Portugal’s ruling Socialists held onto power in Sunday’s election there but Prime Minister Jose Socrates lost his overall parliamentary majority.
It means that once celebrations are over, he will face the delicate task of either ruling alone in a minority government or trying to form a coalition. Putting difficult decisions to one side for now, the premier was full of fighting talk in his victory speech. “We have overcome many difficulties in the past and we will overcome them in the present,” he told jubilant supporters in Lisbon. “Portugal has the means to confront all its problems in the future.” The defeated centre-right PSD party had banked on its no-nonsense leader with her background in economics to convince voters. But Manuela Ferreira Leite’s “Iron Lady” reputation failed to deliver. With Portugal hit hard by the worldwide downturn, some have little confidence in anyone spearheading a recovery. Socrates may not be able to get the country out of the crisis but the others won’t either, according to one woman interviewed in the capital. “They can’t do miracles,” she said. “It is going to be difficult,” a man added. “The crisis is global. I think the other parties will need to co-operate.” The lack of a comfortable majority raises the prospect of political instability in Portugal. Some believe a new Socrates’ administration will struggle to survive a full-term.