There are those who call him “ET from the north” who “doesn’t understand anything about politics” because they want consensus for the fundamental reform that the country needs, but Rui Rio, who has been “saying the same thing for 10 years”, will not change a comma. At the end of the PSD’s parliamentary days in Portalegre, the party leader took the stage to pull his strings as a “person with moral authority” and reassure the parliamentary bench: the people will realize that the PSD is interested in reforming the country and it is the PS who doesn’t want to “walk the country forward”.
“Out of 10 million Portuguese there shouldn’t be many people with the moral authority I have: I couldn’t have made more effort to try to bring the government to reform. No one has ever done what I did”, he said, warning the PS — and António Costa — that they are “wasting the opportunity” of a lifetime, because there will not be other opposition leaders “available” to build these bridges.
Accusing the PS of “immobilism” and of being only interested in “feeding the socialist clientele” and not improving the country, Rui Rio cleared even António Costa. It’s not his fault alone. “António Costa doesn’t want to reform anything. And even if he wanted to reform, the PS wouldn’t let him, because the PS, in its culture, just wants to keep power in order to feed the socialist clientele”, he stated.
“The government is nominating, the PS is postponing and Portugal is withering away”, he predicted, stressing that no matter how much the PSD “screams” or says “that it cannot be like that”, the PS will always remain “immovable”. Dead end? For Rio, the way out is at the polls: “The people will eventually realize” that it was the PS that “did not take the opportunity of having an opposition leader who was — and is — willing to do what is necessary” . AND “they will hardly have another opportunity”.
Illicit enrichment only catches “little unintelligent corruptions”
The reform of the justice system is still at the head of the reforms wanted by Rui Rio, but that is not why it is finished. For now, the PSD has presented 3 anti-corruption bills, to be debated next week on a ride with the projects presented by the other parties and the idea launched by the Association of Judges, but also on one of them the leader of the party himself has doubts that it solves anything in fact.
This is the bill on unjustified enrichment, where the PSD proposes to increase the declarative obligations of politicians and increase prison sentences for the intentional concealment of increased income, but without immediately criminalizing their lack of justification (limiting to refer to the MP). According to Rui Rio, there is no way to criminalize illicit enrichment that is in accordance with the Constitution, and even if it were possible to do so, it would not solve anything. At the limit, it would only serve to “catch a little corrupt child without great intelligence”.
“VWe want to be serious with the Portuguese people: even if we managed to criminalize illicit enrichment in the terms in which it went to TC and came back, we wouldn’t catch anyone who was corrupt. We caught a little corrupt little boy without great intelligence”, he said, suggesting that “a corrupt person, if he received something wrongly, put it in the name of any friend, and preferably a friend who lives far away”. In other words, it’s not there.
In this regard, Rio accuses public opinion and political power of having created the idea that if illicit enrichment is criminalized “the problem is solved”, when it is not true and, in the last case, such it will only serve to increase the “discredit” with the institutions.
Rio’s solution involves, he says, providing institutions with more means of investigation, making adjustments to the penal framework, extending the statute of limitations for crimes (“in Operation Marquis, this was one of the problems”), and aggravating additional penalties such as losses term of office. And, of course, review the composition of the superior councils of the MP and the Magistracy for a majority of non-judges — a proposal by Rio that has been much criticized.
As for Costa, a name that the PSD leader hardly touches, a criticism: the only measures he adopted for justice were “to increase the salary of magistrates”, making a trainee judge earn more today than a professor at the top of career, and “appointing a European Public Prosecutor in accordance with the Government’s wishes”. Nothing else.
The danger, says Rio, is lurking: it is that with an evolving society and without a regime adapted to reality and evolving on itself, democracy is degraded and this is what fuels extremism. The “lucky” is that “we do not have strong extremist forces in Portuguese society”.