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Portuguese government to face censure motion

Published on 22/03/2013

Portugal's main Socialist opposition party agreed Friday to table a censure motion against the centre-right government, as deep fissures emerged in a fragile consensus for tough economic reforms.

The Socialist Party’s political committee unanimously backed the proposed motion.

The date for the motion to be tabled in parliament has yet to be fixed, but in any case it is almost certain to be defeated by the ruling coalition, which enjoys a comfortable majority.

Nevertheless, it exposes growing dissent over the austerity policies imposed on Portugal since it received a 78-billion-euro ($101 billion) international bailout agreed in May 2011.

The Socialists were in power when Lisbon sought the bailout but they now accuse the government of an “excess of austerity”, which they blame for worsening the recession and unemployment.

According to official forecasts, the Portuguese economy will shrink by 2.3 percent this year and the unemployment rate, now at 16.9 percent, will climb to 18.2 percent.

“Your strategy has failed. Your policies have failed and you deserve to be censured,” Socialist Party chief Jose Seguro told Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho in a parliamentary debate.

“Those who think this government will give up at the first sign of trouble are mistaken because this government has character,” the prime minister replied.