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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Portugal's Socialists Confident After Win

LISBON -- Portugal's triumphant Socialist Party was confident Monday of forming a stable and durable government despite falling short of an absolute parliamentary majority in Sunday's vote.


"I believe the Socialist vote was sufficiently strong and clear to guarantee a government lasting the whole of the legislature's four-year life," senior party official Joaquim Pina Moura said in a radio interview.


The Socialist Party had its best ever result Sunday, winning just under 44 percent of the vote to end a decade of rule by the Social Democrats, or PSD.


Although the final count looks set to leave the Socialists a few seats short of outright control of the 230-member parliament, party officials said they would not seek a coalition partner but would instead form a minority government.


However that could take some days as there are still eight seats in parliament to be awarded -- the four elected by Portugal's emigrants and four constituencies where the ballot will be re-taken after local protestors prevented voting. The two votes will be held on Oct. 8 and Oct. 11.


Political analysts expected the Socialist Party, which had never won more than 37 percent in a national election before, to end up with 112 seats to the center-right PSD's 88 with the hard-left Communist Party and the right-wing Popular Party having 15 each.


After the Socialists, the Popular Party was the other big winner in Sunday's vote, tripling its parliamentary presence from the five members it held in the previous legislature.


A Socialist victory had been widely predicted by the opinion polls and the fact that the party nearly secured an absolute majority was reassuring for financial markets which had feared the instability that could come with a weak administration. In the decade following the 1974 Revolution of the Carnations, which toppled 48 years of rightist dictatorship and restored democracy, Portugal counted 15 governments.


However, with the expected distribution of seats, the center-right PSD and the PP will not be able to bring down a Socialist government without turning to the communists for help, something that would be politically difficult.


"We are very close to an absolute majority. I don't see how they can join together to bring down the government," Guterres told a news conference on Sunday night. The Socialists, who have moved sharply towards the political center since the 1974 revolution, have promised "change without trauma".


The party is committed to free market economic policies and to continuing the privatizations begun by the PSD government of outgoing premier Anibal Cavaco Silva.


It has said that creating the conditions for Portugal to be amongst the European Union countries wedding their economies in monetary union will be its number one priority.


The party has also won popular support by promising education reforms, a tougher fight against drugs, better labor conditions and decentralization of government.


At the same time it offers a new style after the slightly authoritarian Cavaco Silva.