Portuguese President begins second term

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Portuguese President begins second term

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His position might be largely ceremonial but Anibal Cavaco Silva’s political skills could be swiftly put to the test.

Elected for a second term as President of Portugal, the 71-year-old has the power to dismiss the Prime Minister and call a fresh election.

Cavaco Silva won more than 50 percent of the vote compared to around 19 percent for his rival, Manuel Alegre.

But turnout was low at only 50 percent.

He told supporters that improving unemployment and the economy are strategic, national priorities. He has been a key ally of the minority Socialist government’s drive to slash the huge budget deficit with tough austerity measures.

Shivering in historic cold temperatures, Portugal is weathering an economic storm as well. Pay cuts, tax hikes and rising unemployment have led many to feel disillusioned.

The concern is that Portugal will follow Greece and Ireland and ask for an EU-IMF bailout.

Cavaco Silva’s Social Democrats are in opposition to the Socialists in power and some say this might put him under pressure to exert his authority and dismiss the government.