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

Myanmar Fighting Poses Dilemma for China

To gain some insight into conflict, VOA’s Steve Herman spoke with Min Zaw Oo, director of ceasefire negotiation and implementation at Myanmar Peace Center More

Australia Concerned Over Islamic State 'Brides'

Canberra believes there are between 30 and 40 Australian women who have taken part in terror attacks or are supporting the Islamic State terror network More

Recreational Marijuana Use Now Legal in Washington, DC

Law allows adults 21 and over to privately possess and smoke 0.05 kilogram of pot, and to grow small amounts of the plant 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.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More