Portuguese Socialist Leader Says He Can Form Next Government

  • Socialist leader Costa was defeated in Oct. 4 election
  • Premier Coelho won vote, while losing majority in parliament

Portuguese Socialist opposition leader Antonio Costa said he can form a stable government backed by a majority in parliament that would be an alternative to a new term under Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho.

“Following the talks we’ve had with the Communist Party and the Left Bloc, the conditions are in place for a government to be formed with majority support in parliament,” Costa told reporters in Lisbon on Tuesday after meeting President Anibal Cavaco Silva. “We should seek the solution that will more quickly provide the country with stability.”

The coalition led by Coelho lacks majority support in parliament, Costa said.

Premier Coelho on Oct. 4 won most seats in the country’s first general election since 2011, though his ruling coalition fell short of the majority it had in the past four years. The coalition grouping Coelho’s Social Democrats and smaller conservative party CDS would need the Socialists to at least abstain in parliament for legislation to pass.

President Cavaco Silva is having meetings with each of the parties represented in parliament on Tuesday and Wednesday before formally appointing a prime minister. Portugal is no stranger to forming minority governments, though they tend to be short-lived.

‘Seeking Survival’

The coalition won the election and should form the next government, Premier Coelho said after meeting the president.

“Appointing Pedro Passos Coelho to form a government would be a waste of time,” Left Bloc leader Catarina Martins said after her meeting with the president. The Left Bloc’s disagreements with the Socialist Party have been overcome, she said.

“I hope to see this stable solution formalized in the next few days,” Martins said. “It’s better to wait another day or two to have a serious agreement.”

Opposition leader Costa, who has proposed narrowing the deficit slightly slower than Coelho, has said he would comply with Portugal’s European Union commitments. Costa said last week that a proposal from the ruling coalition trying to reach an agreement with the Socialists was “insufficient” and that he was seeking more concessions from Coelho.

Costa is a political leader “seeking his survival,” Vice Premier Paulo Portas, who leads junior coalition party CDS, said after meeting the president. The coalition won the election and the Socialists lost, and the next step should be the appointment of Coelho as prime minister, Portas said.

Coelho’s coalition won 102 of the 230 seats in Portugal’s parliament and his Social Democratic Party won another five seats in the island regions of Madeira and Azores, where the two ruling parties ran separately in the Oct. 4 election. The Socialists have 86 members of parliament, while the Left Bloc and the Communists hold 19 and 17 seats respectively.

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