PM Modi Congratulates New Portuguese Counterpart

Portugal’s new centre-right minority government led by Montenegro came to power amid uncertainty around its long-term viability…reports Asian Lite News

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday extended his wishes to his newly elected Portuguese counterpart, Luis Montenegro, saying he was looking forward to working together to strengthen the bilateral ties between the two countries.

“Warm Congratulations to Mr. Luis Montenegro on being sworn in as the Prime Minister of the Portuguese Republic. Look forward to working together to further strengthen our long-standing bilateral ties,” PM Modi posted from his official X handle on Wednesday.

Portugal’s new centre-right minority government led by Montenegro came to power amid uncertainty around its long-term viability as it faces a highly fragmented parliament, Al Jazeera reported earlier.

The Democratic Alliance (AD) coalition won the March 10 election by a slim margin over the outgoing Socialist Party (PS).

Montenegro said on Tuesday the government was determined to meet its four-and-a-half-year mandate, promising to act with “humility, patriotic spirit and capacity for dialogue”, while demanding the same from the opposition.

“The [expected] investiture in parliament [next week] can only mean the opposition will respect the principle of letting us work and execute the government’s programme,” he said.

With just 80 seats in the 230-seat legislature, the AD will need the support of either the far-right Chega party, which quadrupled its parliamentary representation to 50 members of parliament, or the centre-left PS, which secured 78 seats, to pass legislation, Al Jazeera reported.

Chega, an anti-immigration party whose fast rise reflects a political tilt towards right-wing populism across Europe, has demanded a government role or a long-term agreement to support the AD, but Montenegro has repeatedly refused to negotiate.

Montenegro’s precarious position was exposed last week when Chega rejected his candidate for parliamentary speaker, who was ultimately elected with PS help. The PS warned, however, that such support was a one-off to unblock parliamentary activities.

Portugal, a country of 10.3 million people, is receiving more than 22 billion euros ($23.6bn) through 2026 from the EU to fuel growth and enable economic reforms.

The government has promised tax reductions for families and companies and higher pensions.

Al Jazeera reported that it has also promised to quickly address shortcomings in public healthcare, especially long waiting lists for treatment, and a housing crisis, as well as resolve simmering disputes with police and teachers over pay and work conditions.

The government can push some of its agenda through parliament with opposition support but the key piece of legislation–and its first big test–will be the 2025 budget.

Failure to approve a budget has in the past habitually resulted in early elections in Portugal, and it is likely that the AD will be forced to negotiate the spending plan, and possibly other measures, with the PS.

“The PS … must be clear about its attitude: be a democratic opposition or a blockade,” Montenegro said. (ANI)

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