Por Paulo Porto
The elections for the Assembly of the Portuguese Republic, occurs every four years, being that the next elections will happen on October 5th and 6th of 2019. During this election 230 members of the parliament will be elected, throughout twenty-two constituencies (Lisbon, Porto, Braga, Aveiro, etc.). Four of these constituencies being the emigration constituencies namely two for Europe (France, Germany, Spain, etc.) and two outside Europe (Brazil, Venezuela, Australia, China, South Africa, United States, etc.).
To better explain, according to the Parliament website (www.parlamento.pt) these are the powers of the Members of the parliament:
“To submit draft amendments to the Constitution; submit Member’s bills, draft Rules of Procedure, draft resolutions, particularly in relation to referenda, and draft decisions, and to request that they be scheduled for debate; take part and speak in parliamentary debates; to question the Government about any of its acts or those of the Public Administration, save only the legal provisions concerning state secrets; to request and obtain the elements, information and official publications they deem useful to the exercise of their mandate from the Government or the organs of any public entity; to move the formation of parliamentary committees of inquiry; to submit draft amendments to legislative initiatives under consideration; to move that executive laws be considered with a view to their ceasing to be in force or their amendment; to move the emergency consideration of any initiative; to make motions of no confidence in the Government; to take part in discussion and voting; to propose the formation of ad hoc parliamentary committees; to propose the holding of parliamentary hearings; to ask the Constitutional Court to perform prior or subsequent reviews of the constitutionality and legality of rules.”
With the recent changes to the electoral legislation, approved by the Republic Assembly, and through the efforts of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Internal Administration, a new electoral census was performed electronically. According to the new census the number of voters residing outside of Portugal is around 1,431,000.
Regarding the voting act, the citizens who did not opt to vote in person until august 6th 2019, the Ministry of Internal Administration will mail to the voter’s address two envelopes (one green and one white) and a voting slip.
In the voting slip received through the mail, the voter should mark with an X the option containing his/her candidate. After marking the candidate of choice, the voting slip should be folded in four parts, placed inside the green envelope and sealed. The sealed green envelope should be placed inside the white envelope with a copy of proof of Portuguese citizenship, such as, “cartão de cidadão or bilhete de identidade”. After the green envelope and the proof of citizenship are inside the white prepaid returning envelope, it should be sealed and mailed before the election day.
Another important change regarding the legislative alteration, is that now a holder of dual citizenship can run for a position as a member of the parliament in his/her country of residency. For example, a Portuguese citizen born in Brazil, Venezuela, South Africa, Canada, or any other country outside the European constituency can run for a position as a member of the parliament. Without a doubt this allow Portuguese citizens living outside Europe the opportunity to have representation in Portugal and be an active part of the politics in Portugal. After all, a Portuguese citizen should have the same rights regardless of birthplace.
Por Paulo Porto Fernandes
Advogado, inscrito na Ordem dos Advogados do Brasil e Ordem dos Advogados Portugueses. Candidato do PS à Assembleia da República pelo Círculo fora da Europa.