Portuguese prime minister steps down

15:22, March 24, 2011      

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File photo taken on Nov. 20, 2010 shows Portuguese Prime Minister Jose Socrates during the NATO Summit in Lisbon. Portuguese Prime Minister Jose Socrates announced on March 23, 2011 that he is stepping down from his post and that the country will have new parliamentary elections. The decision was made after the parliament rejected the fourth Stability and Growth Pact measures. (Xinhua/Wu Wei)

Portuguese Prime Minister Jose Socrates announced Wednesday that he is stepping down from his post and that the country will have new parliamentary elections. The decision was made after the parliament rejected the fourth Stability and Growth Pact measures.

Conceived to reduce the public spending by 0.8 percent of the GDP, the new pact includes unpopular measures like the reduction of the benefits for retired people, cutting 175 million euros on the central government transferences to municipalities and the reduction of subsidies on prescription drugs. The measures, previously negotiated with the European Commission and the European Central Bank, have the goal of reducing the public deficit from 4.6 percent this year to 3 percent in 2012.

All the opposition parties -- left and right wing -- united to defeat the measures. Only the Socialist Party voted to maintain the Stability and Growth Pact.

The election date will be decided by the president. The Portuguese law establishes that the voting should take place in at least 55 days, and the new government will be inaugurated in around three months.

Source: Xinhua

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