State Council debates possible emergency declaration

Council of State, the political consultation body of the President of the Republic, meets today to discuss the decision to decree a state of emergency in Portugal due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The meeting takes place during the morning, by videoconference, with the President of the Republic, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, in the Palace of Belém, where he spent the night, after having been in voluntary quarantine at his home in Cascais for 14 days.

The conclusions will be published on the Presidency of the Republic’s website and, in the late afternoon or early evening, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa will make a statement to the country.

“Declaring a state of siege or a state of emergency” is one of the President’s specific powers, as provided for in article 138 of the Constitution of the Portuguese Republic. If Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa decides to declare a state of emergency, he will have to listen to the Government and submit a request for authorization to the Assembly of the Republic, which authorizes or refuses, through a resolution.

Today, the plenary session of the Assembly of the Republic, scheduled for 16:00, left an open point for the possibility of having to debate the President’s decree declaring a national emergency.

The agenda of the plenary of the parliament also includes the debate on a Government proposal with measures to contain the effects of the pandemic, which were approved by the council of ministers last week.

The state of emergency can only be decreed for 15 days, renewable for equal periods. During the time it is in effect, partial suspension of the exercise of rights, freedoms and guarantees can be determined, providing, “if necessary, the strengthening of the powers of the civil administrative authorities and support for them by the Armed Forces” .

It was the Prime Minister, António Costa, who announced last Sunday that a Council of State would be convened to analyze that possibility, in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, at a time when nearly 450 people are infected with the new coronavirus, with a dead person.

António Costa has already said that he is not opposed to the declaration of a state of emergency, which never existed in Portugal, but expressed doubts, considering that the measures must be taken according to needs and that he sees no reason to, for example, limit freedoms. meeting or expression.

Among the parties, which are generally not opposed, the PCP considered it premature and did not anticipate the vote in the face of the decree that, if it comes, will enter the Assembly of the Republic.

Today’s plenary will already work with new rules, decided to avoid contagion, with a minimum of 46 deputies expected in the debates. At the time of voting, half plus one of the total number of deputies, 116.

According to the law, the declaration of a state of emergency will contain “clearly and expressly” the “characterization and justification of the declared state”, its territorial scope, duration, “specification of rights, freedoms and guarantees whose exercise is suspended or restricted” , the determination “of the degree of strengthening of the powers of the civil administrative authorities and of the support to them by the Armed Forces, if applicable”.

The coronavirus responsible for the Covid-19 pandemic infected more than 180,000 people, of whom more than 7,000 died.

In Portugal, the Directorate-General for Health (DGS) today raised the number of confirmed cases of infection to 448, 117 more than on Monday, the day on which the first death occurred in the country.

From Diário Notícias