Portugal shifts to the right, coalition expected

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Portugal shifts to the right, coalition expected

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Portugal’s Social-Democrats are expected to put together a centre-right coalition after beating the socialists in the country’s snap election.

The PSD won 105 places in the 230-seat parliament. Along with the 24 MPs of the right-wing CDS the result would be a strong majority.

Portugal got a 78-billion euro bailout last month to sidestep financial collapse.

The IMF and the EU said the country has to cut public spending, sell-off nationalised industries and raise taxes in return for the rescue, all policies that the centre-right already advocates.

Prime minister-elect Pedro Passos Coelho said “we’ll do everything we can to honour the engagement between the Portuguese state, the EU and the IMF to take Portugal away from the external bailout that was needed and regain the markets’ confidence in Portugal because this is essential to recover our own confidence in the country.”

Outgoing prime minister Jose Socrates took full responsibility for the defeat. It was the socialists’ worst result for 20 years. He stood down as head of the party.

It was his failure to get new austerity measures through parliament that triggered the collapse of the government and led to the early ballot.

But despite the gravity of the backdrop to the election, a record 41 percent of the Portuguese voting population abstained.