Yannick Schade/Volt: Improving «mobility must be the priority for the Algarve»

In the Algarve, «something as banal as going shopping always had to be done with the help of a car»

Yannick Schade is 23 years old. He has worked in the customer service sector since 2019. He has experience with volunteers and NGOs, including ReFood and Rias, since 2011. He joined politics in 2018 because he “felt frustrated” with it. He represents, for the first time as head of the Volt list, the constituency where he was born and raised.

Now that the election campaign is underway, the Sul Informação is publishing interviews with the list leaders of the 15 parties or coalitions that are running for the Legislative Elections on March 10th.

The same questions were sent, in a timely manner, to all 15 first candidates, covering the main themes in focus in the Algarve.

The interviews will be published as responses reach our newsroom.

 

Sul Informação – What are the priorities of your political force in the next legislature for the Algarve?

Yannick Schade – We want to diversify the Algarve economy. However, for companies to establish themselves in the Algarve, there must be incentives and favorable conditions.
As such, it is necessary to invest in the district's infrastructure, particularly the railway. This would be one of the best ways to provide the region with better transport, making it more attractive for companies and improving the quality of life of those in the Algarve.

SI – What led you to accept being the head of the list for the party or political force you represent?

YS – In Volt, primary elections are held among party members to decide the leaders of the lists.
I decided to run because I considered it important that my profile was represented in Portuguese politics: the profile of a young worker who was unable to finance his higher education studies and who is tired of the stagnation in the country and the region where he lives.

SI – What are the expectations and objectives of your political force in relation to these Legislative Elections?

YS – We mainly intend to elect our first female deputy for Lisbon. That is our ambition.
This electoral system does not, however, allow a real representation of voters' will, as thousands of votes are wasted, which encourages voters to vote strategically, through the so-called “useful vote”, instead of voting for the party that actually represents them.
My objective is to bring this and other issues to the table, as well as fight for the creation of a national compensation constituency, in order to ensure the representation of voters.

SI – What remains to be done in the Algarve?

YS - So much! Where to start? I grew up in the Algarve and always had difficulty getting around on a daily basis.
There is little public transport available and services are weak. Something as banal as going shopping always had to be done with the help of a car.
However, there are good examples from elsewhere in Europe on how to integrate rural populations into the life of society. This is the case with “Rufbus” in Germany, where you can call the local parish council and order a bus to the nearest village.
It is necessary to invest in an effective public transport network that adequately responds to the needs of the population.
For me, mobility has to be the priority for the Algarve, because this would help to face issues such as the housing problem.
It would allow, for example, people to live outside of cities, but still have easy access to them, thus reducing demand in city centers and, consequently, real estate speculation.
This would also make it faster and easier to travel from one city to another, giving companies more options when recruiting human resources.
This would make the Algarve more attractive for new companies, allowing greater economies of scale, creating more jobs and generating more profit for the region.
The idea is, in this way, to attract new sectors of the economy, unlike the current lack of diversification, in which the region is dominated by tourism.

SI – Drought and lack of water are pressing issues in the Algarve. What solutions do you advocate, in the short term, knowing that the water currently available only arrives until August? And in the medium and long term?

YS – In the short term, it is necessary to reduce the impact of drought, through measures such as eliminating water losses in pipes, whether due to leaks or breakdowns, ensuring that the network is rehabilitated where necessary.
Taking into account that some municipalities experience up to 50% water loss in pipes, this has to be a priority in this area.
We propose that illegal boreholes be monitored, in agriculture and beyond, as these boreholes must be managed by the community, so that they are used by the general population, and not just by a few.
Other medium and long-term measures include maximizing the reuse of water from WWTPs, which are returned to the sea and could be used for industrial cleaning and car washing, for example.
The transition to more sustainable agriculture, with plantations adapted to drier climates and requiring less water, is another measure we propose.
Desalination cannot be the first solution, as it will not solve structural problems, such as leaks in pipelines.

SI – Health is a very deficient sector in the Algarve and in the country. What measures do you recommend to solve health problems in the Algarve?

YS – Without a doubt, digital health must be one of the focuses, in order to ensure a modern and efficient service.
We also need to ensure that higher user flows in peak seasons are taken into account in local funding, rather than being based on the number of residents. This would help to ensure that health services in the Algarve are able to respond to seasonal demand, without affecting the needs of the Algarve.
It is also necessary to ensure that there is a focus on USF-B and that the Algarve is attractive to family doctors.

