Golden Visa criticism: the political mood towards foreign investment in Portugal
A few days ago, there have been some minor quarrelling inside the Portuguese ruling alliance regarding the Golden Visa programme. The Left Bloc, one of the left-wing parties supporting the Socialist Party, renewed its current critics to the programme and urged the government to cancel it. The Bloc says that it brought nothing but real estate speculation, based likely on money-laundering schemes.
This is not the first time the party has come with this kind of criticism. In recent past, the Left Bloc has also criticised the tax exemption attributed to foreign retirees in Portugal, mainly for the same reason: being a factor in real estate prices rising.
Is there a risk for investors? Not likely
While there is a growing concern about gentrification in Lisbon and Porto, it’s too soon to say that there will be a political backlash against foreigners. In fact, that is very unlikely.
One must understand the political position of the Left Bloc. Supporting the socialists means that they are abiding, in a way, with the “transformed” measures of fiscal austerity that the government has to maintain, given the big amount of public debt the country is still facing. This could place the Left Bloc next to Syriza (Greece), which has been accused of “social-democratisation” after becoming the government. This means that the Bloc must keep some kind of pressure on the government.
Moreover, there is not a widespread understanding of foreign investment as being a source of problems; in fact, its quite the opposite. The foreigners are bringing their money to the Portuguese economy; outside the city centres of Lisbon and Porto (gentrification, as mentioned earlier), so there is virtually no one complaining. And it’s not only in Algarve that foreigners are coming; the Oeste region, between the districts (regional groups of municipalities, in Portugal) of Lisbon and Leiria, the effects of the arriving foreigners have also been welcomed.
It is likely that some measures might be taken to check the arriving Chinese. (It is said that Chinese citizens cannot take more than €50.000 out of the country, but they’re the main benefactors of Golden Visa, which requires at least half a million euros of investment.) But the political mood is definitely positive towards foreign real estate investment right now, especially outside Lisbon and Porto.
The Left Bloc gathered 10,19% of votes and 19 out of 230 MP after the legislative elections of 2015.