Ailing Economy Looms Over Portuguese Elections

Posted June 5th, 2011 at 3:00 pm (UTC-5)
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Voters in Portugal Sunday chose a new government to implement the country's $110 billion bailout programs.

Late in the voting day, turnout was reported at 42 percent, slightly less than in the last set of elections in 2009.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, a former prime minister of Portugal, said the election is the most important one in decades because of the country's shaky economic situation.

Portugal has become the third troubled EU economy after Greece and Ireland to need a bailout.

The latest opinion polls indicated that the opposition center-right Social Democrats had the backing of about 36 percent of voters, while the ruling center-left Socialist Party would collect about 31 percent of the vote.

If the survey numbers are correct, the Social Democrats will oust the Socialists, but will fall short of an absolute majority in the 230-seat parliament.

The elections were held following the resignation of Prime Minister Jose Socrates in March after parliament rejected his economic austerity measures.