A regional election is being held on the island(s) today to determine the composition of the Legislative Assembly of the Autonomous Region of Madeira. The election will be the first in which the President of the Region since 1978, Alberto João Jardim (above), will not have his name on the ballot paper, as he had already stated that he would step down as President and leader of PSD-Madeira in January this year. PSD-M subsequently elected Miguel Albuquerque (below) as the new president of the party. After winning that vote, Albuquerque stated that he would not assume the Presidency of the Government without an election – thus today’s vote.
PSD-M currently hold 25 of the 47 seats, giving them an outright majority since the last elections in 2011. More than 256,000 residents are registered to vote for one of eight different parties and three coalitions, with campaigning stopping on Friday and yesterday being officially a day of rest – which the PSD-M were accused of not observing after a fresh poster appeared on their headquarters. PSD-M have a clear lead in the opinion polls (one is detailed in a previous blog), but there remains some doubt whether they will hang on to their outright majority.
Whatever happens today it will mark the end of the remarkable career of the “King” of Madeira, who has overseen seismic change on the islands. Whatever your opinion on his political methods it cannot be disputed that he has consistently attracted huge amounts of investment to Madeira (and Porto Santo to a lesser extent), firstly from mainland Portugal, and subsequently from European funds. Whether all of this money has ended up being invested honestly and wisely is another matter, and he stands down at a time when the island is deeply in debt and a lot of the later infrastructure projects remain incomplete.
Miguel Albuquerque has become President of Madeira after retaining the narrowest of overall majorities – 24 of the 47 seats. He was Mayor of Funchal from 1994 – 2013 when he stood down after disagreements with Alberto João Jardim over financial transfers between the regional government and the city council. Formerly a lawyer, he is a lover of jazz music and apparently passionate about his roses.