The President of the Republic opened this Thursday the door to the declaration of a new state of emergency in Portugal, even though this may provide for different measures from those that were declared in March, that is, without general mandatory confinement as then happened.
“There has to be a calibration of the measures, some more specific for certain territories, others global, for the whole country”, said Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa in Belém, outside the reception for Portuguese cyclists João Almeida and Rúben Guerreiro, who stood out in the Italy giro. “A balance will have to be found, because now it is more difficult than it was in March and there needs to be parliamentary and social consensus, because people have to understand what they really have to do [para conter a pandemia]”, said.
The reference to Parliament is a sign that the President is even considering a new declaration of a state of emergency, since this requires that the Government be heard and authorized by Parliament. The problem may lie precisely in the lack of consensus on that statement, which was glued to the idea of a new confinement for which there is no consensus, neither in the Government, nor in Parliament, nor in society.
This scenario has already been discussed between the President and the Prime Minister at the weekly meeting that took place yesterday, anticipating the Council of Ministers this Thursday and the European Council that is taking place in the late afternoon to harmonize measures in Europe. But the decision to go ahead with the state of emergency or not will only be announced by Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa after the extraordinary meeting of the Council of Ministers on Saturday, which will serve precisely to calibrate and define new measures to contain the pandemic. The President admits making a statement to the country next week, as he told reporters in Belém.
“[O primeiro-ministro] exposed me to his ideas. The political parties will hear about these ideas tomorrow [sexta-feira]. Will meet a Council [de Ministros] extraordinary on Saturday. He will speak to the country on Saturday to say the measures to which the Government points and the roadmap for these measures ”, he said, quoted by Lusa. “And then I will eventually admit saying something to the country over the course of next week,” he added.
Emergency is not equal to confinement
If re-declared, the state of emergency would have as its main objective to serve as a legal umbrella for restrictive measures of rights, freedoms and fundamental guarantees to avoid the rain of criticism that constitutionalists have been making to individual measures of the Government. Marcelo revealed that he shares the legal concerns – “whether or not it was constitutionalist” – and is convinced that “the Government will consider all these observations and will try to find the way in the process of reflection” that is underway.
Marcelo stated that when applying measures “one always weighs rights, freedoms and guarantees on the one hand, and life and health on the other”, but underlined: “Do not forget a small detail: is that measures that have to pass through parliament they have to pass through parliament, that is, they have to be approved by parliament, be it laws or other measures ”.
A reference to the criticisms that the circulation restrictions foreseen for the next few days have not passed through any other sovereign body, neither Parliament nor the President, consisting only of a Government resolution.
Despite this repair, he relativized the gravity of the situation, considering that the restrictions have many exceptions, they are “almost an aggravated recommendation, rather than an imposition accompanied by the application of sanctions”.
“I know that there is a concern, which I also have, obviously, if I were not a jurist and professor of Constitutional Law, which is that we should frame the various measures in what we have as a constitutional and legal regime, which was not designed for this. It was not. And there was no time to change it, “he said.” In the future, you will see how we adapt what we have to situations as specific as a pandemic, “he added. With Lusa