Portugal snap election likely after left wing rejects Socialist Party’s budget
Portuguese Communist Party leader Jeronimo de Sousa, right, and other Communist MPs attend a parliamentary session in Lisbon. The PCP and other left-wing parties rejected the 2022 budget proposal put forward by the Socialist Party government. De Sousa said it did not offer enough for the Portuguese working class. | Armando Franca / AP

Portugal is on course for a snap general election after its parliament rejected the proposed state budget for 2022 on Wednesday evening.

Prime Minister Antonio Costa was defeated by 117 votes to 108, with five abstentions, after left-wing parties, including the Portuguese Communist Party (PCP), refused to back the Socialist Party’s budget.

It is the first time since the restoration of democracy in 1974 that a budget proposal has been rejected in Portugal. Costa said he would not resign in the wake of the vote, but admitted that it was a “personal defeat.”

“I did all I could to make this budget work without adding anything to it that would be to the country’s detriment,” he said.

Fresh elections now seem inevitable, with Portugal’s conservative President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa saying on Monday that, should the budget fail to meet approval, he would have no other option but to dissolve parliament.

The budget will be key to reviving the country’s economy with billions in EU-allocated funds following the COVID-19 pandemic. Last year’s budget proposal was only narrowly passed after the Communist-Green coalition abstained from voting.

But the Communists said that the 2022 budget proposal did not contain enough for Portugal’s working class, with a lack of investment in jobs, housing, and public services.

The party’s suggestion of raising the monthly national minimum wage to €800 ($935) in 2022 and €850 ($993) in 2023 was ignored, leaving many thousands of workers facing poverty.

“There is no future for a country based on low wages,” PCP parliamentarian and party leader Jeronimo de Sousa said during the debate.

The party said it had no choice but to reject the budget proposal after its suggestions were rebuffed.

“We will continue on the right side of the fight, alongside the workers and the people, because it is with them and with the defense of their rights and interests our first and main commitment,” MP Joao Oliveira said.

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Morning Star
Morning Star

Morning Star is the socialist daily newspaper published in Great Britain. Morning Star es el diario socialista publicado en Gran Bretaña.