Court rules euthanasia law unconstitutional again // Housing help package promised
Portuguese news in English on Monday, February 6, 2023.
Court rules euthanasia law unconstitutional again
The Constitutional Court has again declared the government’s attempts to decriminalise medically assisted dying unconstitutional, Público reports. The law in various forms has now been rejected by the court twice, in addition to vetoes from President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa. This time around, the constitutional judges voted 7-6 to reject the law, thanks to the concept of “suffering of great intensity”. They said there was an “intolerable” lack of definition because the text didn’t specify whether the three types of suffering — physical, psychological and spiritual — were to be considered cumulatively or individually. The president sent the bill back to the parliament for further consideration.
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Two dead after overcrowded Lisbon apartment burns
Two people are dead and 14 injured after a fire ripped through an apartment jammed with mattresses and bunks pushed up against the windows to house 22 people, Público reports. Locals weren’t surprised by the tragedy, saying there were many more similar situations nearby and calling for governments to act. One of those who died in the fire was just 14 and all the injured were foreigners, mostly from south Asia, Lusa reports.
Housing help package promised
The fire came as the country’s housing crisis continued. Prime Minister António Costa has promised a package of measures to be announced later this month to address the issue, Público reports. They include incentivising housing construction and making available more public land for housing, as well as incentives to put homes on the rental market and support for young people to find housing. A large number of families are looking to negotiate their home loans in the face of rising interest rates, Público reports, citing one in five new credit operations in December were loan renegotiations, up from 6% in December 2021. Despite new laws, banks are making it hard for some struggling homeowners to restructure their mortgages in the face of soaring interest rates, Público reports.
Pope visit causing more controversy
The fallout from the millions proposed be spent on a stage for the Pope’s visit to Portugal for World Youth Day celebrations continues. Lisbon mayor Carlos Moedas has cut off relations with project group coordinator José Sá Fernandes, declaring he’d take direct control of the event when it came to anything regarding Lisbon City Council, Público reports. Moedas has insisted nothing is locked in regarding another stage in Parque Eduardo VII, but a tender launched in early January puts an estimated cost of €1.8 million on the rental of audiovisual equipment alone, Público reports. The council and organisers are working together to reduce costs and look at “new solution” relating to the locations of the event, Público reports.
Portugal will send Leopard tanks to Ukraine, following Germany and other countries. Prime Minister António Costa said he knew how many of the combat vehicles would be sent but that would be announced later. It follows revelations many of the tanks, bought in 2007, had gone without maintenance for a long period. (Lusa)
CP warns of major train disruptions thanks to strike. The warning applies to all services from February 8 to 17. Ticket holders on the Alfa Pendular, Intercidades, Internacional, InterRegional and Regional services can get refunds or free changes to other trains in the same service and class. (Lusa)
TAP audit to examine renationalisation and years of private management. The Court of Auditors investigation ranges from July 2017 and takes in the last three years of private management under David Neeleman and Humberto Pedrosa.
On a lighter note
Meet Bobi, the oldest dog in the world (or watch the video again if you’ve already seen it). The purebred Rafeiro do Alentejo was born in Leiria in 1992, making him 30 years and more than 270 days old and the Guinness world record holder. But CNN reports (in English) that Leonel Costa’s beloved pet almost never made it more than a few days past birth, hiding in the woodshed when his father decided they had too many animals already. Costa credits the “calm, peaceful environment” Bobi lives in and his taste for human food.