Brussels (Brussels Morning) Portugal’s President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa has called a snap election, setting it for 30 January next year. This follows last week’s parliamentary defeat of the government’s 2022 budget bill, which brought an end to more than six years of political stability.
Socialists’ Prime Minister Antonio Costa’s minority government was left without parliamentary allies as its former partners, the Left Bloc and the Communists, sided with all right-wing parties in rejecting the budget proposal, making it clear the government can no longer achieve a majority.
“In moments like this, there is always a solution in democracy, without drama or fears… to give the word back to the people”, de Sousa said in a televised address, announcing the snap election. “It is the only way to allow the Portuguese to decide what they want for the coming years.”
The President stressed that the people wanted the budget to be approved, since Portugal is still recovering from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. The defeat in parliament had left him with no other option. The next regular elections would still be two years away.
Costa’s minority government has ruled Portugal since 2015, counting on support from its left-wing allies to push key laws through the parliament. Socialists’ deputy leader Jose Luis Carneiro said his party tried everything to avoid the current political crisis, and urged the citizens to go out and vote in the elections.
Polls indicate that the elections are unlikely to return a clear winner, with the Socialists still standing at the same 36% level of support they had in the 2019 election, while the largest opposition party, the centre-right Social Democrats, is at about 27%. Neither party seems likely to be able to command a majority, even with its potential allies.