Portugal: Brewing Political Storm Could Bring Snap Election

LISBON, Portugal (AP) — A political storm is brewing in Portugal, where the minority Socialist government is finding it hard to win support for its state budget from other left-of-center parties.

The Portuguese Communist Party announced Monday it won’t vote in favor of the government’s spending plan.

The Left Bloc, another party which historically has sided with the Socialists, traded barbs with the government during recent days of tense negotiations, making the chances of the 2022 budget receiving parliamentary approval appear slim. A vote is scheduled for Wednesday.

The center-left Socialist party holds 108 seats in Portugal's 230-seat parliament. It has in the past relied on the support of its allies on the left or their abstention in votes.

Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, who has no governing powers but oversees the smooth running of the country, has warned that if parliament does not approve the budget he will call a snap election.

Prime Minister António Costa is a canny political operator whose negotiating skills have kept his two minority governments in power since 2015. A deal with the Left Bloc and other, smaller parties may still be within Costa’s grasp.

With the main opposition party, the center-right Social Democratic Party, busy with a leadership challenge, Costa could yet turn the situation to his advantage.