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Portugal to hold parliamentary elections on October 4

Portuguese President Anibal Cavaco Silva announced Wednesday that “particularly important” parliamentary elections would be held on October 4.

“These elections are particularly important for Portugal’s future,” as the country remains subject to strict financial discipline, a year after emerging from an international bailout package, Silva said in a televised speech.

Centre-right Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho, 50, who has been in office since 2011, will seek a second four-year mandate.

The Socialist Party of his rival Antonio Costa, 54, have long enjoyed a lead in the opinion polls but have recently lost ground to the ruling coalition of Passos Coelho’s Social Democrats (PSD) and the conservative CDS-PP party.

The latest poll shows the Socialists still out in front, on 36.7 percent, down from 38.1 percent in May, compared with the governing coalition’s 34.6 percent.

Though the figures suggest that neither camp can win a majority, the ruling parties have ruled out forming a grand coalition with the Socialists.

Silva called on the parties to set aside their “partisan goals,” arguing that “Portugal needs a solid, stable, durable government.”

In 2011, Portugal’s economy, which was on the verge of collapse, became the third eurozone country after Ireland and Greece to be bailed out.

It left the bailout scheme in May 2014 but only after implementing stringent austerity measures in return for funding.

Thousands of people protested outside the parliament building in Lisbon Wednesday, calling for an end to austerity policies and a change of government.