SI – What about the Algarve Central Hospital? What should be done?

YS – The failure to provide health services in the Algarve is a well-known problem in the district, but there has not been much improvement.
Taking into account that the team to “start the study process and prepare the launch of a new public-private partnership for the creation of the new Algarve Central Hospital” (as can be read in the Ministry of Finance bulletin) was set up in April of last year, we could be talking about decades until the construction of the hospital itself is completed.
I think that investing in the improvement and recovery of existing infrastructure should be a priority, as is the case with the Hospital de Faro.
It is essential to ensure that current services are in good condition and truly respond to the needs of the Algarve.

SI – The Centro Hospitalar Universitário do Algarve and the Regional Health Administration joined, from January 1st, into a single body, the Algarve Local Health Unit. What do you think of this change and what expectations do you have for your future?

YS – The transition to ULS is positive because it encourages the integration of primary and tertiary healthcare and preventive healthcare.
However, the actual result will depend on the implementation at the systems and process level. It is necessary to ensure that this change is carried out efficiently and focuses on the needs of the population and the Algarve region.

SI – The previous Government, now only in management, transformed the Regional Coordination and Development Commissions into Public Institutes, adding new functions (such as Agriculture and Fisheries, as well as Culture). What do you think of this change and what expectations do you have for your future? Is this a first step towards Regionalization?

YS – The integration of these peripheral services into the CCDR is, effectively, an initial step towards greater autonomy in the region, because there will be better coordination between the different services, particularly those most recently integrated, which will lead to greater efficiency in communication and allocation of resources different resources.
This change also allows services to remain in the same location, which leads to continuity of the work carried out with local communities.
An advantage also coming from this new organic law is the greater administrative and financial autonomy of the CCDR, even though it is under the supervision of the Ministry of Territorial Cohesion.
However, I consider it important to closely monitor this new restructuring, given that the goals established until 2029, such as the increase in employees, involve a substantial level of effort and organization.

SI – Are you for or against Regionalization? Why?

YS - I am in favor. Like Volt, I defend regionalization as a driver of development for the entire territory, bringing political decision-making structures closer to the citizen and, in this way, contributing to the fight against abstention, greater territorial cohesion and increased effectiveness and efficiency of public services.
Regionalization will be a vector of economic specialization in different regions, which will contribute to solving structural problems of productivity and competitiveness in the Portuguese economy, by allowing the creative potential of the region to be released, currently constrained by the centralized design of public policies.
Regionalization must be based on the principle of subsidiarity, according to which the level of government above (Government of the Republic, in this case) only intervenes if its action is more effective than that carried out at the regional level.
The aim is to make the State structure more modern and flexible.

SI – Will the integration of the former Regional Directorates of Culture and Agriculture and Fisheries into the CCDR have beneficial effects for these sectors or not?

YS – This integration is beneficial, as it allows regions to have more decision-making autonomy in these sectors and, consequently, to have a more dynamic and personalized response to the needs of local populations.
However, monitoring of this change is necessary to ensure that it is carried out in a productive manner.

SI – What solutions do you recommend for tolls on Via do Infante?

YS – What I think is a priority is investment in public transport infrastructure, since, at the moment, it is almost an obligation to have your own car in the Algarve.
Regarding the tolls on Via do Infante, these end up being an expression of this reality, since, if we didn't all have to use the car to get everywhere, tolls wouldn't be as relevant as they currently are.
In the short term, I agree that tolls should be maintained until the investment made in the road and its maintenance is paid for, but that we should try to reach an agreement with the private sector to end tolls, until there is an offer of public transport competitive and that responds to the needs of the Algarve.

SI – And for the completion of works on the EN125, from Olhão to Vila Real de Santo António?

YS – Work on the EN125 is essential to ensure the safety of the road.
As EN125 is known for its poor condition, it is important that quality and safety are ensured.
Taking into account that public transport does not have decent coverage in the region and, therefore, people in the Algarve are often limited to individual transport, it is important to guarantee the quality of the roads, as we do not even have viable alternatives.

SI – One of the biggest problems in the Algarve is mobility. Work is being carried out to electrify the Algarve Line, the creation of the Metrobus is expected and there is talk of a possible TGV connection between Faro and Huelva/Seville. What is your opinion on these issues and what solutions do you advocate?

