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Tracing Origins Of New Portuguese PM António Costa

A Portuguese socialist leader, Costa became the prime minister after President Anibal Cavaco Silva give the nod to the Socialist, Left Bloc and Green-led coalition to form the government.

Written by Harsha Raj Gatty | Margao,goa | Published: November 27, 2015 1:14:04 am
Born Antonio Luis Santos da Costa, he has spoken of strengthening ties with India in the past. (Source: Reuters) António Costa, Portuguese Prime Minister. (Source: Reuters)

In the narrow road leading to Abade Faria road in Margao, Goa, everybody knows the way to the ancestral house of António Luís Santos da Costa. “Oh, that PM’s house! Take the first left and immediate right. The red house on your left dead end is his house,” says Simon Sequeira.

It also doesn’t matter to them that the new Portuguese PM António Costa hasn’t spent much time here, and that no one really remembers interacting with him. “Baboosh has always been a busy political leader,” explains his 77-year-old aunt Sinnika Jussilainen Costa, of Finnish origin, using the family nickname for Costa. The family home is jointly owned by her family and Costa’s.

A Portuguese socialist leader, Costa became the prime minister after President Anibal Cavaco Silva give the nod to the Socialist, Left Bloc and Green-led coalition to form the government.

A father of two and an advocate by profession, Costa began in politics as a deputy in the municipal council. He has been a minister in the Portugal government, served as a Member of the European Parliament and been the mayor of Lisbon. Subsequent to the Socialist Party’s decision in September 2014 to nominate him as the party’s prime ministerial candidate for the 2015 general elections, he resigned as mayor and contested and won the polls.

With the centre-right government of the Social Democratic Party and CDS-People’s Party now voted out of power over an austerity proposal, Costa staked his claim to forming a coalition government.

Sinnika says Costa’s father Orlando António Fernandes da Costa, a Portuguese writer who left Goa for Lisbon when he was 18, had been a member of the Portugal Communist Party. “However, Antonio was moderate and inclined to his socialistic views. We witnessed a very lively exchange between the father and son once at their home in Lisbon,” Sinikka says.

In Lisbon, Orlando had got married to a Portuguese journalist, Maria Antónia Palla, and António Costa was born to the couple in July 1961. Orlando has another son, Richardo Costa, a Portuguese journalist, from a second marriage. “For our family António was ‘Baboosh’ and Richardo was ‘Babulo’,” Sinnika says.

The family remembers Costa visiting the Goa twice as a child. After completing his law studies and entering politics, he visited India again as a part of a Portuguese delegation.

Sinnika is not sure if she can make it for the oath-taking ceremony if it happens, but her daughter Anna adds, “In mid-April next year I plan to visit Portugal. Maybe I will visit them then.”

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