Portugal's Socialists Seek More Concessions From Premier Coelho

Portuguese Socialist leader Antonio Costa said a proposal from the ruling coalition that’s trying to get consent for a new government was “insufficient” and his opposition party will respond with a list of measures it’s seeking.

The necessary measures include changing income tax brackets and cutting the value-added tax rate charged at restaurants, Costa said after meeting Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho on Tuesday evening. “The Portuguese voted and said they want a reorientation of policy.”

Premier Coelho on Oct. 4 won 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 will now need a helping hand from the Socialists, who will have to at least abstain in parliament for legislation to pass.

Costa said the Socialists are not a party of “obstruction” and that the coalition has an opportunity to govern following the election. He’s also been meeting the Left Bloc and Communist parties to assess the possibility of forming an alternative government. Costa said on Tuesday that there are differences with the Communists.

The meeting with the Socialists ended in a “completely inconclusive way,” Prime Minister Coelho said. “We need to know what the Socialist Party wants and that hasn’t been made clear yet.” Coelho says he’s now awaiting a proposal from the Socialists and is willing to make concessions while complying with European Union budget deficit rules.

“It’s very important for the country that there’s a clear government solution soon,’’ Costa said. “There’s nothing worse than uncertainty.”

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