The former president of the Azorean Parliament, Guilherme Reis Leite, defended Thursday that the Azoreans in the diaspora should have the right to participate in political process in the Azores.
Speaking at the 1st Summer University Conference, held on Terceira island July 15-18, he claimed that the Azoreans in the diaspora should have the right to vote in the regional legislative elections.
“There is a misconception in our political institutions when the legislative body argues that they are the legitimate representatives of the Azorean people. They are not. The Azorean people are not just those who live on the islands. As it is, only the Portuguese residing on the islands can vote. The Azorean people have no political identity and as such they can’t vote,” he said.
It is has been estimated that the Azorean population in the diaspora is three times larger than the resident population on the islands estimated at 250,000. The majority of the Azoreans living outside the archipelago have settled in mainland Portugal, the United States, Canada and Brazil.
The Azores became an Autonomous Region of Portugal in 1976. The government of the Autonomous Region of the Azores includes the Legislative Assembly, composed of 57 elected deputies, elected by universal suffrage for a four-year term; the Regional Government and Presidency, with parliamentary legitimacy, composed of a President, a Vice-President and seven Regional Secretaries responsible for the Regional Government executive operations. The Autonomous Region of the Azores is represented in the Council of Ministers of the Central Government by a representative appointed by the President of Portugal.
Promoted by the Instituto Açoriano de Estudos Europeus e Relações Internacionais (IAEERI), the 1st Summer University Conference debated issues relating to the geostrategic position of the Azores, the geostrategic role of the Azores in the global context, incorporating the archipelago in international organizations, and the relevance of the Azores for the United States in the context of the Lajes Air Field.
Established in 2011, the IAEERI is based in Lajes, Terceira. Its mission is to contribute to the debate over the role of the Azores in the context of the Atlantic.