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Is continuity at the center? Seven instructions for reading the new Government

1. This government is valid until mid-2021. Antonio Costa does not want to think about governance for four years, but for two: whether it is, as Express explained on Saturday, in the first half of 2021 Portugal will have an EU presidency and this will force the Prime Minister to leave longer. The problem is that this new government is in the minority and a few months later (in October 2021) there will be local elections that cannot be lost. Therefore the hard core of the Government has five members: Costa and four state ministers. Not seen much since the last renovation of Antonio Guterres.

2 Economy is more valuable than finance – especially when bad winds blow from outside and when we know that Centeno might not stay long. Antonio Costa had warned well during the pre-campaign, said at lunch with the businessman that he did not understand why the finance minister was being talked about a lot, because the economy was at least as important as the briefcase. From there, he made Pedro Siza Vieira the first on the list of state ministers. In practice, he will be number two and who will replace him in leading the Council of Ministers when he is absent. A sign that, once freed from the shackles of the Bloc and CFP, support for business ties can be an alpha and omega of Costa politics (and that finance will reduce weight in political discourse). Is this a more central beach?

3. And Centeno, lost Public Administration? Even going up to the Minister of State, Mário Centeno not only lost in the hierarchy to Siza Vieira – also lost the Public Administration to the new ministry. The solution is not new, but has not been seen since António Guterres (without brilliant results, he said) and leaves doubt: the new ministry will, as it seems, direct supervision of the Administrative career or only the administrative component. your modernization? And what level of management autonomy will you have with finance?

This novelty in organic government carries one more question mark in his hand. The new minister is Alexandra Leitão. The Secretary of State has been at war with one of the most important sectors of civil service, teachers (and in particular the CGTP trade union Mario Nogueira). If António Costa wants to continue what he has written in his Government program – which is a special career review of Public Administration – if the new Ministry also has career management, then Costa will have Alexandra Leitão a minister. determined to enter into this front improvement. But without a majority, would the prime minister buy this war?

4. Minister's 'little gadget'. We have told you that Antonio Costa will face difficult months until mid-2021. Therefore he has decided to give more weight to four ministers: Economy, Foreign Affairs, Presidency, and Finance. Costa's idea is to allow greater coordination at all times when he has to devote himself to external tasks – but also to balance dishes in balance. Because of that his choice was innocent: Siza Vieira would have next to Centeno; and two 'economic' will have two politicians together – Augusto Santos Silva and Mariana Vieira da Silva. But be careful: none of the four are known to have close relations with the parties who will make this Government budget feasible initially. Hundreds are hated; Siza is seen as a business and business person; Santos Silva is the minister who hit the beam; and Mariana Vieira da Silva has a reputation (and profit) for being PM's right hand man. The best way is to jump to the next point to see where this path leads us.

5. Secretary of state to manage minorities. That's right: contrary to what some newspapers have made in the last few days, Duarte Cordeiro hasn't risen to become minister of parliamentary affairs. He remained as foreign minister, with the most difficult task of running a minority government without the role of the past. Is that innocent, or is the sign on the left that the new government will not devote more importance to negotiations (and therefore the ball of stability is on their side)?

6. Do priorities indicate reform? The message was in the electoral program and Costa repeated it with every campaign intervention: the four axes of the new government program would be a digital transition, the fight against climate change, inequality and demographics. And now the prime minister has distributed it to three ministers, giving them transverse coordination power. That is, the power to arrange steps with other ministers at the table. They were, by order, Siza Vieira, Matos Fernandes and Mariana Vieira da Silva (and only one, Environment, not the Minister of State). If Costa wants to leave the reformist mark after four years, the iron will be in their hands. But didn't Costa admit to not liking the idea of ​​structural reform?

7. The loyal, for battle. This is the government with the most ministers since 1976, also the government with the most women. This is clearly a younger government, because those who enter are from a younger generation than those who leave. But above all else is a more socialist government, closer to António Costa – as shown by new promotions and entries (Ana Abrunhosa, for example, has been closely coordinating with the PM since the 2017 fire, in front of the CCDR from the Center). The lesson is this: unlike what happened four years ago, Costa no longer cares about independence, prefers to strengthen executive cohesion and loyalty to his leadership. This will be a time of political battle, for sure.

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