Left-wing alliance “ready to form Portugal’s next government”

With the clock ticking towards the announcement the country is waiting for, national media this morning is focused on the increasing likelihood of PS leader António Costa leading Portugal’s next government.

Público, Diário de Notícias, SIC, Correio da Manhã, Jornali et al are all pointing to the fact that Costa appears convinced that he can offer a viable majority government that will take the country through the next four years, without the risk of early elections.

Talking on SIC TV last night, the Socialist leader said his party had informed Cavaco Silva in meetings yesterday that it had the “conditions” to form a government which would have a majority in parliament and ensure Portugal’s stability.

Costa was backed by Left Bloc leader Catarina Martins, who said the new left-wing alliance would protect jobs, salaries and pensions – and who stressed that there was no point in Cavaco Silva opting for the “Portugal à Frente” coalition – led by Passos Coelho, and backed by Paulo Portas – as this would be a “waste of time”.

As Costa explained, the latter solution would “not be viable” and would simply “prolong uncertainty” which is the last thing Portugal needs with Brussels already making noises about a possible case against Portugal for breaking European law over its failure to send in budgetary forecasts, and with international investors admitting to “the jitters” attached to a weak government.

But the bottom line is that one of the parties in this new alliance of the left is still keeping very silent.

The PCP (communists) have yet to say anything about an eventual alliance – although leader Jerónimo de Sousa has long maintained a majority left-wing government is feasible.

Whether his party really can agree to back one – and support a number of policies that they are against – remains unclear.

As DN suggested on Wednesday, “everything is pointing to a middle-term solution which will increase the income of the country’s poorest”.

Meantime, the caretaker government insists that it should be returned to power, although it does not have a majority and would likely fall mid-term without one.

Deputy PM Portas has been customarily scathing of Costa’s attempts to form a majority alliance, saying it is “absolutely extraordinary that a political leader fighting for his survival” could even consider overriding what Portas believes was “the vote of the people”.

[email protected]