Thursday 17 October 2019

Portugal voters reject party that drove EU bailout

Portugal's Social Democrats unseated the Socialist government in an emphatic election victory, giving the centre-right party a strong mandate to enact a grinding austerity programme in return for a €78bn EU bailout.

Though the severe debt-reduction measures are expected to pitch the country into deep recession and bring sharply lower living standards, parties that support the effort to restore fiscal health collected around 80pc of the vote.


That outcome is reassuring for European leaders keen to draw a line under the continent's debt crisis which they have battled to vanquish for more than a year, especially as Greece's financial woes continue to worry investors.

The Social Democratic Party had 105 politicians in the 230-seat Parliament compared with 73 for the second-placed Socialists. The Social Democrat share represented about 39pc of the vote. The centre-left Socialists' share was 28pc.

Social Democrat leader Pedro Passos Coelho, who will likely become prime minister, taking over from Socialist Jose Socrates, said his government "will do everything in its power to overcome the great difficulties we face and also provide assurances that (Portugal) won't be a financial burden" on Europe.

As Social Democrat supporters waving the party's white-and-orange flags poured into Lisbon's main street, the Avenida da Liberdade, to celebrate their triumph, Mr Passos Coelho said he aimed to restore market confidence in the country and provide "a window of hope" for the Portuguese.

Though the Social Democrats fell short of an absolute majority in Parliament, they could turn for support to the conservative Popular Party, which snared 24 seats.


The Socialists have also given their blessing to the debt-reduction conditions for receiving the bailout.

As in Ireland, where the governing party lost heavily in an election after taking a bailout and adopting austerity policies, they paid heavily for the economic downturn.


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