Sunday Open Thread
by Robert Cruickshank
Back in the USA after two wonderful weeks in Portugal. There was a fair bit of HSR news while I was over there – the ruling Socialist Party made the surprising announcement that the final decision to move ahead with the planned HSR line to connect Lisboa to Madrid was going to be postponed until 2010, after this year’s legislative elections. The PS and its prime minister, José Sócrates, are worried about losing to the rival Social Democrats (PSD), who are not exactly strong supporters of the line even though Portugal and Spain have signed agreements to build it, and even though the EU has already planned to contribute financially to the project.
The PS wants to make the PSD look uninterested in solving the economic crisis, and Sócrates seems to think that making an election issue out of the HSR project would give his party a boost, as the proposal is generally popular with the public, and Portugal doesn’t have to foot the entire bill. But the nakedly political ploy could well backfire. The EU was not pleased with the postponement, and Portugal’s president, Aníbal Cavaco Silva (of the PSD), had to step in to ease concerns and promised that the project would still go forward. News reports spun it as a sign of weakness on the part of Sócrates and the PS.
So we will see what happens. I’m still getting over jet lag, so use this as an open thread. Tomorrow I’ll be back to discuss our own HSR project here in California.