Rui Rio’s PSD will vote against the State Budget for 2021 (OE2021). The decision will only be announced within five days, but the Observer knows that everything is ready to throw the Government into the arms of Bloco de Esquerda and PCP: António Costa will really have to make the document on the left viable or be consistent with what he promised and submit the resignation.
At the end of September, in an interview with Expresso, the Prime Minister made it clear that on the day that this Government depended on the PSD, it would be over. “If they dream that they will put the PS in the condition of going to negotiate with the PSD the continuation of the Government, they can take the horse out of the rain, because we will not negotiate on the right for the subsistence of this Government”, he dismissed.
The truth is that Costa’s answer had a second part: “I will not ask the PSD to vote against or abstain”. An idea that he repeated again this Friday in an interview with Público. Between the lines: if Rui Rio, on his own initiative, decided to make the Budget viable with him; the prime minister would not move a muscle for that purpose.
But this hypothesis, the Observer knows, is not part of Rui Rio’s plans. The idea is to vote against the State Budget and wait for António Costa to take off the boot he decided to put on. The thesis circulating in the hard core of the Social Democratic leader is that if the marriage on the left went well in health – in times of economic boom, read – it has to endure illness. Read: the PS will have to face the economic and social crisis that is going through the country and which has everything to get worse before it starts to improve.
In a scenario of great unpredictability on the left, the moment chosen to announce the decision – Wednesday, October 21, at the party’s parliamentary days – gains special importance. The PSD will say that it will vote against the State Budget before Bloco de Esquerda (October 25) and that of the PCP (which did not close any date, but promised to fight until the vote in general, scheduled for October 28).
Now, if Rio announced the vote after the government’s left-wing partners, it would do little or nothing if Block and / or PCP allowed the Budget to become viable. In this scenario, the PSD’s position would be little more than irrelevant.
In case the left definitively complicates life for the Government, everything would be even worse: the approval of the Budget would be in the hands of Rui Rio and the pressure would be tremendous – above all because the Social Democratic leader has always tried to assert as a brand image the idea that he puts the national interest above the party’s interest.
Taking the decision before – and the decision will lead to the lead – the PSD will put the pressure on the left side that will have to decide ‘yes or soups’: they either give their hand to the Government (and they become co-responsible for government) or they stay out and are seen as irresponsible.
The idea is to point out, at every opportunity, the weakness of the left-wing majority in Parliament. “With the country as it is, these people are setting a very bad example. It is an unqualified irresponsibility”, Criticizes a member of the hard core of Rio. In Parliament, Duarte Pacheco, vice president of the PSD parliamentary bench, did not, in fact, hide any amusement with the tension in the apparently defunct ‘geringoça’. “We’ve seen angry boyfriends and purposes of Catholic marriages with less violence than those that you are providing here ”, said the Social Democrat.
It was not even the first time that the PSD showed signs that it would be ready to fail the Budget right away. Also in late September, in an interview with TVI, Nuno Morais Sarmento was particularly hard on António Costa. “The PS is ‘Look, look, look!’ to approve a decisive Budget ”. Even before António Costa handed him over, the PSD’s vice president said emphatically that the PSD would never lend a hand to the prime minister. “It is a scenario that does not arise. [Se as negociações à esquerda falharem] unfortunately the prime minister will have to resign, ”said the Social Democrat.
Since then, however, a lot of ink has been written on the red lines of the Block (which alone, with an abstention, can approve the Government Budget) and on the PCP’s hesitations. In between, there were also messages from Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa and the presidential ear tugs to Rui Rio.
None of this, however, changed the strategy of the Social Democrats. Essentially, for a reason: first, no one is taking the existential drama of ‘contraption’ seriously, in particular the ultimatums of the Left Bloc. There is a deep conviction, among several members of the PSD leadership, that the Budget will really pass and that all this is comic opera.
What if the budget doesn’t pass? There are no closed answers precisely because it is a scenario to which little reliability is attributed. But there is a common understanding: as it is designed, this Budget cannot take the ‘yes’ of the PSD. It would have to be done from scratch – remember that if the document fails, Costa will, in theory, have to present a new one – or be worked hard to deserve Rui Rio’s attention.
In any case, this is a question that does not arise now: it is António Costa who has a political crisis in hand; and he has to untie the knot. Rui Rio, this one, will watch in a chair until October 28th.