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

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology 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.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
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 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.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

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