Voting Begins in Portugal Elections

Posted June 5th, 2011 at 4:15 am (UTC-5)
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Voting began in Portugal Sunday in an election that will choose a new government to implement the country's $110 billion bailout programs.

Latest opinion polls indicate that the opposition center-right Social Democrats have 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 are taking place following the resignation of Prime Minister Jose Socrates in March after parliament rejected his economic austerity measures.

Portugal later asked the European Union and International Monetary Fund for a $110 billion bailout. EU finance ministers approved the measure on May 16.

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

In advance of the financial assistance, Portugal has raised taxes and imposed the deepest spending cuts in three decades.

In addition, the government has suspended its funding of a new airport and a high-speed rail link in the capital of Lisbon.