President designates Socialist Party leader as PM


President Aníbal Cavaco Silva has designated the Socialist Party leader, Dr. António Costa, as the new Prime Minister of Portugal following the general election on 4th October.

The delay had been caused initially because the president had given the post to the incumbent Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho’s from the centre-right Portugal Ahead or Portugal Alliance as the largest group in parliament. But on 10th November the government programme was voted down leaving the president two choices, to call fresh elections or to allow the socialists in alliance with two far-left parties including the communists to form a government.

After several weeks the president asked for six assurances of the Socialist Party (PS) which will form a minority government with the support of the left-wing Left Bloc (BE) and the far-left Democratic Unity Coalition (CDU). The Socialist Party has 86 seats but between the three parties they hold 122 of the 230 seats in the Assembly of the Republic.

Both the Left Bloc and Democratic Unity Coalition have opposed the previous government’s austerity programmes, are against European Union budgetary requirements and oppose Portugal’s membership of NATO.

Below are the two press releases as published on the presidential website announcing the appointment of the new prime minister and the assurances required for his appointment:

“President of the Republic designated PS Secretary General as Prime Minister

Following the audience granted today by the President of the Republic to the Secretary General of the Socialist Party, Dr. António Costa, the Presidency of the Republic publishes the following note:

“Opinions received at the meetings held with social partners and institutions and civil society individualities, confirmed that the continuity in office of the XX Constitutional Government, limited to the practice of the necessary actions to ensure the management of public affairs would not be attuned with national interests.

This situation would be maintained for an indefinite length of time, given the impossibility, dictated by the Constitution, to wait until April of next year, to dissolve Parliament and call for a general election.

The President of the Republic duly noted the answer of the Secretary General of the Socialist Party to the doubts evoked by the documents subscribed by the Left Wing Block, by the Portuguese Communist Party and by the Ecologist Party “The Greens”, as to the stability and durability of a minority government of the Socialist Party, within the period of a legislature.

As such, the President of the republic decided, after hearing the political parties represented in Parliament, to designate Dr. António Costa as Prime Minister”

The press release outlining the six assurances required by the president of the Socialist Party as published on the presidential website is as follows:

“Presidency of the Republic discloses document handed to Secretary General of the Socialist Party

The President of the Republic received in audience, today, the Secretary General of the Socialist Party, to whom he handed the following document containing issues concerning a future governance solution:

Considering the political crisis resulting from the approval by Parliament of the proposal to reject the programme of the XX Constitutional Government which, in the terms of Article No. 195 of the Constitution of the Portuguese Republic, implies its dismissal, the President of the Republic decided, after hearing the opinions of the political parties holding seats in Parliament, of the social partners and other individualities concerned with the Country’s economy, to commission the Secretary General of the Socialist Party to present a stable, durable and credible governance solution.

As such, the President of the Republic requested from the Secretary General of the Socialist Party the formal clarification of the issues that, omitted in the distinct and asymmetric documents, subscribed between the Socialist Party, the Left Wing Block, the Portuguese Communist Party and the Ecologist Party “The Greens”, induce doubts as to the stability and durability of a minority government formed by the Socialist Party, within the period of a legislature:

a) Approval of confidence motions;
b) Approval of State Budgets, particularly the 2016 Budget;
c) Compliance with the rules of budgetary discipline applying to all Euro Zone countries and subscribed by the Portuguese State, specifically those resulting from the Stability and Growth Pact, from the Budgetary Treaty, from the European Stability Mechanism and from Portugal’s participation in the Economic and Monetary Union and in the Banking Union;
d) Respect for Portugal’s international commitments within the collective defence organizations;
e) The role of the Standing Committee of Social Consultation, given the relevance of its contribution to social cohesion and to the Country’s development;
f) Stability of the financial system, given its fundamental role in the financing of the Portuguese economy.

The clarifying of these issues is all the more decisive, since the continuity of a government exclusively comprised by the Socialist Party depends upon the parliamentary support of the political factions with which it subscribed the documents “Joint Position on the political situation” and as to the sustainability of the economic recovery, of job creation, and of the guarantee that the financing of the State and of the economy will be maintained throughout the whole of the XIII legislature.”

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