The minority Socialist government of Portugal may collapse if austerity measures are defeated in a vote later on Wednesday, as is currently expected.
The loss of support from opposition Social Democrats, who had previously supported the measures, may have doomed the government just before the beginning of a European summit meeting set to begin on Thursday. The government had hoped to have support in place for the plan prior to the start of the European Union (EU) meeting, which will discuss, among other things, a strengthened rescue fund.
Reuters reported that Jose Socrates, Portugal’s prime minister, has said he will resign if the vote goes against the measures, which cut state spending and pensions; all the opposition parties have proposed resolutions against them. Francisco Assis, parliament’s Socialist bench leader, was quoted in the report saying after a late-night meeting of his party, "If all these positions that now seem irreversible are confirmed, then yes, [the government will step down]."
Assis added, "The prime minister does not want to resign, but he cannot govern against his convictions." He placed blame on the Social Democrats, who are ahead in opinion polls and who are committed to reducing the budget deficit. The Socialists have 97 seats out of 230 parliamentary positions, and need at least 116 to pass the austerity plan. However, with all the opposition parties opposed, they cannot rely on any additional votes to push it through.