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Well roared, lion!

In the autumn, a new president of the local council will be elected in my village. It’s now seven years (4+3) since the opposition withdrew into its cave to sleep. It has woken up, bang on time for election year. I never thought that their hibernation would come to an end. Whoever is in charge of a village has no easy task with an opposition that misses everything through oversleeping. When I heard that the plan was to read the president the riot act, I decided to visit the Assembleia Municipal (municipal assembly)

Casa do povo de Monchique
Casa do Povo de Monchique / Fotografia – Carlos Abafa

The room in the town hall is jam packed. At 21.30, there are eight Socialists (PS), one Communist (CDU) and one independent (MI) sitting face to face with the seven Social Democrats (PSD), who are supposed to protect the president (PSD), the executive. In the local council, the Social-Democrat president is dependent on cooperation with the Socialists, which does not mean that he cooperates. And that’s why there’s a lot of unrest in the legislative, because elections are in the offing.

The leader of the Socialist group stands up and reads from a six-page document that, for this and that reason, “the eight elected members from the Socialist Party, the Communists and the Independents (MI) each with one seat in the municipal council, express their lack of confidence in the executive, the president (PSD).” The president was a populist and demagogue, he continued, and his incompetent administration was hypocritical, politically biased and inconsistent. “Now, after a lot of promises over seven years, we are looking at NOTHING!” The president stands up, makes a personal statement and leaves the room. What a poor dramatic performance!

I’ve been working for more than 25 years in the region and have been studying the identity of an area that urgently needs to be revived in a sustainable manner. Much of what the opposition expressed that evening in their vote of no confidence is a reality. In seven years, the population has declined further. Young people are moving from the village to the towns to look for work there. The rural economy is withering away more and more. Forest fires do the rest. The president had made many promises and kept few of them, they said. This discussion reminds me a little of a kindergarten. I’m not going to play with you anymore because you did(n’t) do this or that. Isn’t there a more constructive way?

The problems, especially the cultural and social impoverishment, that we face daily, deserve elected politicians who only promise what they can deliver and a fresh opposition in every respect that monitors what is going on. It makes no sense to overwhelm the president with reproaches and then to have no plan yourself. Opposition that wants to be in charge only works if you present better ideas, instead of just sticking your fingers in the wounds. After seven years of hibernation, the lion gets ready to leap with a roar and lands … as a bedside rug. The president drives home in a sulk. The meeting is over.

What a lot of nonsense in a village of which half is in ruins! When will you politicians finally start together to restore the Casa do Povo and to create the economic basis so that young people can get training places in the village?

About the author

Uwe Heitkamp, 53 years old, started working after university in daily newspapers and from 1984 on in public tv broadcasting companies such as WDR (Collogne), NDR (Hamburg), SDR (Stuttgart/Baden-Baden) in the ARD (first programme), wrote several books and directed the cinema movie about the anti nuclear movement in Germany in 1986 (Wackersdorf). After emigration in 1990 he founded 1995 the trilingual weekly printed newspaper “Algarve123”  and later the online edition www.algarve123.com. Heitkamp lives for 25 year in Monchique, Portugal. He loves mountain hiking and swimming in streams and lakes, writes and tells stories of success from people and their sustainable relationship between ecology and economy. His actual film “Revolutionary Roads” tells the 60 minute story of a long walk crossing Portugal. 10 rural people paint a picture of their lives in the hills of the serra and the hinterland. The film captures profound impressions of natural beauty and human life. Along which path is the future of Portugal to be found? (subscribe to ECO123 und watch the documentary in the Mediatec)


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