Portugal’s voters return ruling coalition to power

Portuguese prime minister Pedro Passos Coelho’s ruling coalition won yesterday’s general election, television station RTP’s exit poll indicated last night.

The coalition won between 38% and 43% of the vote, which may represent between 108 and 116 seats in parliament, according to the poll by the Catholic University for RTP. The opposition Socialist Party took between 30% and 35% of the vote, or between 80 and 88 seats in parliament.

Portugal’s parliament has 230 seats, meaning at least 116 are needed for a majority.

Moderate mainstream parties were expected to triumph, after more radical alternatives failed to exploit public discontent over austerity measures. This was despite enacting tax increases and cutting pay, pensions and public services over the past four years.

Those policies were part of a eurozone plan to restore the bloc’s financial health following its debt crisis. The government has warned the country can’t afford to go back to the borrow-and-spend programmes of the past and must remain frugal until its debt load is lower. The government’s closest rival was the centre-left Socialist Party, the main opposition force, which also accepts eurozone financial rules but promises to start easing the tax burden and speed up growth through domestic consumption.

Unlike in some other countries, no prominent radical parties fighting austerity had emerged.



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