News / Europe

Portugal Ousts Ruling Socialists, Moves Toward Austerity

Pedro Passos Coelho (L) leader of the center-right Social Democrat Party, PSD, is received by Portugal's President Anibal Cavaco Silva, June 6, 2011, at Belem presidential palace in Lisbon
Pedro Passos Coelho (L) leader of the center-right Social Democrat Party, PSD, is received by Portugal's President Anibal Cavaco Silva, June 6, 2011, at Belem presidential palace in Lisbon
Lauren Frayer

The new conservative prime minister is expected to slash public spending and privatize state industries, in an effort to try to tamp down Portugal's spiraling debt crisis and prevent it from being a further drain on Europe.

Supporters of the center-right Social Democrats are celebrating in the streets of Lisbon. The Social Democrats ousted Portugal's ruling Socialist Party and are expected to form a new coalition government.

That new government will be tasked with implementing austerity measures tied to a more than $114 billion bailout from the European Union and International Monetary Fund.

The man tasked with leading Portugal into this new age of austerity is the leader of the Social Democrats, Pedro Passos Coelho. He is a former businessman who has never held public office. But he says he wants to try to help Portugal earn back the trust of investors.

"I hope that the new step we are beginning now, could be the first step to a new hope for Portugal, to have a new credibility outside Portugal, and to restore confidence in the markets," said Coelho.

The incumbent prime minister, Jose Socrates, admitted defeat and said he would also resign as his party's leader.

Portugal's Socialists are the latest ruling party to suffer at the polls, as high unemployment and public debt sweep southern Europe. Three weeks ago, the ruling Socialist Party in neighboring Spain lost control of many municipalities it long considered strongholds, and is forecast to lose control of Spain's parliament in elections next year.

Portugal is one of three eurozone economies to seek EU bailouts. Greece and Ireland also have suffered political backlash from their constituents.

Iain Begg, a Europe economist at London's Chatham House, says Portugal's election results are in line with what has happened across Europe. Governments in power during the economic crisis have been blamed for it.

"The government that's getting the blame for it is the one that's being kicked out, and the government that's now doing the difficult task, it's hoping that it will be re-elected because it's confronted the problem," said Begg. "So we see volatile politics across much of Europe."

There is some optimism in Portugal, at least among Mr. Coelho's supporters, that a new government might improve conditions for citizens struggling with rising costs and stagnant wages. This voter says she is happy about electoral change.

"I'm so happy," said a Coelho supporter. "I'm so proud for Portugal and for this voting. It's everything we needed right now. I'm so, so happy."

But Begg says Portugal's new Social Democratic-led government can expect huge challenges ahead.

"A long slog. They have to collect the balance of payments deficit, they have to correct the public sector accounts deficit, and they have to make sure that the structural reforms, the long-term supply -side reforms, are on track," said Begg. "All of that simultaneously - which is never easy when the economy is not growing."

Begg says Mr. Coelho would do well to try to implement austerity measures as quickly as possible.

"A government coming into power has the mandate to make the hard decisions quickly," Begg added. "They say, 'Let's get all the bad news out of the way so that when it comes around to our re-election period, it will be forgotten. We will have already made the hard choices.'"

Mr. Coelho has promised to privatize some Portuguese state industries and scale back infrastructure projects, such as plans for a new high-speed railway.

You May Like

Turkey's Erdogan: Women Not Equal to Men

Speaking at conference in Istanbul, President Erdogan says Islam has defined a position for women: motherhood More

Ahead of SAARC Summit, Subdued Expectations

Some regional analysts say distrust between Pakistani, Indian officials has slowed SAARC's progress over the year More

Philippines Leery of Development on Reef Reclamation in S. China Sea

Chinese land reclamation projects in area have been ongoing for years, but new satellite imagery reportedly shows China’s massive construction project More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Changei
X
November 24, 2014 10:09 PM
Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid