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Miguel Silva Gouveia – A Moment’s Reflection

Former Mayor of Funchal, Miguel Silva Gouveia recent biblical social media outburst comes as a reflection of “40 days and 40 nights” after the local authority elections, when he was ousted by Pedro Calado.

Without mentioning names, Gouveia seems clear when levelling criticisms attributed to him. Although not mentioned by name, the ex-Mayors comments could be construed as referring obliquely to Paulo Cafôfo and Miguel Iglésias, as during his 40 days and 40 nights in the wilderness he has undergone “many individual and collective trials” and feels isolated. “This period of quarantine brought me to a sudden social distancing from some with whom I shared a journey,” writes Gouveia. And he admits that he was condemned to “a partisan sanitary cord,” perhaps to avoid the self-criticism of others as they preferred to lay all the criticisms of failure at his door.

Miguel Silva Gouveia then resorts to irony and identifies all his ‘guilts’ in the electoral defeat. “I was guilty of campaigning within the legal rules. I was guilty of not accepting money from any entity with economic interests in the city. I was guilty of not attacking opponents while maintaining elevation and urbanity. I was guilty of proposing a serious and responsible programme, based on municipal competences. I was guilty of trying to break with addictions and bad procedural habits.”

He adds to these ‘failings’ a list of others: “I was guilty of building a team of independents, outside the usual political spectrum, with their own professional careers and with established credits in their areas. I was guilty of trying to break governance for the next election, planning a city for the long term and sticking to it. I was guilty of giving equal opportunity to all suppliers. I was guilty of not hesitating to say “it’s not possible” when it wasn’t possible. I was guilty of not avoiding difficult decisions. I was guilty of wanting to win elections without losing Funchal. I was guilty of not offering an electoral victory to so many careers that depended on it. I was guilty of not turning my back on all those who trusted me.”

After enumerating these faults, Gouveia concludes: “I am the only one to blame, but I maintain my loyalty, recognition and gratitude to this city of Funchal, which I continue to love.”

Gouveia goes back to the biblical passages to remember that it will only be possible to leave the desert when blame is no longer attributed to others. And more: when “we do not passively wait for a saviour to make our way.”

The last lines serve to quote Nelson Mandela and acknowledge that he is living in times of learning:
“As Nelson Mandela once said: “I never lose. Either I earn or I learn. In these last 40 days I have learned a lot,” concludes Miguel Silva Gouveia.

One must also remember that he had to run the campaign with a virtually new team, as he had managed to fall out with most of his original election campaigners! Also, the results showed that although he had maintained his electoral appeal, he had not managed to attract a large number of new voters.

Samantha Gannon

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