Portugal govt wins parliamentary approval without vote

The Portuguese government won parliamentary approval for a programme that includes large-scale infrastructure spending to fight unemployment.

Portugal govt wins parliamentary approval without vote

The Portuguese government won parliamentary approval on Friday for a programme that includes large-scale infrastructure spending to fight unemployment and the worst recession since the 1975 revolution.

But the opposition, noting that the ruling Socialists had emerged from the recent election without an absolute majority, said they would be more critical of future legislation.

Analysts said a motion to reject the programme could have led to a confidence vote and a political crisis -- which none of the opposition parties wanted to provoke, even if they disagreed with the programme.

The government can expect rougher opposition in future, especially parliament starts discussing the 2010 budget by year-end.

"The government comes out of here endorsed by parliament and so authorised to start performing its functions," Prime Minister Jose Socrates said after two days of debate on the programme.

"This is the moment to start working, giving inspiration, hope and confidence to the Portuguese in terms of resolving the crisis ... promoting growth and modernizing the country."

The centre-left Socialists won a second term in a Sept. 27 election, but will have to negotiate support with other parties on a case-by-case basis after losing their majority.

In a sign that that may prove a daunting task, Jose Aguiar Branco, head of the centre-right PSD party's parliament group, said Socrates no longer has "a government that can give orders to parliament".

"Orders to approve this or that legislation are over ... He cannot continue to ignore this parliament's questions and demands," Aguiar Branco said.

The PSD, the largest opposition party with 81 seats in the 230-seat parliament, has objected to public spending on large projects like high-speed train lines saying this would make Portugal's debt unsustainable. The Socialists have 97 seats.

Francisco Louca, the leader of the Left Bloc, said two days of debate had shown the "government has no ambition to solve the country's biggest problems" like corruption, the future of the social security system and unemployment.

But opposition leaders have said they will not obstruct the government without reason as it struggles to drag Portugal out the deepest recession since the 1975 revolution.

Western Europe's poorest country needs swiftly to address problems such as rising debt and unemployment, a growing budget deficit and a widening wealth gap with European partners.

Next year's budget guidelines are not ready yet. The central bank said recently it might be able to change its 2010 GDP forecast to a small rise from a 0.6 percent fall. The government expects a 3.4 percent fall in GDP this year.

Reuters

Güncelleme Tarihi: 06 Kasım 2009, 20:51
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