Tags: EU | Portugal | Politics

Portugal Begins Job of Clarifying Government's Future

Portugal Begins Job of Clarifying Government's Future

Tuesday, 06 October 2015 08:48 AM

LISBON, Portugal (AP) — Senior Portuguese officials are starting the delicate task of installing a stable government after a general election that complicated as much as it clarified the country's future.

President Anibal Cavaco Silva was due to begin a round of meetings with party leaders Tuesday to decide on the best path forward. The head of state is usually a symbolic fringe figure, with no executive power, but now plays a central role in efforts to find a political accommodation.

The incumbent center-right government collected most votes, but lost its outright majority in Parliament where it will be outnumbered by left-of-center lawmakers who want to ease or end austerity. The government has 104 seats in the 230-seat Parliament, with four seats still to be allocated. The main opposition center-left Socialist Party has 85 seats, the left Bloc 19 and the Communist Party/Green Party alliance 17.

At stake is parliamentary approval for debt-reduction measures and reforms that were designed to help the eurozone country's economy recover from a 78 billion euro ($87 billion) bailout in 2011 and a subsequent three-year recession. The election handed no party an outright parliamentary majority in a result that could spell political gridlock and bring another bout of market nervousness about the eurozone's commitment to fiscal discipline.

When it neared bankruptcy in 2011 amid the eurozone debt crisis, Portugal's problems generated fears of a domino effect that threatened to engulf its larger neighbor Spain.

The Portuguese government's win Sunday earned a letter of congratulations from Mariano Rajoy's conservative government in neighboring Spain, which faces an election Dec. 20. Rajoy's government has imposed deep spending cuts and faces challenges from anti-austerity radicals like the Podemos party, but growth has returned to the country and Rajoy hopes that will pay dividends at the ballot box.

Portugal's head of state invites the most-voted party to form a government, but if he is unsure of its survival he can consider alternatives.

The Left Bloc said late Monday it is ready to partner the more moderate Socialists in government if they drop their proposals to freeze pensions and enact labor reforms.

The Socialists didn't immediately reply. Muddying things further, they are entangled in an expected challenge to the leadership of Antonio Costa after he failed to return his party to power.

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Senior Portuguese officials are starting the delicate task of installing a stable government after a general election that complicated as much as it clarified the country's future.President Anibal Cavaco Silva was due to begin a round of meetings with party leaders Tuesday...
EU,Portugal,Politics
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2015-48-06
Tuesday, 06 October 2015 08:48 AM
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