Deputy Cascais mayor in rift with PSD party top brass

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A former senior figure in Portugal’s centre-right party PSD has opened a rift with its current leader Rui Rio over questions of policy.

Miguel Pinto Liz packed out a central Lisbon hotel banqueting room with PSD party members, parliamentary deputies, top bankers, industrial association leaders and Cascais Council members as guest speaker of the International Club of Portugal.

He issued a string of damning indictments on the European Union’s failure to listen to and properly represent its citizens and, in particular the Portuguese and blamed this for the polarisation of politics in Europe to the far left and right populist parties.

In what one leading Portuguese journalist and newspaper editorial director called “a show of dissatisfaction at the way the party is being led on European policy issues” and, more pertinently, while the PSD’s leader Rui Rio – a former popular mayor of Porto – was away in Finland at the European popular Party Congress in Helsinki, the atmosphere was one of plotting intrigue with an outlet for disgruntled high-ranking PSD members than a mere speech on “Portugal and Europe: How to build an alternative.’”

The Deputy mayor said there was a dissatisfaction among the Portuguese with the country’s centre parties (opposition PSD and governing PS) which was evident from polls.

Talking specifically about the PSD, he said that: “It pains me to say that the PSD cannot argue for an increase in the minimum salary” which was only part of the left-wing parties’ (Bloco Esquerda and Communist Party of Portugal) and unions’ list of demands (CGTP and UGT).

“A social democratic party must push for this for our citizens” he argued. But Pinto Liz that  pushing for an increase in the minimum salary should not be done in the way the left-wing parties have been doing, by calling for amounts of €650, €750 or €850 “as if this were an auction.”

Instead, the PSD understood that there were businesses involved and solutions had to involve business leaders.

However, Miguel Pinto Luz said his comments had nothing to do with putting himself forward to  a possible senior party position. “I just want to prick your consciences” he said.

Pinto Luz also said that while European matters didn’t win elections in Portugal, the EU and its policies had to be brought into the centre of political and policy discussions.

He added that he was worried that Europe was falling behind economically and that by 2050 Europe’s largest economy, Germany, would only be the ninth most important economic power in the world while France would fall down to 19th position.

“In 30 years Europe will only have two Member-States in the G20 and none in the G7” he warned.