Friday, April 1, 2011

General election two months away

Following the formal dissolution of parliament yesterday it was announced that the next general election in Portugal will be held on June 5.

In making the announcement, President Aníbal Cavaco Silva said: “I took the decision to call a general election given the clear degradation of the political situation, shown by the growing difficulty of the minority government and the opposition in agreeing on measures to overcome the economic and social problems Portugal faces.”

He called for a "sober, constructive and enlightened” campaign and said candidates should not make promises that cannot be fulfilled. It is not a time for "illusions or false utopias," he said.

The centre-right Social Democrats, the main opposition to the Socialist government under José Sócrates, say they are confident of winning a majority in the next parliament. This is in line with recent opinion polls.

The next government is expected to face an unprecedented economic crisis. The presumption of most analysts and commentators remains that Portugal will be forced to follow Greece and Ireland in seeking a bailout from the European Union and International Monetary Fund.

Portugal today sold 1.65 billion euros in an extraordinary sale of short-term bonds, but analysts said its high cost of borrowing was still likely to force it into an international bailout within months, according to Reuters.

"Revised budget figures for last year have added to Lisbon's woes as it faces making 12 billion worth of debt payments in April and June that investors speculate may push state finances over the edge," the agency reports.

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