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11 December 2004


Show me one honest politician and I'll show you a saint.

Santana Lopes Quits

Portugal PM submits resignation
By Ian Simpson

LISBON (Reuters) - Portugal's prime minister says he and his cabinet have submitted their resignations, a move that came a day after a snap election was called.Centre-right Prime Minister Pedro Santana Lopes said he would head a caretaker administration until a new government was named following February 20 election. "Before this address I informed the president of my and the government's decision, taken in the cabinet meeting just held," Santana Lopes said in a televised address on Saturday. The announcement came after a cabinet meeting at Santana Lopes's official residence. He said he would meet Sampaio on Monday to formalise the resignations.

Santana Lopes's Social Democrats and the rightist Popular Party, the junior partner in the coalition government, are well behind the opposition Socialists in opinion polls. The constitution calls for a prime minister who resigns to remain in office until the president names a new one and he or she takes over. Guilherme da Fonseca, a former Constitutional Court judge, said caretaker status would hamper Santana Lopes's powers. "A caretaker government is a government that is limited, in accordance with the constitution, to practices strictly necessary for the oversight of public business," he told private TSF radio. Sampaio dissolved parliament on Friday and scheduled an election, saying instability in Santana Lopes's government threatened to damage Portugal and its institutions.

Santana Lopes's brief tenure was marked by a minister's resignation, slumping polls, a negative outlook from the Standard & Poor's credit rating agency, and charges of government interference with the media. Santana Lopes, then Lisbon mayor and number two in the Social Democrats, took over as prime minister when Jose Manuel Barroso left Portuguese politics in July to head the European Commission. The Socialists, under telegenic new leader Jose Socrates, are considered to have a good chance of taking power in the February election, which will usher in Portugal's fourth government since late 2001. Polls had been scheduled for 2006.


Portugal to return to the ballots

Portugal faces general election

Portuguese President Jorge Sampaio has called an early general election on 20 February, just four months after the centre-right government took office. Mr Sampaio said that dissolving parliament was the only way to solve a crisis of credibility and instability. Prime Minister Pedro Santana Lopes took office when Jose Manuel Barroso become president of the European Commission. Their Social Democratic Party is currently trailing in the opinion polls behind the opposition Socialists. "This government's negative succession of incidents and declarations, contradictions and discoordinations in whole led me to dissolve the parliament as the only solution for a grave crisis of credibility and instability," Mr Sampaio said in a televised address.

The announcement came 11 days after Mr Sampaio had said he intended to dissolve parliament and call an early vote. The brief tenure of Conservative Prime Minister Santa Lopes has been marked by the bitter resignation of a minister, slumping polls and allegations of government interference with the media. The Socialists, under the new leader Jose Socrates, are believed to have a good chance of winning the February election. The Social Democratic Party and Popular Party are to continue as a caretaker government until the election.


Now the Prime Minister has announced that the goverment is quitting, leaving the ball in the President's court. Portugal at the moment seems to be run by a group of petulant kids.

I would of though with the problems facing this country that the politicians would spend less time worrying about themselves and more time worrying about the country. I guess I was wrong...