Motions of censure promise to bring down Passos Coelho’s government

As the dust settles on the “many messages” in President Cavaco Silva’s speech last night, certain facts have become clear. Motions of censure are promised by all the left-wing parties, including the PS Socialists. Cavaco may have spoken, but his words have failed to bring any kind of calm to Portugal’s political situation, affirms national media. On the contrary, they have simply inflamed it.

Diário de Notícias writes: “If there was any doubt, it vanished yesterday completely: the PS will vote for the rejection of Passos Coelho’s government programme, aligning itself with the BE (Left Bloc), PCP (communists) and PEV (green party).”

Both BE and the PCP “have already announced they will be presenting motions of rejection to the programme of the PSD/CDS coalition, but now what is on the table is another hypothesis: a joint motion undersigned by all four left-wing parliamentary parties (PS+BE+PCP+PEV)”.

Indeed, President Cavaco Silva’s decision to take the “constitutional path” and appoint as prime minister the man whose party won the largest number of votes – despite the fact that these will still not be enough to run the country with any kind of majority – has united the left in a way that few thought possible.

Writing on his Facebook page, PS MP Bernardo Trindade – a close ally of the party’s leader António Costa – said that what brings left-wing parties together is now “incomparably greater than that which separates them”.

Anyone having coffee in a local café this morning will hear Portuguese voices predicting the time limit of Passos Coelho’s new government.

“A week and a half” appears to be the consensus – which corresponds to the 10 days that the coalition has to present its future programme.

Setting out the next steps, Correio da Manhã explains that any motion of censure will require 116 votes.

With left-wing parties holding 122 votes and the coalition mustering only 108, the likelihood is that the government will fall.

Cavaco would then have two options, says CM: either to appoint a new prime minister, or refuse the alternative available and opt for a caretaker government which would have to run until March next year.

With Cavaco due to stand down in January, he is prevented from dissolving parliament and calling new elections.

This would have to be up to the new president, who will only take over in March, explains CM.

And if new elections are the option, these would be unlikely to take place before June next year.

Meantime, the analysis of Cavaco’s “very tough” speech and what it means continues.

DN runs with the headline “Cavaco refutes the credibility of a left-wing government” – suggesting that even if Passos Coelho’s government falls, the president would be unlikely to call António Costa to replace him.

With right-wing European leaders applauding the news, the future remains as uncertain today as it was before President Cavaco announced his decision.