Portugal's 17-day-old non--party government fell on Thursday night (14 September) when Parliament rejected its programme by an absolute majority.
Portugal's 17-day-old non--party government fell on Thursday night (14 September) when Parliament rejected its programme by an absolute majority. The cabinet, headed by Prime Minister Alfredo Nobre da Costa, was defeated on a Socialist motion, but they will stay in office in a caretaker role until President Antonio Ramalho Eanes, can find their successor.
It was clear that the end was near when the Socialists, Communists and Centre Democrats combined to thwart the Prime Minister's efforts to form a new government.
The left wing alliance was reaffirming its support for the Socialist leader, Mario Soares who was dismissed in July. Mr Soares, in a speech which virtually sealed the fate of Mr Nobre da Costa's cabinet insisted his dismissal had been unconstitutional. He called for a combined vote which would demonstrate how the left dominated parliament. The Socialists under Dr Soares had headed both of Portugal's democratically elected governments after the 1974 coup which overthrew fifty years of right-wing dictatorship.
Mr Nobre da Costa acknowledged that he had failed to find a compromise and told the deputies that it was the Assembly's right to reject him if it wished. He added he was concerned that Portugal was still unable to find a stable government.
When the vote came, the government was defeated by 141 votes to 71, with 40 abstentions. The result was bitter for Mr Nobre da Costa. Most of his votes came from the Social Democrats. they supported him only as a "lesser evil" pending early elections.