21:29 GMT +312 November 2019
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    Portuguese to Vote in First Parliamentary Elections After Exiting Bailout

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    Portuguese citizens will go to the polls on Sunday to elect a new government after surviving years of deeply unpopular austerity reforms imposed under incumbent Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) — In 2011, Portugal was rescued by the so-called troika of international creditors, including the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the European Union and the European Central Bank (ECB), with a 78-billion-euro ($87 billion) bailout.

    Following three years of austerity measures, such as tax hikes and budget cuts, the country managed to recover its economy and exit the bailout program in May 2014. The government budget deficit was reduced from 11.2 percent in 2010 to 4.5 percent in 2014 and the unemployment rate has continuously fallen since the first quarter of 2014.

    The voting will start at 09:00 a.m. (08:00 GMT) and will last until 07:00 p.m. (18:00 GMT).

    If re-elected, Coelho would be the first European leader to be supported by the public after carrying out the bailout.

    Main Rivals

    The front running rivals are the right-wing Social Democratic Party (PSD), headed by Coelho, and the left-wing Socialist Party (PS), led by Antonio Costa. The parties have polled neck to neck, and a majority win cannot currently be predicted.

    During the last 2011 parliamentary elections, the PSD won a majority, but still had to form a coalition with the People's Party (CDS-PP), as PSD did not have enough votes to create a majority government. The coalition government was headed by Coelho. The PS, headed by Jose Socrates, received 74 seats in the parliament, although the party ruled the country from 2005 to 2011.


    According to opinion polls, the coalition led by Coelho has the backing of about 38 percent of voters, compared to 32 percent for the opposition Socialist Party, which indicates that the coalition could win between 99 and 114 seats in the 230-member parliament, just short of the 116 needed for an absolute majority. PS is likely to take between 78 and 95 seats.

    A Eurosondagem Institute poll gives the government coalition 102-108 seats, and the PS 89-95 seats.

    At the same time, experts suggest that up to 15 percent remain undecided, making a forecast very difficult.

    International Monetary Fund, parliamentary elections, European Central Bank, Portugal
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