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Political Turmoil in Madeira: A Deep Dive into the 2024 Crisis

Madeira’s political stability was abruptly disrupted by a crisis that unfolded in early 2024. The region faced unprecedented challenges as the president of the XIV Governo Regional da Madeira, Miguel Albuquerque, stepped down amid allegations of corruption, triggering a chain of events that led to a political and criminal investigation.

The Resignation of Miguel Albuquerque:

The crisis began when the representative of the Republic, Ireneu Barreto, accepted the formal request for the resignation of Miguel Albuquerque. The president, who had been at the helm since 2015, faced serious allegations related to corruption. The decree of his resignation took effect immediately upon its publication, plunging the regional government into a state of transition and uncertainty.

Investigation and Arrests:

The allegations that led to the crisis were part of a broader investigation conducted by the Pol├şcia Judici├íria (PJ). In late January, approximately 130 searches were carried out across Madeira, the Azores, and various mainland locations. The charges included corruption, active and passive, participation in economic transactions, prevarication, inappropriate receipt or offer of advantages, abuse of power, and influence trafficking.

Among those implicated in the investigation were not only political figures but also prominent business leaders. The then-president of the C├ómara do Funchal, Pedro Calado, and key figures from major construction companies, including AFA’s Avelino Farinha and Socicorreia’s Cust├│dio Correia, were arrested. The widespread scope of the investigation indicated the gravity of the allegations and the potential impact on various sectors of society.

Exoneration and Government Transition:

Following the legal procedures triggered by the investigations, Miguel Albuquerque’s exoneration marked the beginning of a transitional phase. The parliamentary majority parties, including the Social Democratic Party (PSD) and the Popular Party (CDS-PP), urged the appointment of a new leader to avoid early elections. They argued that the existing parliamentary support could legitimize a new regional government without resorting to elections.

The Role of the Representative of the Republic:

As the political landscape shifted, Ireneu Barreto, the representative of the Republic, played a crucial role in navigating the crisis. He initiated a series of hearings with political parties represented in the Madeiran parliament. The order of the hearings followed the increasing order of parliamentary representation, starting with the Left Bloc (BE), followed by the People-Animals-Nature (PAN) party and the Liberal Initiative (IL). Subsequent hearings with the Communist Party (PCP), CDS-PP, Chega, and Juntos pelo Povo (JPP) were scheduled for the following day.

The Future: Government Formation or Early Elections?

The outcome of the crisis remains uncertain pending decisions from the representative of the Republic. The possibilities include accepting the majority parties’ proposal for a new regional government or maintaining a caretaker government until March 24. After this date, the President of the Republic can dissolve the regional parliament and call for early elections, a demand advocated by the opposition in Madeira.

Conclusion:

The political and criminal crisis in Madeira has laid bare the fragility of the region’s governance and sparked debates about its future. The allegations of corruption, arrests of key figures, and the subsequent resignation of the regional president have created an atmosphere of uncertainty. As the representative of the Republic navigates through hearings and decisions, the people of Madeira await the resolution of this crisis that has tested the resilience of their political institutions.

Tim├│teo Correia

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