Government on tenterhooks as President Cavaco delays resolution

More than a week after Portugal’s PSD/CDS-PP government was rejected in Parliament, the country is still hardly any closer to knowing what the next government will be or when it will be sworn in.

The left-wing alliance of PS socialists, PCP communists, green party PEV and Bloco de Esquerda wants to take the reins of the government, but President Cavaco Silva has shown no inclination to approve this.

In fact, Cavaco has even said that a “caretaker government” might not be so bad after all. “I was a prime minister during a caretaker government in 1987,” Cavaco told journalists, saying that there is no reason for the Portuguese people to worry about the political crisis.

According to the president, Portugal’s finances are in “much better shape” now than they were during the latest political crisis in 2011, and stressed that soon he is meeting with all political and social parties to come to a decision about the government’s future.

Meanwhile, PS leader António Costa is at the forefront of the opposing voices.

“I’m sure everyone agrees that the worst solution for Portugal would be a caretaker government. Even the PSD party agrees,” he said during an interview with RTP television, explaining that a caretaker government would ultimately have little power and no State Budget approved.

Presidential candidate Sampaio da Nóvoa has even said that a caretaker government would be “unconstitutional” and that the “transition period between governments should be short and treated as an exceptional situation”.

Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, the frontrunner in the presidential race, has agreed that the country cannot live without a budget for five or six months until the next president takes office.

Meantime, the ‘Portugal à Frente’ coalition has been busy meeting with jurists to find out if it is possible to make changes to the Portuguese constitution and call early elections.

Speaking to Público newspaper, however, constitution specialists Jorge Miranda e Jorge Reis Novais have agreed that this scenario won’t be possible.