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Portugal - 2011 - Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho

Passos CoelhoOn 05 June 2011 Portugal's opposition unseated the ruling Socialists in the troubled country's parliamentary election. With all votes counted, official results gave the conservative Social Democrats 108 seats and the Socialists 74 seats. The conservative People's Party [CDS-PP] won 24 seats. The Left Bloc (BE), comprising the younger left, won 8 seats, the Portuguese Communist Party (PCP) won 14 seats, and the "other" leftist party, the Greens (PEV), which ran together with the PCP as the PCP/PEV coalition, won 2 seats.

Portugal's Socialists were the latest ruling party to suffer at the polls, as high unemployment and public debt sweep southern Europe. Portugal is one of three eurozone economies to seek EU bailouts. Greece and Ireland also have suffered political backlash from their constituents.

Since 15 June 2011 Portugal was ruled by a PSD-CDS center right coalition Government led by Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho (PSD leader). Pedro Passos Coelho was born in Coimbra in 1964. He lived in Angola until the age of nine and spent his teenage years in Vila Real. Paulo Portas, the leader of the CDS junior coalition partner, was the Foreign Minister.

The new government was largely preoccupied with the implementation of broad austerity measures pursuant to the agreement. The new government was tasked with implementing austerity measures tied to a more than $114 billion bailout from the European Union and International Monetary Fund. They have to collect the balance of payments deficit, they have to correct the public sector accounts deficit, and they have to make sure that the structural reforms, the long-term supply -side reforms, are on track. Coelho has promised to privatize some Portuguese state industries and scale back infrastructure projects, such as plans for a new high-speed railway.

Key guidelines of the government program, largely coincided with the Prime Ministers strategy to be more liberal, favorable to private initiative and a smaller State, and a more flexible labour market to promote employment and growth. Some of the highlights include the privatisation of TAP and of one of the State TV channels; mutual agreement dismissals in the civil service; the reduction of employers contributions towards social security and unemployment scheme; and a review of the State pension scheme to allow the choice of private schemes from above a certain ceiling.

Social Democrat Anibal Cavaco Silva, a center-right candidate and former prime minister (1985-1995), won the Portuguese presidential election on 22 January 2006 with 50.6% of the vote, becoming Portugals first center-right head of state in three decades. He was re-elected on January 23, 2011 with 53% of the vote and was sworn in on March 9, 2011.

Portugal is one of the eurozone's smaller economies, representing less than 2 percent of the 19-nation bloc's gross domestic product. But when things go wrong, it can feel much bigger. Portugal's near-bankruptcy in 2011 amid the eurozone debt crisis, which also knocked the wind out of Greece and Ireland, generated fears of a domino effect that threatened its larger neighbor Spain.

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