Portugal seeks political stability with Cavaco Silva

23.01.06 @ 10:05

  1. By Teresa Küchler

Economy professor and former prime minister Anibal Cavaco Silva won the presidential election in Portugal on Sunday (22 January), promising to take Portugal out of a stagnant financial situation and to secure political stability.

With a convincing 50.6 percent of votes in Sunday's election, Mr Cavaco Silva will be the first non-socialist president since democracy was established in Portugal after the 1974 revolution.

In his victory speech he promised to fight for political stability, in an attempt to sooth suspicions from his opponents that once elected Mr Cavaco Silva would try to overreach his legitimate power and become "a second prime minister", according to French daily Le Monde.

A socialist minister said last week that a victory for Mr Cavaco Silva, who served as prime minister from 1985 to 1995, would amount to a "constitutional coup d'etat," writes AP.

"My victory is the defeat of none. I am a man of consensus and dialogue," Mr Cavaco Silva announced just after Portuguese TV had hailed him the country's new president.

"I know by my own experience the value of cooperation among government bodies."

Portugal has seen four prime ministers in four years and four finance ministers in the last 12 months.

The Portuguese president holds limited powers, with Mr Cavaco Silva forced to work side by side with the centre-left socialist government for the coming three years.

The Portuguese head of state can veto laws, dissolve the parliament and call elections, but has no executive powers.

The sitting left-wing prime minister Jose Socrates on Sunday expressed his "availability and commitment to contribute to friendly relations and full cooperation with the president...in the interests of political stability."

Portugal's economy is lagging behind the rest of the European Union since the past five years and is forecast to stay weak for another two years.

High unemployment rates and the biggest differences between rich and poor in the EU, made the voters put their trust in the 66 year-old veteran, writes the Spanish press.

Mr Cavaco Silva told his voters on Sunday that he "would make their dreams come true," causing amusment in some media, which pointed out he has limited powers to do anything of the sort.

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