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

Video Indiana Controversy Points to Divergent Notions of Religious Freedom

Gay-marriage opponents are looking for ways to maintain their beliefs in face of changing culture, one writer says More

UNICEF Denies North Korean Measles Outbreak

Agency dismisses Russian media report after government, WHO assurances More

Turkey Seen Taking Harder Stance Against Militant Kurds

Stance comes as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is being seen as moving closer to generals 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.
Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedomi
X
Jerome Socolovsky
April 01, 2015 1:41 AM
Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedom

Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Nigerians Welcome Buhari's Return to Power

Crowds of jubilant Nigerians nationwide have celebrated the return to power of former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari. The retired army general won this year's presidential election with more than 2 million votes more than incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan. Buhari's supporters hope he can strengthen the country's economy and security once he takes office in late May. Zlatica Hoke has this story.
Video

Video Report: State of Black America a 'Tale of Two Nations'

The National Urban League has described this year's "State of Black America" report as a "tale of two nations." The group's annual report, released earlier this month (March), found that under an equality index African Americans had only 72% parity compared to whites in areas such as education, economics, health, social justice and civic engagement. It’s a gap that educators and students at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College are looking to close. VOA's Daniela Schrier reports from the school.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Gamma Ray Observatory to Open Soon in Mexico

American and Mexican scientists have completed construction of the world's largest gamma ray observatory, situated high in central Mexico’s Sierra Negra Mountain. The observatory's huge array of water-based detectors will soon start discovering secrets about black holes and supernovas. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials Underway in West Africa

Ebola has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people in West Africa. Since last summer, researchers have rushed to get anti-Ebola vaccines into clinical trials. While it's too early to say that any of the potential vaccines work, some scientists say they are seeing strong results from some of the studies. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.

VOA Blogs

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