Passos Coelho wants new elections as centre-right go on the attack

In the latest twist in the death-throes of the PSD-CDS coalition government, outgoing PM Pedro Passos Coelho is demanding new elections and the rapid constitutional rewrite that these would entail.

At a rabble-rousing public session called by his centre-right alliance in Lisbon yesterday, Passos Coelho said: “I am entirely available to give my support to an extraordinary constitutional revision that guarantees the possibility of dissolving Parliament so that the Portuguese people can decide on its government.”

Such a revision would require the support of two-thirds of MPs and, as one paper explains, this means it could be pushed through without the votes of the PS Socialist party that is gunning to lead the next legislature.

Technicalities aside, however, the defeated coalition is now well and truly on the attack.

Calling the left-wing alliance that brought it down “electoral fraud”, Passos Coelho has challenged the Socialists saying: “If those who seek to take our place do not want to govern like plotters in a coup, they should accept this constitutional revision and allow the holding of new elections.”

Meantime, the JSD youth arm of his party has come up with its own ideas for a future election poster, depicting Lenin, feisty Left Bloc leader Catarina Martins, the Communist hammer and sickle above PCP leader Jerónimo Martins, and a centre picture of Socialist leader António Costa looking distinctly tanned.

“Is this what you voted for?” runs the underlying text.

With ‘fear’ being plugged to the full, today’s development follows dire warnings sounded by business leaders yesterday over a future left-wing alliance being allowed to run the country.

President Cavaco Silva is today continuing to hear Portugal’s “social partners” before he makes any public statements, while Socialist leader António Costa has poo-pooed the call for new elections, saying now is not the time for an institutional crisis.

As for “electoral fraud”, Costa refuted the accusation, saying the PSD-CDS would be guilty of it if they took power given the result of last month’s elections.