With only a few days left before the April 25 general election, the Socialist Party seemed certain of victory though not of an overall majority in the Portuguese Parliament.
LISBON: APRIL 19:
GV INTERIOR Socialist rally and cake to celebrate party's 10th anniversary PAN TO crowds singing (2 shots)
SV Socialist leader Mario Soares speaking (PORTUGUESE SOT) (2 shots)
GV PAN Crowd waving red flags
SETUBAL, SOUTH OF LISBON: APRIL 20:
SV ZOOM IN SCU Musicians playing at Communist rally
GV PAN Crowd chanting "APU" (Alliance Povo Unido)
SV Communist leader Alvaro Cunhal steps onto rostrum and waves to crowd (2 shots)
SV Alvaro Cunhal speaking (PORTUGUESE SOT), crowd listens and waves banners (2 shots)
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Background: With only a few days left before the April 25 general election, the Socialist Party seemed certain of victory though not of an overall majority in the Portuguese Parliament. Three years of right-wing rule ended in February when a coalition of three parties, led by the Social Democrats (PSD), collapsed after months of internal feuding. This left the country in the throes of a severe economic crisis, with a 13-billion dollar foreign debt and a 22 per cent inflation rate. At a rally in Lisbon on April 19, the Socialist Party celebrated its tenth anniversary, and packed crowds cheered as party leader Mario Soares said a Socialist victory at the polls would be the victory of all those Portuguese who believed in national solidarity in the face of crisis. If an overall majority eluded the Socialists, Mr Soares has declared that they would be willing to form a post-election coalition with the Social Democrats.
This statement brought a bitter attack on April 20 from the secretary-general of the Communist Party, Mr Alvaro Cunhal. Speaking a rally of the United People's Alliance (APU), in which the Communist Party is the major partner, Mr Cunhal said the only stable alliance which would bring peace to Portugal and reconcile the working class to the government would be one which included his party. This was the first time the Communists had demanded inclusion in a left-wing government, and the thousands of activists present at the rally in Setubal, in Lisbon's industrial belt, applauded wildly. However, relations between the Socialist Party and the pro-Moscow Communists have been marred by years of bitter enmity and, because of this the Socialists, if elected, would almost certainly govern alone or with the PSD.