Political earthquake in Portugal with important aftershocks in European socialism. Antonio Costa, Prime Minister of Portugal since 2015resigned this Tuesday after the Attorney General of the Republic (the Portuguese equivalent of the State Attorney General’s Office) made public the investigation that has been opened against him for a corruption case in which the alleged crimes of prevarication, active and passive corruption and influence peddling in the award of several lithium and green hydrogen businesses.
Everything exploded on Tuesday morning, when the Portuguese police arrested two people he trusted most: his own chief of staff, Vítor Escáriaand the businessman and friend of the prime minister Diogo Marceda. This police operation, justified by the Prosecutor’s Office “to avoid the risk of flight” and so that they do not interfere with the investigation, occurred at the same time that 42 records in many other homes, institutions and companies, including the official residence of the prime minister and the Ministries of Infrastructure and Environment. The police also arrested the mayor of Sinesthe socialist Nuno Mascarenhas, and two other businessmen.
After learning of the arrests, Antonio Costa held a first meeting with the president of the Republic, the conservative Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa. But after the note from the Attorney General’s Office informing that the Supreme Court (TS) had opened a separate piece to investigate the prime minister, Costa met again with Rebelo de Sousa and already presented him with his own resignation.
As it became known yesterday, the Portuguese Supreme Court has opened a separate investigation to investigate Costa’s possible involvement in promoting businesses related to the energy transition. The investigation began at the end of 2019 and, according to the Prosecutor’s Office note, several interrogated people have cited in their statements the alleged intervention of the prime minister to “unblock procedures” in favor of certain companies.
After officially announcing his resignation, Costa appeared before journalists to explain that he is leaving his position “with a clear conscience.” Even so, he justified his departure because he considers that his position “is not compatible with the suspicion of the practice of any criminal act” and “to preserve the dignity of democratic institutions.”