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Portugal opposition says crisis talks have failed

Published on 19/07/2013

The leader of Portugal's Socialist opposition said Friday that talks to end a more than two-week political crisis sparked by feuding over austerity cuts in the bailed-out nation had failed.

Antonio Jose Seguro said the two parties in the embattled centre-right coalition government had “made it impossible” for his Socialists to join them in a pact to pursue radical reforms aimed at avoiding a second rescue, as urged by conservative President Anibal Cavaco Silva.

“Over the course of this week, we’ve fought for the government to put an end to its austerity policy,” said Seguro, secretary general of the Socialist party.

“What’s going to happen now? That’s for the president to decide,” he added.

He said two irreconcilable positions had emerged during the negotiations, which started Sunday, and that he had insisted on “turning a corner in Portugal because the Portuguese people can’t take any more sacrifices.”

He pledged to keep fighting to renegotiate the austerity cuts agreed as part of Portugal’s May 2011 bailout.

Portugal is struggling with a three-year recession and record unemployment of more than 18 percent as it implements the harsh cuts promised in return for its 78-billion-euro rescue by the European Union and International Monetary Fund.

The current crisis erupted when two key ministers in the ruling coalition resigned, with disagreements over spending cuts and tax increases at the heart of the squabble.