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Portugal’s Passos Coelho tasked with forming new government

Portuguese President Anibal Cavaco Silva on Tuesday tasked centre-right leader Pedro Passos Coelho with forming a “stable and lasting government” after his coalition won reelection at the weekend.

“I have asked Mr Passos Coelho to take steps to evaluate the possibility of forming a government which will ensure political stability,” he said in a televised speech, saying it was crucial that Portugal have a “stable and lasting government”.

Passos Coelho’s “Portugal Ahead” coalition notched up 38.6 percent of the vote in Sunday’s election, despite overseeing four years of painful austerity measures imposed in order for the debt-hit country to receive an international bailout.

But the results fell short of an absolute majority, meaning Passos Coelho will have to form a new coalition — a tough task given the substantial opposition to the past government’s belt-tightening.

Passos Coelho, a 51-year-old economist, will need the support, or at least the acquiescence, of other political parties to govern.

The second-placed party, the anti-austerity Socialists, picked up 32.4 percent of the vote, retaining its status as the main opposition group in parliament.