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article imagePortugal Prime Minister resigns following austerity vote failure

By Andrew Moran     Mar 24, 2011 in Politics
Lisbon - Portugal Prime Minister Jose Socrates stepped down Wednesday after Parliament voted down his government's austerity measures. The Socialist leader said the country was the real loser in the recent decision making.
In a televised speech Wednesday, Portuguese Socialist Prime Minister Jose Socrates announced his resignation amid Parliament’s decision to reject his austerity budget, which was put forth in order to put less strain on the nation’s financial crisis, according to BBC News.
The Prime Minister submitted his resignation to President Anibal Cavaco Silva. It is unclear as to who will replace Socrates. CNN reports that Portugal may not hold swift elections, but they may appoint a replacement without an election.
Prior to the vote, Socrates had threatened to step down if his proposals were rejected, notes Deutsche Welle News.
All five Opposition parties collaborated to vote down the budget because they feel it would continue to hurt the country’s poor. The latest budget plan, includes budget cuts, freezes on pensions and tax increases.
Previous budgets went as far as increasing Portugal’s value added tax (VAT) to 23 percent, cut state workers’ salaries by five percent and other similar measures.
“Today, every opposition party rejected the measures proposed by the government to prevent that Portugal resort to external aid,” said Socrates in his speech, reports Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty. “The obstruction from the opposition today was taken to intolerable levels. It wasn't just about obstructing the government; it was about obstructing the country. The opposition removed from the government the conditions to govern.”
Opposition members claim that the Prime Minister’s plans have already hurt low-income residents and have increased poverty. Member of Parliament who voted against the proposal, Miguel Macedo, said Portugal needs change.
The Prime Minister’s resignation comes as Eurozone leaders gathered for a two-day summit to finalize the Eurozone debt crisis plan. Sky News reports that Bond markets reacted and increased the interest rate on Portugal’s 10-year bonds to 7.71 percent, which could force Portugal to accept an 80 billion euro ($113.6 billion) bailout package.
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