“I have decided to dissolve the Assembly of the Republic and call elections for March 10,” the head of state said after meeting with the parliamentary parties and his advisory body. Parliament will be dissolved by the president only after the budget for next year is approved, which should happen on November 29. This corresponds, according to de Sousa, to “the expectations of a large number of Portuguese”.
The calling of early elections was requested by almost all opposition parties. The ruling socialists, who have a majority in parliament, preferred to continue ruling with a new prime minister. However, calling elections for March will give them time to find a new leader after Costa.
Resignation of the prime minister due to corruption
Portugal’s political crisis erupted on Tuesday when the Attorney General’s Office announced it would investigate Prime Minister Costa over alleged corruption. Costa announced the same day that he was resigning and that he would not run for prime minister again. However, according to the president’s statement today, he will remain at the head of the government “until he is replaced according to the terms of the constitution.”
Police searched 40 locations on Tuesday, including Costa’s official residence and the offices of the infrastructure and environment ministries. The raids relate to alleged corruption in four major energy and industrial projects involving lithium mining and hydrogen production from renewable sources.
Costa says he has a clear conscience and intends to cooperate with investigators. Infrastructure Minister Joao Galamba was charged and the head of Costa’s office, Vítor Escária, was arrested.