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Portugal’s new government needs MPs’ backing: president

The new Portuguese government to be elected on June 5 must have “majority support” in parliament, President Anibal Cavaco Silva said Monday.

“Considering the challenges that await it, the government elected in elections on June 5 should have majority support in the assembly,” the head of state said at an event to commemorate the 37th anniversary of the Carnation Revolution which ushered in democracy in 1974.

Calling for “responsible behaviour” to overcome “permanent tensions” between political parties, Cavaco Silva said it was “imperative to create spaces of harmony to assure stable and credible government solutions.”

Socialist Prime Minister Jose Socrates resigned in March after failing to win parliamentary support for stiff austerity measures, forcing him to seek a European Union and International Monetary Fund bailout to repay nearly five billion euros ($7 billion) in maturing debt.

“Even before the elections, the government and political parties must attempt to engage in dialogue,” said Cavaco Silva, as an EU-IMF team continued crisis talks with Portuguese political and business leaders.

Socrates agreed that political dialogue and cooperation was essential.

“We could have avoided many things if we had had this spirit,” he said, blaming the opposition for having aggravated the country’s financial situation and provoking a political crisis.

The leader of the main opposition Social Democrat (PSD) party, Pedro Passos Coelho, said Portuguese citizens had their eyes fixed on political parties and their leaders. “It is important that all parties are on top of their responsibilities.”

Other former heads of state also used the anniversary event to call for national cohesion and dialogue.

Socialist ex-president Mario Soares underlined “the crucial need for the Portuguese to unite around the big reforms required”, while lamenting a “lack of European solidarity” in response to the eurozone’s debt crisis.