In its V congress, which runs from Friday to Sunday in Carcavelos, Cascais municipality, SEDES – Association for Economic and Social Development presents proposals for the economic and social development of the country in the next decade, “and the communities include in this context, “said to Lusa Christine de Oliveira, rapporteur of the working group dedicated to the themes of emigration.
The purpose of this proposal, which is not closed, is to stimulate “civic thought and participation, a public opinion in general” and to serve as a “provocation to political parties”, so that you can be inspired by them and build your programs “in for a better Portugal”, explained the rapporteur.
SEDES considers that Portuguese communities represent “a potential of undeniable importance that cannot and should not continue to be untapped and even ignored by Portugal”, reads the document that it presents as proposals.
Defending that Portugal is a country spread across the world, with more than five million people living outside the country, and that this should be understood as an opportunity and an advantage, SEDES proposes a set of reforms and changes in the way the administration Portuguese public relations with non-foreign resident Portuguese.
One of the areas addressed is the political participation of Portuguese residents abroad, which currently registers “a very high abstention (…) in the order of 80 to 90%”, said Christine de Oliveira.
The rapporteur says that there are a number of reasons for this departure, namely the fact that “the electoral results of the Portuguese residing abroad are only counted many times after the government itself has taken office, which completely devalues this participation”.
In addition, the representation of communities in the Assembly of the Republic “is much lower than the size of the diaspora at the moment”, so SEDES defends an increase in the number of deputies elected by emigration circles, which currently are four, two by the circle of Europe and two for the circle Outside Europe, and propose that they come from the circles for which they are applying, and must reside abroad.
To avoid that “there are those who want to vote and are not able to”, another rapporteur, Fernando Corvelo, defended in the presentation of the proposals that the ideal would be the implementation of electronic voting, which he admitted is difficult, not for technical reasons, but for political reasons.
SEDES therefore proposes to improve postal voting procedures, assess the extension of the right to vote to emigrants in municipal assessments and consider the possibility that the holder of the portfolio of the Portuguese Communities may also come from the Portuguese communities.
The “chaotic and difficult state” in which a consular network is and which “was greatly aggravated by the pandemic” is another theme of SEDES’ proposals, said Fernando Corvelo.
The decentralization of the consular network through the commitment to consular permanence, which makes it possible to take services to communities farther away from the centers, the reinforcement of the network in terms of both human and material resources or the simplification of administrative acts are some of the proposals in this chapter.
SEDES also proposes to strengthen the Council of Portuguese Communities through an increase in its annual budget and the creation of a headquarters for its operation, and it is necessary to create a Portuguese-elected platform that allows the identification of a full extension of this network at the level worldwide.
“There are more and more people elected in the host countries of Portuguese origin. In France there are now about 6,000 and they are getting organized”, said Christine de Oliveira.
Another proposal is the creation of a platform for “value Portuguese” abroad, which can “create bridges of connection between the Portuguese in the world, namely favoring the transfer of knowledge, partnerships for investment”, including between micro and small companies.
Corvelo also defends, as “essential conditions” to guarantee the investment of communities in Portugal, through the creation of conditions so that the Portuguese who reside outside Portugal do not feel discriminated against in their relationship with the fiscal machine, which passes for “a a model that facilitates the relationship between investors and finances, reducing delays and the tax burden”.