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Portuguese president asks opposition leader to form govt

Published on 06/06/2011

Portuguese President Anibal Cavaco Silva on Monday asked the leader of the centre-right PSD party to "immediately" start work on forming a new government following weekend elections.

The Social Democrats (PSD) took 38.6 percent of the vote in Sunday’s polls to secure 105 seats in the 230-seat legislature, after only the votes cast abroad, involving four seats in parliament, were left to count.

PSD leader Pedro Passos Coelho said he would immediately seek to form a coalition government with the smaller, conservative CDS-PP which won 24 seats, which would give the two parties a absolute majority in parliament.

“As the Social Democrats won yesterday’s elections, electing the most lawmakers, the president instructed Pedro Passos Coelhos to immediately begin work to propose a government solution that has consistent majority support in parliament,” the president’s office said in a statement.

“Preceding the nomination of the prime minister, these efforts should be carried out as quickly as possible and the results communicated to the president before the publication of the official results of the election, it added.

The final official results of the election, including the overseas vote, will be published on June 15.

The next government will be charged with implementing a demanding programme of spending cuts and economic reforms Lisbon agreed to last month in exchange for a 78 billion euro bailout from the European Union and International Monetary Fund.

“The president trusts in the sense of responsibility and openness to dialogue on the part of all polical forces, so as to ensure that Portugal will dispose of the political conditions to confront the serious economic and social condition it finds itself in,” the president’s office added.

The statement was issued after the president met with the PSD leader for more than 90 minutes at his official residence.

Under the Portuguese constitution, the prime minister is nominated by the president according to the electoral results and after all parties with representation in parliament have been heard.

The outgoing Socialists who negotiated the bailout deal captured 28 percent of the vote, their lowest percentage of the ballots since elections in 1987, giving them just 73 seats in parliament.