Portuguese American Journal

Crisis: President Cavaco Silva to decide whether to call early elections – Portugal

Portugal’s President Aníbal Cavaco Silva is holding two days of a new round of meetings, with representatives of the major parliamentary parties, to address the political crisis resulting from the resignation, last week,  of Minister of Finance Vitor Gaspar and Paulo Portas Minister of Foreign Affairs.

On Monday morning, the President held a meeting with representatives of the Green Party.  In the afternoon, he will meet with representatives of the Left Block Party and Communist Party. Meetings with the two major parties, the opposition Socialist Party (PS) and Prime Minister’s Social Democratic Party (PSD) will follow.

Previous meetings held on Saturday, between the Prime Minister Passos Coelho and outgoing Foreign Minister Paulo Portas, ended in a conciliatory deal. Portas withdrew his resignation and was appointed deputy prime minister in charge of coordinating Portugal’s economic policies.

The deal was submitted to the President for his approval.  Portas, who is the head of the CDS-PP, the party in the coalition with the government of Prime Minister Passos Coelho, had said his decision to resign was irrevocable.

Portas abandoned his post following the resignation of Finance Minister Vitor Gaspar swiftly replaced by Maria Luís Albuquerque. Portas disagreed with the appointment of Albuquerque who, he believes, would continue Gaspar’s austerity measures he opposes.

On Sunday, the President of the Regional Government of the Azores, Vasco Cordeiro, pressed for early elections as the solution leadingto government stability and the rebuilding of trust between the government and the Portuguese people. Sworn president  in 2012, Cordeiro is the leader of the Socialist Party (PS) in the region.

Last week, the President had met briefly with António José Seguro, the leader of the opposition Socialist Party (PS). Following the meeting, Seguro told reporters he had asked the President to call early elections. He suggested that legislative elections could be scheduled for September 29.

Arménio Carlos, the leader of CGTP, the largest Portuguese trade union federation,  called the President to dissolve parliament and call early elections.

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 and has the power to dissolve parliament and call for early elections.

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