Monday

16th Sep 2019

Portugal’s leftist opposition topples government

  • Socialist leader Costa aims to governing with Communists and radical left parties (Photo: Partido Socialista)

Left wing parties ousted Portugal’s ruling centre-right coalition on Tuesday (10 November), only 10 days after it came into power, paving the way for a Socialist-led government that could end years of austerity under the EU's bailout programme.

In the first such move against an elected government since the birth of a democratic Portugal in 1974, an unprecedented coalition between the Socialist Party (PS) and the Communist Party, joined by the newcomer Left Bloc, toppled the government of prime minister Pedro Passos Coelho after it presented its program.

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 plan was voted down by the new leftist bloc with 123 votes to 107 against in the 230-seat parliament, prompting the resignation of the government.

The centre-right coalition won the most votes in October's election but lost its overall majority in parliament.

Now it is up to president Anibal Cavaco Silva to decide to ask the Socialists to form a new government, or allow incumbent Passos to stay in charge until new elections are held.

"The taboo has ended, the wall has been broken," Socialist leader Antonio Costa was quoted as saying by Reuters on Tuesday.

"This is a new political framework, the old majority cannot pretend to be what it stopped being," he added.

The Socialist Party promised to alleviate austerity for Portugal, reversing a series of unpopular measures adopted following a €78 billion bailout in 2011.

The anti-euro, anti-Nato communists and Syriza-like Left Bloc will play a supporting role to the moderate Socialists in the fragile set up, but are said to have pledged not to drive Portugal out of the euro.

The leftist alliance wants to reverse cuts in pay, pensions, and public services, as well as to roll back tax increases.

Passos’ minority government warned that backtracking on austerity could put Portugal on a similar path to Greece.

But outside the parliament building on Tuesday, anti-austerity demonstrators shouted “Victory!” as news of the vote spread, while pro-government protesters sang the national anthem.

For his part, Manfred Weber, the leader of the conservative European People’s Party’s group in the European Parliament, where Passos’ party belongs, warned of the dangers of a leftist government.

“Future of people and Portugal's stability are at stake. Left-wing parties act against will of voters and winner of elections,” he wrote on his Twitter account.

A lengthy process to form a new government could deepen the political crisis.

Portugal already missed last month's deadline to present its 2016 budget guidelines to Brussels.

Investors also seemed nervous, as Lisbon's stock exchange fell on Tuesday and Monday.

Yields on 10-year bonds rose 15 basis points also rose to 2.84 per cent, compared to 2.29 per cent before the elections.

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.

Analysis

How Portugal's leftist 'contraption' works

After six months in power, the improvised left-wing coalition between socialists, leftists and communists has managed to rule and even thrived, to many Portuguese's surprise.

News in Brief

  1. Nearly 100 refugees evacuated from Libya to Italy
  2. Juncker to meet Johnson on Monday
  3. First Hungary 'Article 7' hearing set for Monday
  4. Vestager picks Danish EU ambassador as cabinet head
  5. Commissioner hearings will start 30 September
  6. Italy says EU countries agree to take in rescued migrants
  7. Germany to organise Libya conference on arms embargo
  8. European Parliament to support another Brexit delay

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  2. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  6. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  8. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  9. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  10. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  11. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat

Latest News

  1. Brexit and new commission in focus This WEEK
  2. As recession looms Europe needs more spending
  3. How should the EU handle Russia now?
  4. EU defence bravado criticised by auditors
  5. Central European leaders demand EU Balkan accession
  6. Luxembourg's cannabis legalisation is EU opportunity
  7. The Catalan National Day has been a success. Why?
  8. Why I'm voting against the von der Leyen commission

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us