Opposition Unseats Socialists in Portugal

Posted June 5th, 2011 at 7:50 pm (UTC-5)
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Portugal's opposition has unseated the ruling Socialists in the troubled country's parliamentary election.

With all votes counted except those cast by Portuguese living overseas, official results give the conservative Social Democrats 105 seats and the Socialists 73 seats.

Outgoing Prime Minister Jose Socrates conceded defeat earlier Sunday after television exit polls gave the Social Democrats an insurmountable lead. He says he will also step down as Socialist Party leader.

Social Democratic leader Pedro Passos Coelho will likely become the new prime minister and form a coalition government with the conservative Popular Party.

Mr. Socrates triggered Sunday's early election after announcing his resignation in March, when parliament rejected his economic reform plans and more spending cuts.

The country was then forced to turn to the European Union and International Monetary Fund for a $110 billion bailout — a move Mr. Socrates was trying to avoid.

Portugal is burdened with a huge debt, a shrinking economy, and massive unemployment.

It is the third troubled EU economy, after Greece and Ireland, to need a bailout in the past year.