Goodbye to one president – and hello to his successor. That is what Portugal is preparing to say on the eve of a ceremony to hand over power. The outgoing and incoming leaders met for lunch ahead of the big occasion that will mark the end of a decade at the helm for Socialist Jorge Sampaio. The man stepping into his shoes may be from a different political background but, judging from the comments of centre-right newcomer Anibal Cavaco Silva,the pair have been getting on famously.
“We have a highly cordial relationship and the transition of power has taken place in a very easy-going atmosphere,” he said. “I must thank President Sampaio for creating the conditions so that everything is taking place in the best possible way.” His first-round victory in January’s presidential poll guaranteed Cavaco Silva a place in the history books. A former prime minister, he will be the first centre-right politician to take on the largely ceremonial post of Portuguese president since the 1974 revolution. All eyes now are on how much he and Portugal’s Socialist government will be able to work together.