The leaders of two of the three candidate lists for Sunday’s Council of Portuguese Communities (CCP) elections in the United Kingdom and Ireland called for the ballot to be challenged, alleging irregularities by other competing lists.
Jorge Sabo from the “Unity for the Future” list and Pedro Xavier from the “For Change” list submitted complaints to the National Electoral Commission (CNE) on Monday.
One of the issues raised is that Antonio Cunha, head of the “Independence Platform” list, is running for a fourth term, which would be barred by a new law regulating the CCP that came into effect this August. It limits the number of advisers to three consecutive terms.
Szabo and Xavier raised suspicions of other irregularities, such as the intervention of Cunha and another candidate on the same list, affecting voters less than 500 meters from the embassy, which could be propaganda.
Contacted by Luza, Antonio Cunha said he was “501%” sure the law would not have precedential effects because the law was discussed in the CCP Permanent Council before and after it was approved.
“The countdown begins now. I can apply two more times,” he assured.
In response to Luza, the CNE clarified that “the law does not provide for the intervention of the CNE in this situation, but rather provides a specific procedure, the Secretary of State for the Portuguese Communities is responsible for verifying the regularity of the decrees. After the opinion of the elected members, the ambassador of the country where the seat of the respective electoral district is located”.
“The notice of disqualification, following the regulatory verification of the orders described above, determines the loss of the order,” he added.
Antonio Cunha, who has faced allegations of other irregularities, has denied campaigning or influencing voters on election day.
“Yes, I spoke to people and congratulated them, because I am well-mannered, but I never campaigned”, he insisted, speaking to Lusa.
The leader of the “Plataforma Independente” list said that part of the complaints were the result of “racism, pure racism” due to the naturalization of Portuguese people.
“I am very satisfied as I have selected a good team. Now I am thinking about working for the society,” he concluded.
In total, 178,756 voters were registered to vote to elect six councilors in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland. The community in the United Kingdom is estimated to be around 400 thousand Portuguese.
Voting took place at consulates in London and Manchester, the Portuguese Embassy in Dublin and the Honorary Consulate of Portugal in St Helier, Jersey.
According to the results reported to the lists, but not yet officially published, the “Independent Platform” list received 423 out of 577 valid votes, electing five candidates, the “For Change” list elected one candidate (110 votes) and the “Unir” for the Future” elected no candidate (44 votes).
The CCP is the government’s advisory body for policies related to immigration and Portuguese communities abroad.
The maximum number of advisors has increased from 80 to 90, as has the number of circles (from 50 to 52) and gender parity has increased to 50%.
The new law stipulates that the CCP, as a government advisory body, has a duty to be heard on executive initiatives concerning immigrants, although its positions are not binding.
Counselors begin to participate in the work of the Assembly of the Republic, including parliamentary committees dealing with matters related to Portuguese communities, particularly under mandatory consultation.
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