Monday, June 6, 2011

Portugal opposition wins elections

Pedro Passos Coelho, leader of the center-right Social Democratic Party, casts his ballot in Portugal's general elections Sunday, June 5, 2011

Source: Press TV

Portugal's ruling Socialist Party has lost the general elections, as it sought a bailout package, which would bring strict austerity measures, to save the country's economy.

The centre-right Social Democrats (PSD) received 42.5 percent of the votes, while the Socialists that have been in power since 2005, received 24.4 percent, AFP reported.

"This defeat is mine and I feel it is necessary to open a new political cycle that is able to prepare a consistent alternative," outgoing Portuguese Prime Minister Jose Socrates said on Sunday to his party supporters.

"I want to give the Socialist Party the space to discuss its future and select a new leadership," he added, as he had in March 2011, announced his resignation.

The Democratic and Social Centre - People's Party (CDS-PP) - came third with 10.9 percent of the votes.

This gives the two right-leaning parties of the country, more than half of the votes.

However, only 57.7 percent of the eligible voters participated, 2 percent less than the 2009 general elections in the country.

The new government will take over following a deal with the IMF and the EU which requires Portugal to take strict austerity measures in return for a EUR 78 billion bailout.

The results were as expected, due to the heated debate on the bailout package, as Portugal is in its highest level of unemployment for three decades.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, who is Portuguese, said “Given the economic and financial situation in the country, I consider this election the most important since the first ballots after April 25 (in 1974 that saw the country overthrow their dictator Antonio Salazar)."

With a public debt of 93 percent of gross domestic product in 2010, Portugal was the third country to succumb in the eurozone debt crisis and seek financial assistance, after Greece and Ireland.

Additionally, the economy is predicted to decline by two percent in 2011 and 2012.

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