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Portugal Political Crisis: Minority Governments Don't Rule

Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho during Parliamentary debate Monday
Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho during Parliamentary debate Monday

LISBONPortugal is relearning one of the basic tenets of democracy: Majority rules.

The country's four left-leaning parties are expected to bring down the minority center-right government of Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho with a vote of no-confidence on Tuesday, newspaper Diário de Notícias reports.

The center-right coalition that has been governing since 2011 scored only 38.5% in the Oct. 4 general election, failing to secure a majority, even if Passos Coelho's party scored the single highest vote tally.

But when the four left-leaning parties, led by the Socialist Party of António Costa, proposed a majority government, President of the Republic Cavaco Silva unexpectedly refused to allow the coalition (which combined score was 50.7%) to rule, arguing that their commitment to reverse austerity policies, as well as the anti-Euro and anti-NATO stances of the Communist and Left Bloc parties, were a threat to the country's stability. Instead, he decided to grant Passos Coelho, 51, a second term, and a minority government.

But now that this short-lived experiment in minority government is crumbling, what's next? New elections are not an option in the near future: The Portuguese Constitution doesn't allow the President to dissolve a Parliament in its first six months, meaning months of great political and economic instability lie ahead — unless the left parties manage to convince Silva this time around to take a chance on a majority.

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Look At This Crap! The "Enshittification" Theory Of Why The Internet Is Broken

The term was coined by journalist Cory Doctorow to explain the fatal drift of major Internet platforms: if they were ever useful and user-friendly, they will inevitably end up being odious.

A photo of hands holding onto a smartphone

A person holding their smartphone

Gilles Lambert/ZUMA
Manuel Ligero


The universe tends toward chaos. Ultimately, everything degenerates. These immutable laws are even more true of the Internet.

In the case of media platforms, everything you once thought was a good service will, sooner or later, disgust you. This trend has been given a name: enshittification. The term was coined by Canadian blogger and journalist Cory Doctorow to explain the inevitable drift of technological giants toward... well.

The explanation is in line with the most basic tenets of Marxism. All digital companies have investors (essentially the bourgeoisie, people who don't perform any work and take the lion's share of the profits), and these investors want to see the percentage of their gains grow year after year. This pushes companies to make decisions that affect the service they provide to their customers. Although they don't do it unwillingly, quite the opposite.

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Annoying customers is just another part of the business plan. Look at Netflix, for example. The streaming giant has long been riddling how to monetize shared Netflix accounts. Option 1: adding a premium option to its regular price. Next, it asked for verification through text messages. After that, it considered raising the total subscription price. It also mulled adding advertising to the mix, and so on. These endless maneuvers irritated its audience, even as the company has been unable to decide which way it wants to go. So, slowly but surely, we see it drifting toward enshittification.

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