Portugal's first freely elected Parliament in half-a-century was inaugurated in Lisbon on Thursday (3 June) in an atmosphere of informality.
GV EXT Sao Beito Palace (2 shots)
GV Angolan refugees staging protest vigil on palace steps - washing hanging on lines (2 shots)
GV INT Deputies enter assembly
LV Deputies enter assembly
SV Deputies seated (2 shots)
SV People watch from public gallery
SV Assembly President Dr. Fernandes PULL BACK TO GV Parliament assembled
GV Deputies seated (5 shots)
Initials BB/1900 PK/DK/BB/1930
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Background: Portugal's first freely elected Parliament in half-a-century was inaugurated in Lisbon on Thursday (3 June) in an atmosphere of informality.
The ceremony took place in the Sao Beito Palace as homeless refugees from Angola continued a vigil on the palace steps in support go demands for government action over jobs and homos. The deputies had to walk past lines of washing flapping in the breeze.
Dressed mostly in casual clothes the deputies sat in their semi-circle of seats as they listened to the President of the newly elected National Assembly, Dr. Vasco Da Gama Fernandes, a Socialist lawyer, deliver his address.
Dr. Fernandes described the assembly as "transcending our national life".
The remainder of the session was taken up with administrative points -- agendas, and procedural rules. The meeting lasted only an hour and was in marked contrast to last year's opening of the now disbanded Constituent Assembly. Then the President of Portugal delivered a major address from the podium, as top military officers looked on.
According to Reuters the atmosphere of the inauguration reflected the current mood of political limbo in the country, as the nation waits for the presidential elections at the end of this month.
Not all 263 assembly members who were elected were present for the inauguration. There are 107 Socialists, 30 Popular Democrats, 42 from the Conservative Centre Democrats, 40 Communists and one from the ultra-left People's Democratic Union.
The Assembly will convene again after the presidential elections on 27 June.