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Portugal’s Passos Coelho unveils minority government

Portuguese centre-right leader Pedro Passos Coelho on Tuesday unveiled his minority government more than three weeks after inconclusive elections.

The new cabinet, which includes heavyweights from the outgoing government, will take office on Friday, the office of President Anibal Cavaco Silva said in a statement.

The left, which won a majority in parliament in the October 4 polls, has threatened to bring down the new government as soon as it presents its programme, which it must do by November 9.

Half of the 16 ministers in the new lineup were in Passos Coelho’s outgoing cabinet, including his deputy Paulo Portas, finance minister Maria Luis Albuquerque and foreign minister Rui Machete.

The outgoing economy minister, Antonio Pires de Lima, has been replaced by Portas’s former deputy, Luis Miguel Morais Leitao.

Passos Coelho, who took office in 2011, won the October 4 elections with 38.6 percent of the vote but his centre-right bloc fell short of a parliamentary majority, winning 107 of 230 seats.

Antonio Costa, whose Socialist Party scored 32.3 percent and won 86 seats, has claimed his right to the premiership, saying he could muster a government coalition with left-wing parties, to make up a majority of 122 MPs.

Such a coalition would be unprecedented in the last 40 years of Portuguese democracy, bringing together the Socialists with the Left Bloc — allied with Greece’s ruling anti-austerity Syriza party — along with Communists and Greens.