Portugal will hold a general election on 5 June to elect a new government following the resignation of José Sócrates, the prime minister, on 23 March.
Anibal Cavaco Silva, Portugal’s president, announced the date of the election last night after accepting Sócrates’ resignation.
Sócrates, leader of the Socialist Party (PS), resigned because Portuguese opposition parties refused to approve a package of austerity measures that were designed to reassure financial markets that Portugal could meet its debt repayment obligations. Sócrates was re-elected as leader of the PS, gaining 99.3% of members’ votes, and will stand in the elections.
The next Portuguese government is expected to request a bail-out worth billions of euros from the EU and the International Monetary Fund. Investors are demanding extremely high interest rates for Portuguese government debt but the cost of these rates to the country’s economy is considered to be unsustainable.
Pedro Passos Coelho, the leader of the centre-right Social Democrats, is tipped to become the next prime minister. He said his party voted against the austerity measures proposed by the Socialist government because they did not go far enough.
Portugal’s partners in the eurozone and the European Commission have said that the next Portuguese government will have to introduce austerity measures to cut the country’s deficit.
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