CDS/Enough debate. Half an hour of offenses and totally separate waters

Twenty-five minutes of insults and that’s all. This Wednesday, on CNN Portugal, was the debate between the leaders of the CDS-PP, Francisco Rodrigues dos Santos, and of Chega, André Ventura – the most aggressive face-to-face of all that has ever happened.

The two arrived at the studio armed with a wide range of offenses to shoot at each other. Ventura invented a name for the CDS-PP – “the sissy right” – and repeated it over and over again. But he did so by adding other expressions, directed both against the centrist leader and against his party: “unprepared boy”, “weather party”, “the right that doesn’t matter”.

Francisco Rodrigues dos Santos, on the other hand, was more varied in the epithets he addressed to the leader of Chega and his party. A “king of swagger” who is “completely swamped by cases of corruption”, “chronic populist”, “racist”, author of an electoral program that is “a stream of gibberish”. A phrase echoed, which the CDS-PP leader would use in the debate and then repeat to journalists outside: “A cavalry squadron paraded in the head of André Ventura does not come up against a single idea.”

Knowing that there are risks of the CDS-PP losing votes to Chega, Francisco Rodrigues dos Santos arrived at the debate strongly committed to establishing a maximum contrast between the two parties – which, after all, are even ideologically neighbors.

He placed his party as the legitimate representative of Portuguese Catholics, affirmed it firmly within democracy, assured that he had nothing against refugees coming to Portugal (on the contrary, he even said that they were necessary, availability to which Ventura would respond with a “mete them in your house”).

And just as the CDS-PP’s position affirmed, it also tried to characterize Chega as a “swindle”, denigrated Ventura’s leadership (“the Azorean regional deputies of Chega treat him as an incomputable person”), laughed at his much proclaimed Catholicism (“he wrote that it is the fourth little shepherd of Fatima, it’s ridiculous”).

Ventura also sought to denigrate Francisco Rodrigues dos Santos personally, recalling that the leader of the CDS-PP did not accept to put his leadership to the vote against Nuno Melo and completely eradicated the party’s parliamentary group. “The CDS of Paulo Portas would be ashamed of this CDS of Francisco Rodrigues dos Santos”, he would still accuse.

His effort to steal votes from the CDS-PP also included remembering that one day the party ruled in alliance with the PS – something that happened in 1978 – and that, in this legislature, by his count, he voted with the PS almost 1800 times in Parliament (To this argument, Francisco Rodrigues dos Santos would respond that Chega let two thirds of the extreme left’s proposals pass, and, in local power, the mayors of Ventura’s party have already made PCP governance possible, as he accused).

Ventura, when asked, would also clarify that he will only make an agreement with the PSD if this includes Enough militants in the Government – if that does not happen, the social-democratic proposals will be seen “on a case by case”. Francisco Rodrigues dos Santos, on the other hand, would guarantee that the CDS-PP will only have an agreement with the PSD “if euthanasia [de que Rio é a favor] do not advance”.

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