Portugal. At the beginning of the year came a report from
the OECD that Portugal was well on its way out of the
economic crisis. Unemployment had now fallen from over 16%
to below 7%. According to
CountryAAH, the reasons were that things went better for
the export industry and that the tourism industry increased.
Nevertheless, the country was in second place in the EU when
it came to the budget net, a budget deficit of –3.0%, only
slightly better is neighboring Spain –3.1%.
At the end of the year, the government presented a budget
that showed that the deficit in the state budget would end
up at 0.1% of GDP, and where the economy was expected to
grow by just under 2% in 2019 and about as much by 2020.
That is almost twice the average for EU countries. Prime
Minister António Costa also promised to cut government debt
from 119% to 100% of GDP.
At the parliamentary elections on October 6, as expected,
Prime Minister António Costas won the Socialist Party (PS)
and became the largest party with 38% of the vote, which
meant 106 of 230 seats in the National Assembly. PS thus
strengthened its position but did not gain any own majority.
The largest opposition party, the right-wing Social
Democrats (PSD), got 29% while the Left bloc got 10%.
Turnout was record low, 54.5%. Last year's newcomer, the
Green Party People, Animals and Nature (PAN) made a good
choice - from 1 to 4 seats. Prime Minister Costa declared a
few days after the election that he will form a minority
government and therefore should not seek formal support from
the left. Instead, he will seek support from different
parties on various issues.
In the May 26 European Parliament elections, the ruling
Socialist Party won 35.9% of the vote (9 seats), while the
Social Democrats ended up at 23.6% (6 seats). The left bloc
ended at 10.6% (2 seats), the Democratic unity coalition got
7.4% (2 seats), CDS-PP got 6.5% (1 seat) and People, Animals
and Nature (PAN) got 5.5% (1 mandate). The turnout was low,
not even 31%.
After the parliamentary elections in October, it became
clear that Swedish pensioners in Portugal can no longer
escape tax on their private occupational pension. The size
is not yet determined, but it will not be retroactive.
According to the Swedish Minister of Finance, the Swedish
government will try to introduce the tax from 1 January 2020
- in the hope that the Portuguese will do the same.
In February, a declaration of mistrust was directed at
António Costa and his government because of the many strikes
that hit the country. During the past crisis years, the
salaries of civil servants had been frozen, including for
teachers who now demanded salary increases retroactively.
Costa managed the distrust with 115 votes to 103.
Since the political crisis started in Venezuela in 2016,
some 10,000 Venezuelans have returned to their roots in
Portugal. Of these, a third have settled in the city of
Estarreja, just south of Porto.
In March, Portugal signed an agreement with Greece to
receive 1,000 refugees and asylum seekers. In the same
month, 100 refugees from Greek camps came to Portugal. In
April, and also in August, the country was one of four – six
that offered to receive refugees from the Italian island of
Lampedusa and which Italy refused to accept. In August,
Portugal and 13 other EU countries supported a new
"solidarity mechanism" in migration policy on the initiative
of Germany and France. The idea was that migrants coming to
the EU should be distributed among the member states.
Exactly how it should go was unclear.
In April, 29 people died on the island of Madeira after a
tourist bus carrying more than 50 passengers crashed into a
ravine. All the dead were German citizens in their 40-50s.
During the summer, Portugal was devastated by severe
forest fires, especially in July north of the capital
Lisbon, in the same area that was severely devastated in
2017 and when dozens of people perished. More than 1,700
rescue workers and 400 fire trucks participated in the
extinguishing work. About 20 people were injured, including