Portuguese President Antonio Ramalho Eanes defended his non-party Government on Wednesday (25 April), and told the country's political parties he would only call early general elections as last resort.
Portuguese President Antonio Ramalho Eanes defended his non-party Government on Wednesday (25 April), and told the country's political parties he would only call early general elections as last resort. President Eanes was addressing Parliament on the fifth anniversary of the coup which swept away almost half a century of right-wing dictatorship.
SYNOPSIS: Some political parties have been urging President Eanes to call early elections because of a political impasse in which no one party commands a majority in the Parliament of two hundred and sixty-three members. Portugal is also in the grip of a grim economic situation. Elections are due next years, but the President says he won't give in to requests to hold them earlier unless he is sure it would be in the national interest. In the meantime, he has appealed to the parties to settle their differences.
President Eanes said the formation of a non-party democratic government able to deal with Portugal's main worries would give the parties time for mediation and negotiation, and a chance to sort out their problems. He said that if elections were held right now, he did not think any party would get a majority, so nothing would be gained. And deputies cheered when he added that he did not sech personal power, and would not accept any system which subordinated democratic pluralism and the role of political parties. Some rightist parties have been urging the President to support a "presidentialist" party at the expense of existing political groupings. Earlier in the day, the soldier-President had urged the armed forces to continue to support the five-year-old democracy in Portugal.