Portugal’s Socialists say in position to form coalition govt
Portugal's opposition Socialists said Tuesday they were in a position to form a coalition government with the Communists and another leftist party.
“After the contacts we had with the Communist Party and the Left Bloc, we can say that we are in a position to form a government with a parliamentary majority,” Socialist leader Antonio Costa said after meeting President Anibal Cavaco Silva.
Since the October 4 election, Portugal’s parties have been locked in talks to form a coalition government.
Portugal emerged in May 2014 from a three-year, 78-billion-euro ($88-billion) international bailout, and the prospect of a fragile government has rattled investors.
Although the outgoing rightwing coalition of Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho won the election, it lost the absolute parliamentary majority it had enjoyed since 2011.
Following the vote, the president tasked Passos Coelho with seeking the support of the Socialist opposition in order to form a “stable and lasting” government.
But his efforts failed.
As the Socialists were talking with Passos Coelho, they were also consulting with the Communist Party and the radical Left Bloc, linked to Greece’s anti-austerity Syriza party, with the aim of forming an “alternative government”.
A former mayor of Lisbon, Costa has pledged to put an end to four years of painful austerity put in place by Passos Coelho’s coalition.
However, Passos Coelho, who met with the president on Tuesday, emphasized that the coalition of his centre-right Social Democratic Party and his conservative CDS ally had won a “clear” victory.
“It is natural for these two groups to form a government,” he said, adding he was convinced he would be able to obtain the necessary support to offer Portugal “a period of stability and of trust.”
After the elections, the radical leftist parties had said they were ready to back a government led by the socialists.
“The negotiations, which were quite complex, must be concluded in the coming days, but they have already allowed for the creation of a stable government,” said the leader of the Left Bloc, Catarina Martins, after she also met with the president.
Under Portugal’s constitution, the president must consult with all the parties represented in parliament before nominating a prime minister.
The final consulations, with the Communist Party, are scheduled for Wednesday morning.
The poll victory by Passos Coelho, a 51-year-old economist, came despite overseeing four years of painful austerity measures imposed on Portugal as part of the bailout.