Possible scenarios after Portugal PM's resignation

24th March 2011, Comments 0 comments

Portuguese Prime Minister Jose Socrates resigned Wednesday after parliament rejected his minority Socialist government's latest austerity plan aimed at averting a financial bailout.

Centre-right President Anibal Cavaco Silva, who was sworn in for a second term two weeks ago after being re-elected as head of state in January, has several options but the likeliest scenario is a snap poll.


The president could ask the Socialist Party, which with 97 seats in the 230-seat assembly is the biggest group in parliament, to nominate a new prime minister but the move could prolong the period of political instability.


The president could invite parties with representation in parliament to form a coalition government. Analysts have said this is unlikely because of the high level of tension between party leaders.


This is the most likely scenario and it has already been backed by both the Socialist Party and the main centre-right Social Democratic Party (PSD)

Under this option Cavaco Silva, a former PSD prime minister, would dissolve parliament and call an early general election.

The poll must be held at least 55 days from the day the president announces it, setting the stage for a long spell of political uncertainty at a time when financial markers are closely watching Portugal.

During this time the Socialist Party would remain in power as a caretaker government with limited powers.

Before calling elections the president must meet with representatives of all political parties and with the Council of State, an advisory panel.

The president said in a statement that he would hold meetings with all political parties on Friday and that the government would retain full powers at least until then.

This means Socrates' government will still be intact during a two-day European Union summit that gets underway Thursday in Brussels.

The PSD has a lead over the Socialist Party in opinion polls but is not sure to cross the threshold needed to win an absolute majority, which would mean a new government could still struggle to pass austerity measures.


Socrates, first elected in 2005 and re-elected in 2009 but without a majority in parliament, said he would stand in any early elections.

"The political crisis can only be resolved through a decision on the part of the Portuguese people. I will submit myself to this decision with great determination and the same desire to serve my country," he said when he announced his resignation.

© 2011 AFP

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