Lisbon this week woke up to a financial scandal…another one. The latest craze here is to open up private Foundations with Public Funds and to fill them with friends. Some “friends” even occupy positions in several Foundations. What a civilised idea! The storm of last weekend left a fifth of the population (2 million people) without electricity for two days and hundreds of thousands with no water for a week. However, this is nothing compared with last year’s stork attack. A stork…you know, the bird with a long beak. Half the country lost its electricity supply for a night because a stork hit an electricity line and short-circuited the system. At least, that was the excuse given by the electricity supply company. We are not told whether the stork survived the ordeal. Lisbon sets into Christmas mode but this Christmas it is also election mode because on January 14th, Portugal will elect a new President. Jorge Sampaio (Socialist) will almost certainly be re-elected but there are other candidates – three expected and one unexpected. In the first group we have Ferreira do Amaral (Social democrats, largest opposition party), Antonio Abreu (Communist Party), Fernando Rosas (Left Block…no we don’t know what they are, either, and suspect that they don’t too) and also Garcia Pereira (Communist Workers, if he manages to get 7,500 signatures by midnight tonight…he is frantically running around Lisbon right now with the papers in his hand). The unexpected one is a colourful character called Manuel Vieira, who congratulates George Bush on being “the first illiterate to win the US elections” and is bringing his electoral registration of 7,500 signatures to Lisbon on a donkey “to pollute the land and not the air”. His election slogan is the best of all: “I will only give up if I win”

Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey Pravda.Ru Lisbon

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