The leaders of Portugal's three main political parties met the Portuguese President, Antonio Ramalho Eanes, on Thursday (8 December) after Prime Minister Dr.
SCU: Outgoing Prime Minister Mario Soares talking to press in presidential palace after seeing President Antonio Ramalho Eanes. (THREE SHOTS)
SCU: Acting party President of Social Democrats Antonio Sousa Franco talking to newsmen. (THREE SHOTS)
SV: CDS Centre Democrats party President Dr. Feritas do Amaral talking to newsmen. (THREE SHOTS)
SV: Communist party sec-gen Alvaro Cunhal talking to newsmen. (TWO SHOTS)
Although a successor to Dr. Soares was not immediately named, the man tipped as most likely to succeed him was Soares himself. Most political observers and many voters believe he and his Socialists, (the largest party to emerge from last year's general elections), still hold the key to Portugal's democratic future.
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Background: The leaders of Portugal's three main political parties met the Portuguese President, Antonio Ramalho Eanes, on Thursday (8 December) after Prime Minister Dr. Mario Soares had handed in his resignation. Dr. Soares resigned when he was defeated in a parliamentary motion of confidence. But the talks produced no immediate outcome and his successor has yet to be named.
SYNOPSIS: The first to leave the presidential palace was Dr. Soares himself. He told newsmen he had handed in his formal resignation and agreed to carry on until a new government was formed. He also said he would not consider an invitation to return as premier until he could count on parliamentary support for his programme of austerity to deal with Portugal's economic problems.
Then came the acting leader of the Social Democrats, Professor Antonio Sousa Franco, whose centre-right party is second largest in the Portuguese assembly after Dr. Soares's Socialists. He said that speculation that he would be asked to try to form a new government was premature. Asked about a possible invitation to Dr. Soares to form another government, he said his party would have to think about it.
Dr. Freitas do Amaral, leader of the conservative Centre Democrats, who also non-committal. He said the issue of an invitation to Dr. Soares would have to be studied. But, if there was no agreement on a platform to solve Portugal's economic crisis, the answer would be in new elections, which are no scheduled until 1980.
Sentiments on early elections were shared by the Portuguese Communist party leader, Senator Alvaro Cunhal, when he left the President. He told newsmen the fall of the Soares regime confirmed the urgent need for a new government and a new policy. Dr. Soares, however, had said earlier that the time spent preparing and holding elections might be fatal to Portugal's economic recovery.