Opposition Unseats Socialists in Portugal

Posted June 5th, 2011 at 5:20 pm (UTC-5)
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Portugal's opposition has unseated the ruling Socialists in the troubled country's parliamentary election.

Outgoing Prime Minister Jose Socrates conceded defeat late Sunday after several 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.

Voters went to the polls in an early election triggered by Mr. Socrates' resignation as prime minister in March. He announced he was stepping down after the parliament rejected his economic reform plans, which included 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 avoiding.

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.