Thursday, October 20, 2011


Definition from Wikipedia: "Nepotism is favoritism granted to relatives or friends regardless of merit.[1] The word nepotism is from the Latin word neposnepotis (m. "nephew"), from which modern Romanian nepot and Italiannipote, "nephew" or "grandchild" are also descended."

The amount of nepotism is astounding.   It is an integral part of Portuguese society.  Favoritism and corruption abound and perhaps the political class is the worst.

I know people who vote for the Communists - not because they are religious and believe (communism is a religion!), but because they supposedly are the only honest people around.  Leftwing BE and rightwing CDS-PP probably have a few honest people as well.

Basically, Portugal has a two party system:  PS and PSD.  They call themselves socialists and social democrats - which does raise some confusion as they are neither.

Traditionally, Portugal is a class based system - much like England.  There is some mobility between classes but not much.  The biggest exception being a growing educated middle class.   What you do, where you live, your family, your friends and the manner you speak quite clearly identifies your class.

One of the aims of the political class is to keep the status quo as much as possible.  To give you an example:  In thirty years the miserable minimum salary has only risen 88 Euros since 1974.  The minimum pension only 36 euros.  The minimum salary is currently a bit below 500 Euros.  Half of all Portuguese have this income or less.   To live in Lisbon on a minimum salary is IMHO not possible.  Living costs here are on level with Western European countries. 

Another example is the acquisition of housing.  When buying a house or apartment the buyer pays a transfer tax of around 10%.  The seller may have to pay tax on profits on the sale, if it is not his primary home.  The official price also may have some effect on house taxation.   What people with money do - is to pay for the house in cash.  Officially a very low price is declared.   Result:  No or very little tax...

Now, politicians in Portugal have a rather low salary.  A common member of parlament only earns around 3800 Euros plus extras.  A minister around 6000 plus extras (I believe).  The president just 7630 plus around 2300 in extras. 

So what attracts the nepotists?  Well, you do get power and power is worth money if you have no scruples.  Here is a link to 15 former politicians and their current salary.   Is it not interesting how many (nearly all?) ex-politicians earn that well after their career as politicians.  In Portugal it even has a name:  "Jobs for the boys".   Qualifications are irrelevant.  Want to manage a hospital? Be on the board of an oil company?  Running an airline is no longer possible - A smart CEO at TAP put a stop to that.  But otherwise, only the imagination is the limit.

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