In a much anticipated address, today Portugal’s President Anibal Cavaco Silva rejected the opposition parties’ demands for early elections in September 2013, while keeping the coalition government of Prime Minister Passos Coelho in place and calling early elections for July, 2014.
The President also proposed the formation of a “national salvation” alliance with the major national parties, the Social Democrats (PSD), the Socialist Party (PS) and the Christian Democrats (CDS-PP) to oversee the national crisis until the short-term early elections he has just proposed.
According to the President, earlier snap elections in 2013 would be “extremely negative” for Portugal’s credibility, before the country complies with the demands of a 78-billion-euro ($100 billion) bailout requested in 2011, which term ends June 2014.
President Anibal Cavaco Silva made his announcement on a televised statement after two days of meetings with the country’s political parties, following a political crisis resulting from the resignations of Minster of Finance Vitor Gaspar and Paulo Portas Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Paulo Portas is also the leader of CDS-PP, the party in the ruling coalition of Prime Minister Passos Coelho (PSD).
In a reconciliatory move, Paulo Portas has retracted his resignation while Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho has promoted him to his deputy prime minister in charge of coordinating Portugal’s economic policies. In his resignation letter, Paulo Portas had said his decision to resign was irrevocable.
Last week, António José Seguro, the leader of the opposition Socialist Party (PS) had asked President Cavaco Silva to call early elections in September.
Over the weekend, the President of the Regional Government of the Azores, Vasco Cordeiro, also pressed the President to call early elections as the solution leading for government stability. President Vasco Cordeiro is the leader of the Socialist Party (PS) in the region.
The center-right government of Passos Coelho (PSD) came to power in early elections June 2011, after the policies of the former Socialist government had failed and a bailout of 78 billion euros was requested from the IMF and EU to fund the national debt.
Aníbal Cavaco Silva was elected for a first term as president in 2006 and re-elected in 2011. Under the Portuguese constitution, although the post of the Portuguese president is largely ceremonial and the executive power lies with the prime-minister, the President can act to mediate in political crises, dissolve parliament and call early elections.