Portugal's continued stubbornness in resisting a bailout is frustrating EU leaders who have reached agreement in Brussels on a comprehensive financial bailout fund that they hope will resolve Europe's debt crisis.
After months of negotiation, only details remain to be tidied up for a permanent new version of the European Stability Mechanism to help troubled eurozone countries.
Meanwhile, caretaker Prime Minister José Sócrates is sticking by his insistence that Portugal will not follow Greece and Ireland in seeking a rescue package.
It is generally accepted in Brussels, however, that it is only a matter of time before Portugal will have to bow to pressure and request outside financial help.
The political as well as economic mess Portugal finds itself in has overshadowed what was to have been an upbeat summit in Brussels.
In Lisbon, the outcome is awaited of discussions between President Aníbal Cavaco Silva and the six political parties represented in parliament on whether they would prefer to form a coalition government or go for an early election. The latter seems more likely, probably in May or early June.
An opinion poll published today showed that the lSocial Democrats would win an absolute majority if elections were held now.