Portugal: President calls early parliamentary elections on January 30, 2022

The ballot should normally have been organized in the autumn of 2023. But the Portuguese President, the conservative Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, announced, Thursday, November 4, the dissolution of Parliament and the convening of early legislative elections on January 30, in order to overcoming the deadlock caused by the rejection of the 2022 budget by the socialist government, at odds with its former far-left allies.

The some nine million voters will be called to the polls for the third time in the space of a year, after the presidential election last January and the municipal elections at the end of September.

The rejection of the budget “Totally reduced the government’s support base”, while 2022 will be “A decisive year for the sustainable exit from the pandemic and the social crisis that has hit us”, argued the head of state in a televised address on Thursday evening. “In times like this, in a democracy, there is always the solution, without drama or fear (…), to give the voice back to the people ”, said the head of state. The Council of State, an advisory body, approved on Wednesday Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa’s proposal to dissolve Parliament after the rejection of the draft budget.

Antonio Costa, who arrived in 2015 at the head of a minority government supported by the Left Bloc and the Communist Party, had already promised to campaign for “A strong, stable and lasting majority”. On the right, the two Conservative parties are plagued by internal divisions that may benefit the far-right Chega party. Opposition leader Rui Rio risks his seat in the December 4 by-elections, which will serve as his primary opponent of MEP Paulo Rangel.

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Finance law to revive the economy

Even before the rejection of the finance bill for 2022, which plunged Portugal into crisis a week ago, the president warned that this would have the consequence of bringing forward the date of the legislative elections normally scheduled for the autumn. 2023. The Head of State sought to force a compromise between the government and the parties of the radical left because, according to him, the finance law was ” basic “ to revive the economy thanks to European funds from the post-covid recovery plan.

On October 27, the radical left parties voted alongside the right-wing opposition to reject the finance bill submitted by the minority government, sealing the end of the alliance that had allowed it to rule Portugal since. end of 2015.

While awaiting the organization of the poll, Mr. Costa, who has ruled out resigning on his own and promised to lead the Socialist campaign, will remain at the head of a government with reduced powers.

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Le Monde with AFP and Reuters

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Portugal: President calls early parliamentary elections on January 30, 2022