Portugal awaits new government after hung polls

Lisbon: Portugal’s new centre-right Prime Minister Luis Montenegro will unveil his cabinet later Thursday after his coalition barely managed to emerge top in a badly fractured parliament.

The 51-year-old lawyer was last week asked to form a government after the March 10 polls which resulted in a hung parliament.

He will late Thursday send his list of ministers to President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa.

Democratic Alliance, a coalition anchored by Montenegro’s centre-right Social Democrat Party (PSD) that includes two smaller conservative parties, received 28.8 percent of the vote and won 80 seats in the 230-seat parliament.

The Socialist Party of outgoing premier Antonio Costa won 28 percent of the ballot and 78 seats.

Montenegro’s minority government should assume power next Tuesday, bringing an end to eight years of Socialist rule.

Local media reports say Nuno Melo, the president of CDS-PP, one of the small parties in Montenegro’s coalition, will be defence minister.

There is speculation that Ana Paula Martins, a former head of a Lisbon university hospital, could be named health minister.

Other parties in the coalition, such as Iniciativa Liberal which has eight seats, are not expected to be represented in the cabinet.

The far-right party Chega (“Enough” in Portuguese) soared to 50 deputies from 12 in the previous assembly, but Montenegro has refused to pass any accords with the far right.

The badly fragmented parliament was unable to elect a speaker for days.

Finally, the PSD and the Socialists agreed to share the role, with the PSD’s Jose Pedro Aguiar-Branco holding the position until September 2026 before passing it to a Socialist.

The new government faces calmer seas on the financial and economic front, inheriting a budget surplus of 1.2 percent of gross domestic product, only the second such annual surplus since Portugal returned to democracy after a 1974 coup.

Outgoing prime minister Costa met with his successor Wednesday, saying he was leaving office with a “sense of duty accomplished” despite having wished he had progressed further on some issues such as health.

“The new government will certainly have plenty of problems to resolve,” Costa said.