António Costa, the systemic socialist who went through all the political echelons

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António Costa, lover of puzzles and one of the most highly rated politicians in all of Europe by his voters and respected by his rivals, he faces one of the toughest moments of his career this Tuesday: an investigation for corruption, prevarication and influence peddling that has caused an earthquake in Lisbon. He arrives almost two years after his large and unexpected victory in the January 2022 elections, where the Portuguese people gave him an absolute majority that freed him from the so-called “jeringonza” of his first term, an uncomfortable coalition with three other left-wing formations with certain parallels to the one that Pedro Sánchez maintains in Spain. His resignation has been faster than the downhill journey of the tram that travels from Alfama to Plaza del Comercio.

The former minister of Portugal projects in his figure the mixed and social history of the Portuguese country. His father, born in the Portuguese colony of Mozambique, was the writer Orlando António da Costa, of Indian origin. Her mother was the journalist María Antónia Palla, also known for her feminist activism.

At 62 years old, this jurist who became prime minister in 2015 promising to mitigate the consequences of the Troika’s passage, has been everything in Portuguese politics. One of the most media moments of his career came in 1993, when he ran for mayor of Lourdes. It is a town close to Lisbon but poorly connected at that time, in which returning from work in the capital became a hell of traffic jams due to the lack of a metro stop. Costa set up a race between a Ferrari and a donkey to demonstrate that the donkey arrived earlier while the sports car got mired in the traffic jam.

Throughout his career, Costa has had several collaborators he completely trusts to whom he has professed great loyalty, although some of them created reputation problems. One of them was his chief of staff and right-hand woman, Vítor Escária, arrested this Tuesday. Escária already had to resign from his position in 2017after the Galpgate case, when he and his wife were accused of the trips offered by Galp to the 2016 Euro Cup, a process that resulted in the payment of a fine.

He began his career working at the Lisbon City Council while combining it with his studies at the Catholic University. He spent 11 years there, already active as a socialist, until he got a seat in the Assembly of the Republic. He was part of the Executive as Secretary of State (1995-97) and Minister (1997-99) of Parliamentary Affairs, before becoming Minister of Justice (1999-2002).

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