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Portugal’s Social Democrats win election

Associated Press / June 6, 2011

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LISBON— Portugal’s Social Democrats unseated the Socialist government in an emphatic election victory yesterday, giving the center-right party a strong mandate to enact a grinding austerity program amid a $114 billion bailout expected to pitch the country into deep recession.

Jose Socrates, the Socialist leader and the country’s prime minister for the past six years, conceded before all the results were in. “The Socialist Party lost these elections,’’ Socrates said in a speech, adding he would resign as party leader.

The Social Democratic Party elected 105 lawmakers in the 230-seat Parliament, compared with 73 for the second-place Socialists, according to final results. The Social Democrat share represented about 39 percent of the vote. The share for the center-left Socialists was 28 percent.

The Social Democrats had asked for an emphatic endorsement at the ballot box that would give them a strong mandate to enact unpopular fiscal measures and introduce longer-term economic reforms such as making it easier to hire and fire workers, a proposal parties on the left have balked at.

However, the result would leave the Social Democrats just shy of an absolute majority in the Parliament, where it will need approval for its policies.

Pedro Passos Coelho, the Social Democrat leader and probably the country’s next prime minister, may invite the smaller, conservative Popular Party, to form a coalition government and bolster his party’s parliamentary support. The Popular Party was projected to come third with 11 to 14 percent.

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