Portuguese government coalition talks begin
Portuguese election victors the Social Democrats began official negotiations on Wednesday with fellow right-leaning party the CDS-PP in a bid to form a government.
The parties said in a statement they had decided to create two working groups, tasked with negotiating a political accord which will govern relations between the two parties and drawing up an agreement "which will serve as a foundation to a future programme of government."
"The two delegations have decided to organise a final meeting before assessing the work of the two groups and concluding the negotiations," the parties said following a meeting between PSD president Pedro Passos Coelho and his CDS-PP counterpart Paulo Portas.
On Monday Portuguese President Anibal Cavaco Silva instructed the centre-right PSD, who defeated the ruling Socialists in a general election on Sunday, to begin work on putting together a coalition government "immediately."
Passos Coelho must announce the results of the talks by June 15 at the latest, when the final official results of the election, including the overseas ballots, will be published.
With four seats yet to be decided, the Social Democrats won 105 seats in the 230-seat legislature.
The smaller conservative CDS-PP party finished third with 24 seats.
Their combined 129 seats give them an absolute majority in parliament. They last governed in a coalition between 2002 and 2005.
The president said a government would ideally be formed by June 23 when European Union leaders are set to meet.
If this was not possible Portugal would be represented in Brussels by outgoing prime minister Jose Socrates, he said.
The new government will be tasked with pushing through deep spending cuts and economic reforms agreed under a 78 billion euro ($114 billion) bailout deal reached in May with the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.
© 2011 AFP