Portugal was seriously affected by the financial, economic and sovereign debt
crisis. The crisis pushed the debate on European integration, notably on the
European Monetary Union, into the public space. The bailout of the
Portuguese state by the European institutions and the IMF in 2011 made
austerity measures unavoidable and showed the other face of European
integration – keywords in the public discourse switched from ‘modernisation’
and ‘funding’ to ‘austerity’ and ‘poverty’. Political impacts were twofold.
Initially the left of centre Socialist Party (PS), which was in government
at the time, was blamed for the crisis and lost public support, in favour of
a centre right pro-austerity coalition. Yet, four years later, discontent
had grown and the electoral results in October 2015 enabled a convergence
between centre left and radical left parties for the first time in the
recent history of Portuguese democracy.
This chapter explores the reasons for the state of surprise, sketching them out from the starting point of the significant impact of the collapse of the USSR on Western understandings of Russia. It also explores the practical ramifications for the decline of Russia as a political priority on the wider political stage. The chapter outlines some of the problems of the current mainstream discussion of Russia, which is drowning in a discourse of speculation and rumour, 'Putinology' and historical analogies. Despite the dominance of transitological/regime question approach and the perceived eccentricity of Kremlinology, for many it has remained a truism of Russian political life that the final decisions are made behind the closed doors of the Kremlin. In fact, the collapse of the USSR has had serious ramifications for the study of Russia in the West, resulting in a major reassessment of Soviet studies, often bitter and acrimonious.