Saturday 17 May 2014

“If you want things to stay as they are, things will have to change”: Was Lampedusa thinking about the Portuguese state?

Tomasi di Lampedusa’s now classic “The Leopard” is back to the Portuguese bookshops, with a new edition just published by Dom Quixote. The cover highlights the well-known quote: “If you want things to stay as they are, things will have to change”. From a marketing perspective it makes sense, because the idea clearly resonates in every Portuguese mind.

This text was prepared with one working hypothesis: could the Italian writer be thinking about the Portuguese State. The answer must be a resounding “Yes!” if we consider the case of the Portuguese state not as a unique institution but as a prototype of institutions caught in vicious circularity. Vicious circles are manifest in the Portuguese state institutions, with some of the symptoms being:
  • The incapacity of the system to renew itself. Reform attempts fail consecutively, with each new government making new claims about the need to reform. After so much use, the notion of reform is itself in need of reform – nobody knowing exactly what it means in practice.
  • The country’s political leadership would, however – one can possibly assume- love to be able to reform. The difficulty, of course, is that change is hard. Considering how difficult it is to change one organization, one gets a clear perspective of the Herculean dimension of the task of changing one State.
  • Portuguese politics (emphasis on politics) is a highly polarized and adversarial game. The dominant political parties are so similar in so many dimensions that they have to stress their differences. The result, to the public, is the perception of politics as a terrain for confrontation rather than for confrontation and compromise.
  • The lack of major political agreements on strategic vectors is a cause and a consequence of inertia: it is caused by the lack of a clear strategic intent, and prevents the development of a stable, shared, future-oriented strategic intent.          
  • As a result, strategy-making is heavily influenced by corporate interests; strategy is never written on a blank page but the Portuguese strategy for the public sector is an exercise of navigation through corporative seas.
  •  One of the most important corporations is the party corporation which fills the state institutions with their apparatchicks. A former prime-minister once pronounced that, with him, there would be “No jobs for the boys” (English in the original). There are still jobs for the boys.                                                         

At this stage, how can reform be reformed? The symptoms offer some possibilities for action:
  • Reform must be both top-down and bottom-up. The State should accord more discretion and autonomy to its organizations and their professionals. Its Kafkaesque bureaucratic disposition should be substituted by more freedom and accountability.
  •  Claims about reform should be down-toned and replaced with a dual approach: the top would clarify rules and responsibilities for change; the organizations in the field would discover how to improve and to renew themselves. Learning about good practices would be encouraged and incentives for good practices would be positive actions rather than result of coercive controls.
  • Areas of agreement should be defined and accepted as long term collective projects.
  • They would form the backbone of a shared, beyond legislature, strategic intent.
  •  Corporate interests would be framed within the strategic intent and collective interest.                         
  • Parties may accept that State professionalization requires truly Weberian bureaucrats, immune to the pressure from the parties. The system should control itself with an effective system of checks and balances.

If Lampedusa’s idea is so powerful it is because it proved to be so true. We should thus avoid naiveté: powerful interests often prevail over good intentions. But the deliquescence of trust in the political system is a major threat to vested corporate interests. It should thus be in their interest to introduce change that produces … change.     

Author: Miguel Pina e Cunha 



    I feel so blessed and fulfilled. I've been reluctant in applying for a loan i heard about online because everything seems too good to be true, but i was convinced & shocked when my friend at my place of work got a loan from Progresive Loan INC. & we both confirmed it and i also went ahead to apply, today am a proud owner of my company and making money for my family and a happy mom. Well i'm Annie Joe by name from Pauls Valley, Oklahoma. As a single mom with three kids it was hard to get a job that could take care of me and my kids and I had so much bills to pay and to make it worst I had bad credit so i couldn't obtain a loan from any bank. I had an ideal to start a business as an hair stylist but had no capital to start, Tried all type of banks but didn't work out until I was referred by my co-worker to a godsent lender advertising to give a loan at 2% interest rate. I sent them a mail using their official email address ( and I got a reply immediately and my loan was approved, and I was directed to the Bank site where I withdrawed my loan directly to my account. To cut the story short am proud of my hair stylist company and promise to testify to the world how my life was transformed.. If you are in need of any kind of loan, i advise you contact Progresive Loan INC and be financially lifted Email: OR Call/WhatsApp: +16626183756

  2. I really want to thank Dr Emu for saving my marriage. My wife really treated me badly and left home for almost 3 month this got me sick and confused. Then I told my friend about how my wife has changed towards me then she told me to contact Dr Emu that he will help me bring back my wife and change her back to a good woman. I never believed in all this but I gave it a try. Dr Emu casted a spell of return of love on her, and my wife came back home for forgiveness and today we are happy again. If you are going through any relationship stress or you want back your Ex or Divorce husband you can contact his whatsapp +2347012841542 or email 

  3. Plz reply as I'm looking to create my own blog and would like to find out where u got this from. thanks a lot. Feel free to visit my website; 한국야동

  4. In fact, your creative writing abilities has inspired me to get my very own blog now ?? Thank you for the auspicious writeup. Feel free to visit my website;

  5. You’ve written nice post, I am gonna bookmark this page, thanks for info. I actually appreciate your own position and I will be sure to come back here. Feel free to visit my website; 일본야동

  6. Hi very nice blog!! Man .. Beautiful .. Wonderful ..I’ll bookmark your web site and take the feeds also. I am glad to search out so many useful information here in the post, thank you for sharing. Feel free to visit my website; 일본야동

  7. After going over a few of the blog posts on your web page,
    I honestly like your way of writing a blog. I book-marked it to my bookmark webpage list and will be checking back soon. Take a look at my
    web site too and let me know how you feel.


  8. "Appreciate your push; dedicated to top-tier content, a catalyst for backlink excellence."49ers ovo hoodie