Portuguese Prime Minister designate Pedro Passos Coelho (PSD) took office Tuesday, June 21, as the leader of the 19th government since Portugal’s 1974 April Revolution, 16 days following the June 5 snap elections.
As he was sworn, he said, “Portugal won’t fail,” and he added, “We can’t ignore the scope and urgency of the challenges ahead, but we won’t fear.”
The new government is formed by a total of 11 ministries, 5 less than outgoing Socialist Party (PS) government. The 11 ministries are shared between the two coalition parties in government.
The Social Democrats (PSD), who won the June 5 elections, have four ministries, while their coalition partner, the Christian Democrats (CDS-PP) have three ministries. There are four independent ministries.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs went to Paulo Portas, the leader of the coalition Christian Democrat Party (CDS-PP). The Ministry of Finance went to independent macroeconomist Vitor Gaspar. The Ministry of Education went to Nuno Crato. The Ministry of Defense went to Social Democrat José Pedro Aguiar Franco. There are two women in the new Cabinet, Paula Teixeira da Cruz, Ministry of Justice, and Assunção Cristas, Minister of Agriculture.
The new appointed Finance Minister, Vitor Gaspar, is scheduled to meet Tuesday with representatives from the International Monetary Fund, European Central Bank and European Commission, to deliberate over Portugal’s compliance with the financial bailout worth 78 billion-euro ($114 USD billion).
Under the terms of the bailout, Portugal will have to reduce its government budget deficit to 5.9% of gross domestic product this year, compared with 9.1% in 2010, and reach 4.5% in 2012 and 3% in 2013.
The new coalition government will implement 13 austerity measures, out of a total of 209 austerity measures, no later than the end of July, which includes across-the-board tax hikes, steep spending cuts and structural reforms. The measures are a condition to meet the terms of the bailout loan.
The conservative Social Democrats (PSD) won 108 seats out of 230 Parliament seats at the June 5 election, defeating the ruling Socialist Party (PS). The winning party didn’t attain a majority and a government coalition was formed with right-wing Christian Democrats (CDS-PP) holding 24 seats.