Polls likely as Portugal MPs reject 2022 budget
Portugal’s opposition on Wednesday defeated the Socialist minority government’s budget for 2022 in parliament, opening the way to early elections.
Prime Minister Antonio Costa has ruled out stepping down of his own accord.
“The last thing the country needs in these circumstances is a political crisis,” he said just before the vote that broke the fragile left-wing alliance that had kept him in power since 2015.
But President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa had warned he would dissolve parliament if the spending plans were blocked.
Parliament has never rejected a budget since Portugal’s transition to democracy in 1974.
Although the vote does not automatically trigger new elections — which would normally be held in late 2023 — the president has the right to dissolve parliament in his role as crisis moderator.
“If parliament is unable to adopt a budget that’s fundamental for the country, it would be positive to hear the voices of the Portuguese people, so they can say what they think about a future assembly,” Rebelo de Sousa said Wednesday.
“I hope this frustration will transform into a stable and stronger majority” in the chamber, prime minister Costa said.