The President of Portugal has refused to appoint a left wing coalition government, even though it has the majority in parliament. Instead, he has reappointed the governing right wing coalition. The leader of Left Bloc, Catarina Martins, says that her party does not accept the president's decision and the government will not be recognised by parliament.
|The leader of Left Bloc, Catarina Martins.|
IN WHAT COULD PROVE TO BE THE OPENING SALVO IN a major power struggle, the President of Portugal, Anibal Cavaco Silva, has refused to appoint a left-wing constitutional government despite the fact that the left has secured a majority in parliament.
In the October 4 election the centre-left Socialist Party attracted 32.3 percent of the popular vote and 86 seats in parliament. The Portuguese Communist Party and its Green Party allies received 8.3 percent of the popular vote and 17 seats in parliament (one more than previously), while Left Bloc swept forward with a popular vote of 10.2 percent and 19 seats in parliament, nearly doubling their previous representation.
Together the Socialists, Communists-Greens and Left Bloc have 122 seats, enough to form a government.
However Silva has reappointed the governing right wing coalition led by Pedro Passos Coelho of the Social Democratic Party even though the coalition has only 107 seats in the 230 seat parliament.
The right wing coalition imposed austerity policies on the Portuguese people with a familiar program of privatisation, budget cuts, cuts in wages and pensions and attacks on labour rights. Currently 20 percent of the population is officially classified as living in poverty, although the real figure is believed to be far higher. Portugal has a 12 percent unemployment rate.
The Telegraph has reported that Silva '...deemed it too risky to let Left Bloc or the Communists come close to power, insisting that conservatives should soldier on as a minority in order to satisfy Brussels and appease foreign financial markets."
The message could not be more clearer - democracy and the interests of ordinary Portuguese people cannot be allowed to interfere with the interests of the market. As The Telegraph has commented:
"This is a dangerous demarche. The Portuguese conservatives and their media allies behave as if the Left has no legitimate right to take power, and must be held in check by any means.....Greece’s Syriza movement, Europe’s first radical-Left government in Europe since the Second World War, was crushed into submission for daring to confront eurozone ideology. Now the Portuguese Left is running into a variant of the same meat-grinder."
The leader of the Socialist Party, Antonio Costa, has angrily described Silva's action as a “grave mistake” that threatens to engulf the country in a political firestorm. He has warned that the right-wing minority government will face an immediate vote of no confidence.
Only two days ago Left Bloc leader Catarina Martins said a centre-right coalition government would not be approved by parliament and if the president named Social Democrat Passos Coelho as prime minister "it would just be a waste of time".