YS – The Algarve’s railway offer is not competitive and does not meet the needs of residents or tourists.
The three measures mentioned in the question are insufficient or should not be on the table at this time, as important steps are being skipped.
The electrification of the network should be carried out after improving the line's route, as first electrifying sections of the line that can still be improved is not efficient, as they have to be closed to improve the route.
It would be more efficient to review which sections could be improved, this way we allow trains to reach higher speeds and then, yes, electrify the network.
Meanwhile, it should be noted that the Algarve line is currently being used at 40% of its capacity.
By increasing this same capacity, we are able to have more regular services, which do not require us to wait for hours, which makes the railway a much more attractive option.
Regarding Metrobus, it makes more sense to invest in a new railway line that connects strategic points in the Algarve, such as the airport and university centers, as proposed in the Volt program, since Metrobus does not have the same capacity and does not present solutions that are more attractive than the use of individual transport.
Finally, a line must be created that connects Andalusia to the Algarve.
However, a TGV line does not make much sense, as for it to be efficient it would only have to stop in larger cities, such as Faro, Huelva and Seville, and would not contribute much to the mobility of the region.
I call for the creation of a modern regional line between the Algarve and Andalusia, in order to offer this new service, but also improving the existing line's offering.

SI – The president of the Algarve Tourism Region complained that the budget of this organization is short and has not been increased for many years. What do you recommend for this sector in the Algarve region?

YS – Tourism is, at the moment, the dominant economic sector in the Algarve, the one that has the most impact and influence on the district.
The Algarve cannot continue to depend on a single sector in the way it currently is.
A good example of this was seen during the pandemic, with unemployment rising during that period disproportionately in relation to the rest of the country.
It is therefore necessary to prioritize the diversification of the Algarve economy. We have, by nature, an attractive region to live in, with good weather and beautiful landscapes.
However, without the necessary infrastructure, we are not a competitive region compared to others across Europe.
In addition to infrastructure, I want to apply measures such as the creation of cluster organizations (business clusters), the review and expansion of the tax incentive scheme aimed at research and development activities, and investing in sectors such as, for example, renewable energy, artificial intelligence, the digital economy, the maritime economy and biotechnology.

SI – In the current Government, does Tourism share a State secretariat with Commerce and Services? Do you think it is enough? Or should a future Government give more importance to Tourism? In what way?

YS – As I mentioned in the previous question, I believe we are too dependent on the tourism sector and we need to diversify our economy.
This has to be the priority for Portugal and not always invest in the same sector. This sector is heavily exposed to economic, environmental, geopolitical crises and, as we have seen, pandemics.
Therefore, I consider that the current model of including Tourism in the Commerce and Services secretariat is appropriate and that the focus must be on creating conditions for other sectors to establish themselves in Portugal.

SI – In the case of more divisive issues, will you vote for the AR according to your conviction, even if it goes against your party's guidelines?

YS – Yes, I will vote according to my conviction, if I think that my party's position is not correct, since the deputies' vote must represent the voters, first and foremost, and not the parties.

SI – Do you consider that it would be useful to change the electoral law, to create single-member and partial constituencies and a national compensation circle, and thus bring deputies closer to citizens? Why or why not?

YS – The Portuguese electoral system has several advantages, but it still suffers from several problems that other models solve.
One of them is the lack of concrete representation of deputies in the Assembly of the Republic, which creates distance between the representative and the electorate, leading to a problem of lack of accountability.
Another problem is the false proportionality obtained by using the Hondt method without a compensation circle.
As a solution, I see the adoption of an electoral system that provides a balance between representation and proportionality, for example, with compensation circles, as exists in the regional elections in the Azores.
In this way, we do not compromise any of the principles of the current system and guarantee government stability using consensus and coalitions, without hindering the entry of new, smaller parties.

SI – Do you want to add any more topics or questions?

YS – A topic that concerns me at the moment is Defense. Both Portugal and a good part of European countries are not in a position to defend themselves in the short term.
It is important that we invest quickly in this sector, so that, in the medium and long term, we can change the current reality and have Armed Forces with the capacity to respond to external threats.
Some first steps to take at this time include purchasing weapons, equipment and vehicles jointly with other countries; the integration of units into armies of other countries, as the Netherlands and Germany already do; and make a military career more attractive.
In the long term, a European army that is accountable to the European Parliament is needed so that we have a military force that is capable of serving as an effective deterrent to current and future threats.

 

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