Saturday

16th Feb 2019

Portugal caught up in post-election turmoil

  • Reappointed PM Passos Coelho might not be able to serve a second term despite his party coalition winning the most votes. (Photo: epp.eu)

Portugal is being caught up in a political turmoil that could last for months and put the mooted economic recovery at risk, as leftist parties pledged to topple Prime Minister-designate Pedro Passos Coelho's minority centre-right government.

The Portuguese Socialist Party is pushing for negotiations over a leftist alliance, that would include for the first time in 40 years, the anti-euro and anti-NATO Communist Party. The Left Bloc, another possible partner, inspired by Greece's governing leftist Syriza party, wants to restructure Portuguese debt.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

The Socialists want to slow down budget cuts and ease austerity after Portugal emerged from a €78 billion international financial bailout just a year ago.

Amid the political uncertainty that could be a potential setback to the country's recovery, Portuguese bond yields rose on Monday (26 October).

Ten-year Portuguese yields were up 8 basis points at 2.46 percent, Reuters reported.

Passos Coelho's centre-right government carried out unpopular austerity measures and tax increases during a bailout to combat a debt crisis that sent Portugal into a three-year recession.

The measures drove down the deficit to around 3 percent of the GDP estimated for this year, from close to 10 percent.

Hangover

After the elections on 4 October, Coelho, 51, was reappointed by president Aníbal Cavaco Silva last Thursday despite lacking a majority in parliament, which swung to the Left.

The leftist block with the greens now has 122 seats out of 230.

Coelho, whose coalition was the winner in the elections, has 10 days to form a government, but the Socialists vowed to topple the cabinet in a confidence vote.

If Coelho loses, he will need to give back his mandate to the president, yet the Portuguese constitution does not allow for new elections within 6 months of a vote, until April 2016.

Cavaco Silva might be forced to give a chance to the leftist alliance, even though he made it clear that he thinks it is dangerous.

"After undertaking a demanding bailout, which required sacrifices from the Portuguese, it is my duty to do everything I can to make sure that wrong signals aren't sent to financial institutions, investors and markets, which would put into question the confidence and credibility the country has been recovering with great effort," Cavaco Silva said in a televised speech.

"Never in 40 years of democracy have the governments in Portugal relied on the support of anti-European political forces," he added.

But the leftists beg to differ.

"From our point of view, there is another government solution that blocks the [centre-right] Social Democrats and CDS from forming a government," Communist leader Jeronimo de Sousa told reporters after meeting Cavaco Silva.

The possibility to include the communists in Socialist leader Antonio Costa's coalition came as a surprise as the moderate Socialists have no tradition of working with the far left.

The centre-right European People's Party EP group leader, Manfred Weber, called the Portuguese Socialists' intention to work with the "radicals and communists", "unacceptable".

In talks with the Socialists, both the Left Bloc and the Communists agreed to the EU budget rules.

As a first sign in showing their true political clout, the Socialists used their majority in parliament on Friday to elect a Socialist speaker of the house, and block the incoming centre-right government's candidate.

Socialist Eduardo Ferro Rodrigues was elected with 120 votes in the 230-seat house, defeating the centre-right Social Democrat candidate who received 108 votes.

Coelho re-elected as PM of Portugal

Centre-right PSD/CDS coalition clinched victory Sunday evening, but didn't get an absolute majority and will need the socialists to rule.

Agenda

Migration and Turkey top agenda This WEEK

EU leaders to hold two summits on migration as winter approaches, with a Turkey deal key to slowing arrivals. UK also expected to unveil wish list for EU reforms.

News in Brief

  1. Spain's Sanchez calls snap election on 28 April
  2. 15,000 Belgian school kids march against climate change
  3. May suffers fresh Brexit defeat in parliament
  4. Warning for British banks over Brexit staff relocation
  5. Former Italian PM wants Merkel for top EU post
  6. Antisemitic incidents up 10% in Germany
  7. Italy's asylum rejection rate at record high
  8. Hungary will not claim EU funds for fraudulent project

Agenda

Brexit and trip to Egypt for Arab League This WEEK

Brexit talks will continue in Brussels, as UK PM Theresa May's government is trying to find a way out of the political impasse at home. Murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi's fiancee will speak at the European Parliament next week.

Saudis paying College of Europe to lobby MEPs

The Bruges-based College of Europe is setting up private meetings with the EU institutions for seven ambassadors plus seven high-level officials from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  2. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  3. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  4. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change
  6. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament takes incoherent steps on climate in future EU investments
  7. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”

Latest News

  1. Sluggish procedure against Hungary back on table
  2. Could Finnish presidency fix labour-chain abuse?
  3. Brexit and trip to Egypt for Arab League This WEEK
  4. Belgian spy scandal puts EU and Nato at risk
  5. EU Parliament demands Saudi lobby transparency
  6. Saudi Arabia, but not Russia, on EU 'dirty money' list
  7. EU agrees draft copyright reform, riling tech giants
  8. Rutte warns EU to embrace 'Realpolitik' foreign policy

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs
  8. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  9. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  11. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  12. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us