Passos Coelho reaches out to PS to decide Portugal’s political future

In a last-ditch attempt for the “political stability” that Portugal so badly needs, caretaker prime minister Pedro Passos Coelho has reached out once again to the Socialists, hours before he is due in Belém for talks with President Cavaco Silva.

Passos Coelho – whose centre-right coalition emerged from legislative elections with no majority – is due in Belém later this morning, as the countdown to who will be taking up the reins of power really begins.

Tomorrow, Cavaco will be receiving leaders of the PSD/CDS-PP coalition and the PS Socialist party, and on Wednesday he is due to talk to the minority parties: the PCP communists, Bloco de Esquerda (Left Bloc), Os Verdes (Greens) and PAN (party for People Animals and Nature).

By Thursday, the shape of Portugal’s future government should be known – yet today everything remains in the balance.

Passos Coelho has reiterated his coalition’s willingness to discuss a possible “wider coalition”, to include the PS, “if the Socialist Party really is determined to reach an agreement that envisages stability and governability”.

In a three-page letter to PS leader António Costa over the weekend, the PSD leader lamented what he termed Costa’s “irresponsible insinuations, without any foundation, on the real situation of the country” and suggested the “Socialist Party threatens to drag the country and the Portuguese people to instability and ungovernability”. It is perhaps unsurprising that, this far, newspapers describe Costa’s response as one of silence.

“An agreement is very unlikely,” reports national tabloid Correio da Manhã this morning, as pundits too remain unconvinced of Passos Coelho’s approach.

Meantime, Costa has been working towards European support for a government of the left.

Last week, president of the European parliament Martin Schulz told reporters he “hopes” Costa succeeds, as a left wing government involving the parties that amassed more votes than the Portugal à Frente coalition would be “comprehensible”.

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