• Premier Coelho won elections without a majority in parliament
  • President asks for stable government, compliance with EU rules

Portuguese President Anibal Cavaco Silva asked Social Democrat leader Pedro Passos Coelho to try to form a government after his ruling coalition won an election on Sunday.

“Taking into account the results of the parliamentary elections, in which no political force had a majority of votes, I asked Pedro Passos Coelho to evaluate the possibilities of forming a government solution that ensures political stability,” Silva said in a televised address today. The new government must comply with European rules on budget discipline, ensure debt sustainability and the country should follow “a path of sustainable economic growth and job creation.”

Prime Minister Coelho on Oct. 4 won the nation’s first general election since completing a bailout program. His coalition won 99 of the 230 seats in Portugal’s parliament, short of the majority he had in the last four years. The Socialists are the biggest opposition party with 85 seats. Four seats are still to be allocated.

Without a majority, the ruling coalition will need a helping hand from the Socialists, who will have to at least abstain in parliament for legislation to pass. Portugal is no stranger to forming minority governments, though they tend to be short-lived. It’s more than 15 years since Socialist leader Antonio Guterres led the only minority government in Portugal to survive a full term since 1974, when a four-decade dictatorship ended.

The president still needs to meet the other parties represented in parliament and wait for all the votes to be counted before formally appointing the prime minister.

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