Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Portuguese prime minister steps down

Portuguese Prime Minister Jose Socrates

Source: Press TV

Portuguese Prime Minister Jose Socrates has stepped down after the parliament voted against the latest package of austerity measures offered by his minority government.

Socrates announced his resignation on Wednesday as EU members are expected to hold a key summit on the eurozone debt crisis on Thursday.

"The opposition removed from the government the conditions to govern. As a result I have presented my resignation to the president," he said after his meeting with President Anibal Cavaco Silva, AFP reported.

"Today every opposition party rejected the measures proposed by the government to prevent that Portugal resort to external aid," Socrates said during a televised address.

Socrates's ruling Socialist Party only has support of 97 lawmakers in the 230-seat parliament.

The main opposition centre-right Social Democratic Party (PSD) along with smaller parties on the left and right blocked new austerity plans which include further takes hikes and cuts to social spending.

The PSD believes the measures would hurt the poorest levels of society hardest.

"This crisis will have very serious consequences in terms of the confidence Portugal needs to enjoy with institutions and financial markets," Socrates said.

The political crisis in Portugal came as crisis-hit country needs hefty loans to pay off its nine billion euro ($12.9 billion) debt bill by a June 15 deadline.

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