With the result in Sunday’s general election too close to call Portugal’s outgoing Prime Minister Jose Socrates knows the opposition is favourite to win, but after six years in power he shows no signs of giving up hope.
Whoever wins will have to face record unemployment, a contracting economy, and apply the tough austerity measures imposed on Portugal in return for its 78 billion-euro bailout.
The Social Democrat’s Pedro Passos Coelho triggered this early poll when he refused to back Socrates’ austerity plan, but under the terms of the bailout he will have to implement it anyway. He may need the support of the CDS-PP’s Paulo Portas in coalition to form a majority, something Socrates lacked since 2009, and which prevented him from taking more decisive action.
So a new PSD-led government might have more power, but it will still have to contend with street protests. Young Portuguese have occupied the centre of Lisbon, like their peers in Spain, calling for jobs. Others may be protesting soon.