PANAJI: The rise of Antonio Costa as the Prime Minister of Portugal was possible because Portugal today is by and large a very accepting society not prone to racism even though in conservative segments, the Costa has been written off and considered a “monhé” a racial slur used by the Portuguese on Mozambicans, Edgar Valles, a Goan writer in Portugal has said.
Valles, was delivering a lecture on the first prime minister of Goan origin in a Western country: The present and the future of Portugal organised by the Indo-Portuguese friendship society.
“Portugal is a very accepting society and is very tolerant towards ethnic and other minorities, unlike say Britain, where they are very polite on the face, but there is a lot of racism,” Valles said.
“It is the British who were more famous for equating the natives with dogs, but no one asks the British for an apology,” Valles said.
He however added that not many conservatives have given Costa a chance given his team besides including a black from Mozambique who is the minister of law, and two secretaries of state, one of whom is blind and another a gypsy.
Valles is himself a member of the Partido Social or Portuguese Socialist Party, of which Costa is the leader.
It is well known and accepted fact in Portugal that its prime minister is of Asian roots, specifically Goan roots.
Costa came to power with the support of other left parties after the right wing parties, though being the single largest coalition didn’t have the majority in the house and has promised to reduce the austerity measures while continuing with benefits for the weaker sections of society.
“Portugal went down the road to economic ruin after it invested wastefully in building infrastructure like stadia and highways, some of which were unnecessary,” Valles said adding that it was the unpopular austerity measures which were imposed by the right wing parties that resulted in their defeat.
“The right wing imposed austerity more than what was asked of them by the troika of the European Union. They crawled when asked to bend,” he said.
Even today political instability could return to Portugal if the extreme left parties withdraw support to Costa’s Socialist Party government. “There is talk that Costa deliberately forced elections when his popularity is high to ensure that he gets a full majority,” Valles said.