Portugal's president wants government pledges on euro, NATO

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

LISBON, Portugal (AP) — Portugal's president wants something from the Socialist Party before he lets it take power with the support of the Communist Party and radical Left Bloc: a formal commitment to eurozone financial rules and NATO defense agreements.

The three parties forged an anti-austerity alliance almost two weeks ago to force the resignation of the center-right government. They want to run the country under a Socialist government.

President Anibal Cavaco Silva has hesitated to allow that because the Communist Party and Left Bloc have in the past called for Portugal to quit NATO and the 19-country bloc sharing the euro currency.

Cavaco Silva on Monday asked Socialist leader Antonio Costa to provide assurances that under his leadership Portugal would abide by its international commitments, according to a statement from the president's office.

Cavaco Silva also demanded "formal clarification" about other aspects, including whether the Communist Party and Left Bloc have undertaken to approve a Socialist government's annual state budget, which sets out the debt-heavy country's spending plans, the statement said.

The outgoing government, which won an Oct. 4 general election but was unseated after just 11 days, had introduced spending cuts and economic reforms demanded by creditors following Portugal's 78 billion-euro ($83 billion) bailout in 2011.

The head of state also has doubts about the "stability and durability" of a government supported by the three parties, the statement said — a reference to past hostility between them.

The president could reject Costa's bid to become prime minister and install a caretaker government until a new election can be held.