996 to 18 billion euros in 2000. It only took 4 years .
From then on, the country was trapped in a spiral of desperation of flight forward. Eager to resume previous growth rates, the PS spent what it did not have and put the country in debt. It indebted the State, through public deficits, and indebted the community through incentives for consumption so that, somehow, the economy would grow. The end of the road is known and has two names: Sócrates and troika.
Having avoided bankruptcy, the PS understood that its political survival depended on the right accounts. From then on, he raised taxes, invented fees, captivated spending and arranged various subterfuges to cut incomes without being asked for political responsibilities. Expense, did not cut any. To help, the socialists handed out some subsidies and hired more civil servants: people who would otherwise be jobless or forced to emigrate and who now have a guaranteed income; low but safe.
This strategy has a cost that the country is beginning to pay: the deterioration of democracy and institutions. More and more Portuguese people depend on the State (political power) to live. Portuguese who dare not vote for those who promise the necessary reforms and who demand a reduction in the weight of the State. Alongside this electorate (which the PS considers for granted) the socialists also count on the flight of those who, without work in the civil service, leave the country. They are Portuguese whose vote loses weight as there are only 4 eligible deputies outside Portugal out of a total of 230. For every Portuguese who leaves the country in search of work and better wages, the PS gains a vote inside. With the advantage that António Costa can still say that the unemployment rate is historically low. The ECB’s zero interest rates created unique conditions to reduce indebtedness, cut spending and lower taxes, but the PS used them for growth based on more debt that undermines the economy and is thrown at younger people who don’t vote or those who haven’t even been born yet.
This article is exclusive to our subscribers: subscribe now and benefit from unlimited reading and other benefits. If you are already a subscriber, log in here. If you think this message is in error, contact our customer support.