His name is Rio – new PSD leader elected
Rui Rio has triumphed in the party leadership battle and will lead the centre-right opposition to the ruling socialist party.
The former Mayor of Porto won the contest to lead the Social Democratic Party, replacing Pedro Passos Coelho.
“The current government will have in the new PSD leadership a firm and attentive opposition, but never one that is populist or demagogic,” Rio told ecstatic supporters in his home city which he ruled for nearly 12 years to 2013.
In a contest of two, Rio defeated the former prime minister, Pedro Santana Lopes, by gaining 54% of the votes from party members.
Two recent polls suggest the PSD would lose heavily to the socialists, whether Rio was PSD leader or not, such is the popularity of Socialist Party PM António Costa and so bitter are the memories of the austerity years when Passos Coelho imposed harsh spending cuts and widespread tax rises.
The new party leader has his work cut out to rebuild confidence in the PSD but Rio was always a harsh critic of his party’s austerity policies, when in a coalition government, and kicked off in his victory speech late on Saturday by promising a “more just and more harmonious society,” along with lower taxes and the old chestnut of ‘economic reforms.’
Rio supports abortion, euthanasia and the legalisation of cannabis for medicinal purposes. Her is 60-years-old and joined the PSD just after it was founded after the 1974 revolution. He was an MP from 1991 to 2001 and won three elections as mayor of Oporto.
Rio also is up for supporting a minority Socialist government – if António wins the 2019 general election but fails to secure a parliamentary majority – and is all for a cross-party cooperation for a national public works programme to attract European Union funding.
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