Now Vice-Prime Minister Paulo Portas will have to show what he's really made of.
The Portuguese, on the 4th of October, re-elected the government that subjected them to a severe package of austerity measures with a caveat: the centre-right lost the majority in parliament.
The President, Aníbal Cavaco Silva, issued a statement urging the winning party to reach an agreement with the socialists to ensure a stable legislature. The Portuguese head of state however rejected the idea of any agreement with Anti-NATO and Anti-Euro parties (i.e. communists and ultra-left).
So the ball is in the Socialist court: will António Costa place the country before ideology? One can only hope so. The electorate rejected his economic programme and he must work with that fact in mind, purging himself thus of megalomaniac illusions.
The Government won the elections but the electorate warned it that it wants a smoother path towards fiscal discipline. Will PM Passos Coelho and Vice-PM Paulo Portas put the country before ideology? For the sake of the country, one can only hope so.
I would like to congratulate Passos Coelho for having acknowledged, in his victory speech, that Paulo Portas is a fabulous negotiator (NB: the Portuguese don't know how to recognise a decent, patriotic, civil servant when he's standing right before their eyes – such is the case with Mr Portas); therefore, I am counting on his political wisdom and skills to reach an agreement with the Socialist Party. Notwithstanding, if the socialists insist on threatening Portugal's stability (i.e. forming a government with the communists and the radical left): they will have to be dealt with and Portugal may be back to the polls soon.
President Cavaco Silva had an Ariel Sharon moment last week: by giving prominence to António Costa, to prove that the Socialist Party is only interested in power, he gambled Portugal's stability.
Russia and the Syrian Question
As we all know, Russia has been conducting military operations in Syria. As a result, the world has been pretending to be in panic and have been urging Mr Putin to focus his strikes on ISIS; but this is nonsensical inasmuch as Vladimir Putin has stated over and over again that his goal, in Syria, was to support Bashar al-Assad: what did the world think he meant by it? Supporting President Assad implies attacking both ISIS and the anti-Assad rebels.
The West designed a programme to train and arm moderate rebels to fight ISIS/AQ and al-Assad (even though last Friday, it was reported that the US is pausing its programme). But here's the dilemma: the only moderate rebels in Syria are the groups composed by Christians and other minorities who support President al-Assad - a man whom, in the western mind, has to go. But does he really?
- Western interests supported the ousting of President Mubarak (even though Pres. Obama resisted the idea for as long as he could), result: the Muslim Brotherhood took over and set back Egypt's stability and progress by many years.
- Western interests supported the ousting of Muammar Gaddafi (with the support of the Arab League), result: the country turned into chaos, its weaponry ended up in the hands of terrorists in the ME and Africa, calls for partition of the land were made heard and, ultimately, ISIS took over the show.
- Western interests supported the ousting of a democratically elected Iranian leader (Mohammed Mossadegh) just because they couldn't be bothered to make him an offer he couldn't refuse. They chose the easiest and most obvious solution (a coup d'état); result: they helped to pave the way for the Islamic Revolutionary Movement to take over Iran, rule by oppression and spread Islamic terror throughout the globe.
- Western interests now want to make the same mistake in Syria. They stand in the way of stability and peace. No.