Portugal’s Prime Minister Jose Socrates has stepped down after his government’s latest austerity package was rejected in parliament.
In a resignation speech, he had harsh words for the opposition, which voted en masse against moves which would reduce pensions and state spending. Its support was needed by his minority Socialist administration to get the measures through.
Socrates had vowed to quit if defeated, saying rejection of the package would force debt-laden Portugal to seek an international bailout, like Greece and Ireland.
Having handed in his resignation to the President, Socrates looks set to stay on as prime minister in a caretaker capacity until Portugal’s political crisis is resolved. That could mean a snap election as early as May or June.